It's Hurricane Season!

NOVEMBER 2004
- Members Tell Their Stories Of Being Caught In The Eye Of Charley - Florida has ceased being Paradise for thousands of our members who
have chosen to live their retirement years in the warmth and
tranquility of the Sunshine State.

Four
hurricanes, beginning with Charley in August, followed by Frances, Ivan
and Jeanne in September, have left many of these members wondering if
they made the right choice in relocating to that state.

While
severe damage caused by the winds and rains was limited to a relatively
small percentage of these members, it was the evacuation of their homes
and days and weeks of living in searing heat without electricity or
water that was physically and emotionally draining to our members, as
well as millions of others in heavily populated Florida.

Our
Association policy has always been to reach out to members from a
catastrophe, regardless of its cause, in this case acts of nature.

Contacting
our Florida members has been difficult because of delayed mail service
in many areas and widespread disruption of phone service. Some members
have called us by cell phone, and while a fighting spirit seems to
prevail, it's been a sad time for others.

In this edition of the Voice,
we are focusing on Hurricane Charley. This was the first of the four
hurricanes and the one of which we have the most complete information
at this time.

On August 12, hundreds
of thousands of people in the greater St. Petersburg area evacuated to
safer ground after being told they were in Charley's path.

On
August 13, the whimsical hurricane suddenly veered inland 70 miles
south of St. Pete, making a direct hit with its 145 miles per hour
winds on the cities of Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte, home of several
hundred Association members.

The
following excerpts from phone conversations or letters received from
members can best describe the hardships and plight of some of Charley's
victims:

"During the
hurricane, we stayed at our daughter's home 10 miles away... It was
safer. But that night, Charlie (husband) went back and found that we
had lost everything. Our entire Port Charlotte Village (439
manufactured homes) was either leveled or destroyed. We've been staying
at the Days Inn in Sarasota." Louise Good, Port Charlotte, Middlesex County Hospital.

"I
lost my front porch and several of my large trees fell on homes
belonging to neighbors. It's very sad to see all of the homes that have
been completely destroyed. I'm probably going to relocate to Ft. Myers
where my wife (Mary) is in a nursing home." Don Mullen, Punta Gorda, Boston Fire Dept.

"When
Charley hit, the hurricane shutters were closed, so I couldn't see but
the noise was something I never heard before in my 74 years, and can't
describe. I lost my porch and the wall to my carport is filled with
holes like someone took a sledgehammer to it. After Charley left, I
couldn't believe my eyes. I saw a bear that escaped from the local zoo
and scavengers came in like locusts picking up aluminum pieces." Myrtle Bennett, Punta Gorda, Taunton State Hospital.

"Our
mobile home was one of 104 24-foot doublewide mobile homes in the Mary
Lou Mobile Park that were completely destroyed. Everything was leveled
and all the belongings in them are gone. It seems like my wife and I
have been all over the place, but we are extremely grateful to have had
places to stay, food to eat, and that we both came through it safe and
unhurt." Norman Vachon, Port Charlotte, Attleboro Assessor.

"We
stayed in the bathroom during the storm... could feel the whole house
shaking and thought the bathroom was the safest place. We lost most of
our roof and several windows were blown in and there was some water
damage. Dan, my neighbor, bought a generator which he shares with us.
It is strong enough to run some fans and the refrigerator. Our
electricity is still out... God Bless Dan." Maurice Desrochers, Port Charlotte, Methuen Water Dept.

"There's
a big tree laying on top of my home but the roof seems to be holding
up. Without electricity and no air conditioning the constant 90 degree
heat has been brutal. I've been able to buy ice for my cooler but have
no way to cook any food. However, compared to the destruction I've
seen, I feel very lucky." Bob Morgan, Punta Gorda, Burlington School Dept.

"We
were blessed that we had just left to drive our grandchildren back to
Billerica, as they come every year during their summer vacation to
visit with us. We do this every year and then return to Punta Gorda
after Labor Day. Two sons drove us back to Florida. It was a sad time.
Our home was completely destroyed. We never thought at this time in our
lives we would be homeless. Just trying to go one day at a time. Thanks
for thinking of us." Guy Magliozzi, Punta Gorda, State DPW.

"My
cinderblock home lost its roof and back wall. I bought a trailer for
$21,000 in which I live in my driveway. I do want to move back into my
house and sell the trailer, which I took out a loan to buy, but it's
going to be a long wait (repairs). The neighbors have been terrific...
food, anything I need." Ramona McMahon, Port Charlotte, husband Walter, deceased, Waltham Police Officer.

"Jean
(wife) and I went to visit a friend in Ft. Myers the day Charley hit.
We couldn't go home and stayed overnight. When we went home the next
morning, there was no home. It was a total loss. It was a double-sized
mobile home in Port Charlotte Village where we lived for 15 years. Our
neighborhood looked like Berlin at the end of World War II." Dick Anderson, Port Charlotte, Oxford Police Officer.

"I
was back in Boston for surgery when Hurricane Charley struck. Windmill
Village has 450 homes and all but four are uninhabitable. My home was
completely destroyed, and I know the insurance will only cover part of
the loss. Going back to Windmill Village was surreal. It was like a war
zone with no survivors... perhaps more like a ghost town with the only
noise being pieces of aluminum blowing in the wind. I'll be staying in
Massachusetts with my family for now, but I don't know about the
future." Miriam Miner, Punta Gorda, Wachusett Regional Dist. Teacher.

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