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Sarasota homeowners are grateful for Hurricane Ian debris removal

A waiver from the Federal Emergency Management Agency was granted to the county to allow for the removal of hurricane debris from 13 out 33 mobile home parks.

NORTH PORT FL. — Some homeowners at Sarasota’s mobile home parks are able to breathe a sigh after receiving much-needed help clearing out hurricane-related household debris.

A waiver from the Federal Emergency Management Agency was granted to the county to allow them to move their debris from 13 mobile homes parks.

FEMA has provided assistance to the county in paying for nearly 9,500 cubic yard of debris removal at La Casa park. Nearly 28,000 cubic yard debris was removed from all parks. Although the homeowners thought that the clean-up would never take place unless they raised the funds through their homeowners’ associations, now they can concentrate on rebuilding and other aspects of recovery.

“We arrived here Oct. 30th, to 12 feet of debris. We need to thank Sarasota county and its workers for clearing it up. John Braine from Canada stated that it was approximately 15 feet high and right up to the fence when we arrived.

John and Kelly Braine said they are new to the snowbird lifestyle since they bought their home in North Port’s La Casa Mobile Home Park in 2020. They haven’t been able to visit the park since the pandemic, which has delayed their plans.

They claimed they had been renovating the house and planning to spend some time there this winter, but Hurricane Ian halted them.

The majority of the park’s property was destroyed by Hurricane Irma. It then ended up being piled up on a 40-acre parcel right next to the Braines new home.

Kelly stated, “We heard it would take years before it was over and it was devastating to our family because we tried to make plans to stay here.”

FEMA has designated certain properties and communities, such as mobile home parks, as commercial. They must pay for hurricane-related debris removal. FEMA was not happy with the extent of the debris and damage that was collected. Residents would have been required to pay thousands of dollars to clean up the mess.

Tim Davis, president and CEO of the La Casa Homeowners Association stated that waste management was not going be picking up the stuff they pay property taxes for. However, debris like this is too big for them.

FEMA was contacted by the county to request a special exception to allow them to remove debris from areas where there were no precedents. The request was followed by appeals from elected officials at the national, state, and local levels.

After reviewing the situation, the agency approved funding to remove debris from 13 of 33 mobile homes parks in the county that were immediately eligible for a waiver.

“We know that it’s frustrating for people and they would prefer things cleaned up and for medical reasons, we want that done as soon as possible,” Renee Bafalis spokeswoman for FEMA.

Ron Cutsinger, a member of the Sarasota County Commission board and vice chairman of that commission, represents District 5, which also includes North Port. He was the one who initiated the appeals process to obtain the waiver from FEMA. His efforts were supported and praised by Congressman Greg Steube (the U.S. House Representative for Florida’s 17th Congressional District).

“All the mobile home parks were so badly hit. Cutsinger stated that it was heart-wrenching to see the extent of damage done. Although the county still has a long way to go, it is a great start. It just feels like we are getting more done every day.

The county commissioner stated that they would continue the appeal process to have the remaining 20 parks and any other communities in serious need approved for debris removal.

The Brianes are thankful that they don’t have to see the huge pile of rubbish outside their house.

Kelly stated, “No words can describe how happy we feel that it is being done.”

“Thank you, U.S., Canada. And thank you for those who said yes that they would clean it up. John thanked John.

FEMA stated that it would continue to work closely with the state government and local governments to identify communities who require special accommodations for hurricane-related debris cleanup.