The storms, and tornado’s produced by it, that tore through Central Florida on February 2nd opened up a recurring problem in our state: Mobile homes that today wouldn’t even make it past inspection.
But that brings us to the victims who all died in ways people shouldn’t have to die in. A father and son left clutching each other in what was left of their bedroom closet, a 17 year old crushed to death by a large oak tree, elderly people flung from their home’s up to 300 feet and everyday parents and their children being crushed under the wreckage of what was once their home leaving their other children orphans.
But sadly though many of the 21 victims didn’t know each other, each one had one thing in common: They all lived in mobile homes built before 1984 and in a condition that the idea of a tornado destroying the house wasn’t a matter of maybe, it would happen given the Perfect Storm. February 2nd produced that Perfect Storm.
If you come to Florida, or anywhere in parts of this country really, you will find mobile homes and RV’s converted into mobile homes dotting the landscape all over the place. A good chunk of these mobile home though were built before building codes were made tougher as far as the building of mobile home’s go. This basically leaves the people living in homes manufactured before 1988 in a bad position.
I can also tell you fact I suspect most of the hardest hit were pre 1976 single wide trailers without grounding straps over the roof. I would also bet the homes crushed by trees were pre 1976 trailers built out of 2×2’s with 2×2 rafters or 1×2 bowed roof struts. As more information comes out about this and more stories are written about the storm’s a problem the state has over looked and swept under the rug for years is slowly coming to light in a profound way. They hoped something like an F5 tornado would never happen, well we never thought 4 hurricanes could hit us back to back either. Granted, the odds of being killed in a tornado while living in a mobile home are pretty low, in fact I’m sure your odds of really winning the lottery are about the same.
New mobile homes are supposedly built for 100 mph winds, which for most of the tornado’s and storm’s wouldn’t have mattered anyways, but we’re talking about light winds of 60 MPH leveling mobile homes. What’s even sadder is many people buy the homes in Florida with the promise an older modile can stand winds over 100 MPH, I know it really happens because when my husband and I wanted to go into a vacation home with some friends in South Florida this was a question we asked about several trailers that pre-dated 1984, we were guarenteed they would hold up on 100+ MPH winds. The thing is though they won’t. The spec sheet in 1976-1994 mobile homes say they are good for the same, which doesn’t say much for government required improvements. Almost all the maintained 1976-1994 mobile homes in my area went through 4 hurricanes just fine suffering only screen room and carport damage or tree damage. Not anything to the home itself.
After a tornado hits they become the butt of jokes, and a lot of people like to think only a certain brand of people live in trailers. Well they don’t, people who live in trailers come from all walks of life. They also died in homes as I said before wouldn’t pass inspection if they tried to sell them as is today. There are few homes built before 1984 that have the required ground straps.
It’s an unfortunate problem with the trailers that cost’s people their lives. You can comment if you want about them not having to live in trailers if they thought something like this was going to happen, but who really expects something like this to happen? Maybe in the wake of this the state will look into fixing older trailers the way they were going to after the tornado’s of 1998 that killed 42 people as it crossed the state in the same way the storm’s of February 2nd did.