Past Challenges

2007 MAY - Over the years, we have reported on a number of hurricanes
and tornadoes that have raised havoc with our Florida members, most recently
hurricanes Charley, Francis, Ivan and Jean, which impacted broad areas of the
state in 2004. Hurricane Charley was especially brutal, coming ashore on the
Gulf Coast community of Punta Gorda in August ‘04, wiping out a thousand mobile
and manufactured homes.

Unlike The Villages, members had a terrible time with
insurance companies and getting qualified contractors to make repairs. Many
waited months, living in houses with blue FEMA tarpaulins covering their roofs.
Also, unlike The Villages which has underground wiring, without electricity to
run air conditioners or refrigerators, the Florida heat became unbearable for
some members, forcing them to find shelter elsewhere.

In February 1998, a tornado, even more severe than this
February’s, roared through parts of Central Florida killing 41 people.

Over half of those deaths occurred in the communities of
Winter Garden and Kissimmee in suburban Orlando. None of our members lost their

In Kissimmee, four of our members did lose their homes in
the subdivision of Lakeside Estates. “It was the most depressing sight I’ve
ever seen,” said Association member Alice Cooper, whose home in Lakeside
Estates was spared with minor damage.

Still, Florida is the fastest growing state in the nation.
Our membership in that state has nearly doubled over the last 15 years.

Perhaps our older members, children at that time, remember
the Hurricane of ’38 which killed 500 people in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
And all recall the numerous blizzards of the last 50 years, especially the
grand-daddy of them all – the Blizzard of ’78.

Our members don’t scare easily. While most say they still
miss Massachusetts, it takes more than hurricanes or tornadoes to drive them
out of the Sunshine State. We’ve yet to hear from any that are leaving.