- November 2, 2021
A 30-second gust of powerful wind and rain hit the middle of Longboat Key at 4:45 p.m. Thursday, March 31. The storm ripped off roofs and downed power lines in the Twin Shores and Gulfshore of Longboat Key mobile-home park communities.
Approximately 15 mobile homes, mostly in Twin Shores, were damaged. Three homes had roofs partially torn off. The Twin Shores’ covered parking area and office roofs blew off, with shredded pieces of metal flying onto and over several homes and creating roof damage.
At least two residents were forced to seek shelter elsewhere for the night from the Red Cross.
Mobile-home park residents were without power for more than 24 hours before power was restored.
Vickie VanMeier, president of Twin Shores, said the community of 107 homes has not been so badly damaged by a storm in the last seven years she has been a resident of the park. Gulfshore, which fared better, has 178 mobile homes.
“A 30-second gust of wind and rain was all it took,” VanMeier said. “The rain was so bad, I couldn’t see my patio table from my window.”
VanMeier said she and the residents were thankful for the prompt response of the Longboat Key Fire Rescue and Police Departments, as well as Sarasota County emergency services.
Joan Fulchino, a nine-year resident of Twin Shores, considers herself lucky. While Fulchino was in Bradenton having dinner with her son, a piece of the Twin Shores’ covered parking roof blew onto her home and ripped off portions of her roof.
“My neighbors called me to tell me what happened,” said Fulchino, who got permission from Sarasota County building inspectors to sleep in her home after it was determined no portion of the roof was leaking.
Twin Shores resident Frank Magdic said he and other residents saw the rain and wind coming down sideways.
“But it just seemed like any other bad storm coming in off the Gulf,” Magdic said.
Lorraine Shepard thought the same thing as she drove into Gulfshore at 4:50 p.m. Thursday.
“But by the time I got out of the car, the rain pelted me so bad, I was drenched,” Shepard said.
Mayor Jim Brown expressed concern for the residents of both mobile-home park communities Friday, but he said the storm should serve as a wake-up call to the residents of those two communities.
“Many of those mobile homes are old and not well built,” Brown said. “They are dangerous, and people can get hurt from pieces of metal flying around the Key like that.”
Brown said he hopes the residents will think more about redeveloping their properties instead of leaving the status-quo, grandfathered mobile homes as they are.
Thursday’s powerful gust was just a portion of a line of storms and tornadoes that made their way through Central and Southwest Florida Thursday.
Police Chief Al Hogle said he was relieved no one was injured as a result of the damage the parks received.
“We are really blessed no one got hurt,” Hogle said.
But the mobile-home parks weren’t the only area of town that received damage from the storm.
Brown spent Friday cutting a tree down that fell between his home and his neighbor’s house in Longboat Key Estates. And another home in Longboat Key Estates near the entrance had its flat, gravel roof torn off.
The Sea Horse Beach Resort Condo, 3453 Gulf of Mexico Drive, also suffered roof and flooding damage.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected]