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Gasparilla Mobile Estates residents share stories, experience as storm rips through Charlotte County

Gasparilla Mobile Damage.jpg
Posted at 7:15 PM, Jan 16, 2022

CHARLOTTE CO., Fla. — A series of storms sweeping across Southwest Florida earlier this morning has left behind a path of destruction.

Charlotte County was one of those areas hardest hit with a number of mobile homes destroyed at the Gasparilla Mobile Estates. It's a familiar site for many residents of the Gasparilla Mobile Estates- debris strewn across front yards and some trailers even at a total loss.

We spoke to the owner of one particular trailer who says he was woken up when the storm came thru and dropped debris on his head.

“In the middle of drinking my coffee when it happened.”

For Daniel Robert Nolan, waking up this Sunday morning wasn’t so easy.

"We heard this loud noise and my girlfriend said, ‘Oh my God.’ The next thing the roof was coming in and the front of my house was blowing in on top of me and the roof was on top of Debbie," said Nolan.

Nolan and his girlfriend were able to get themselves out of that debris. Not long after, though, did they start hearing from neighbors.

"We heard a cry for help and it was one of our neighbors and I wasn’t quite dressed to go outside and rescue people and I still don’t have a sock on this shoe!” said Nolan.

That neighbor would be alright. In fact, many residents checked in with one another to make sure they were safe. Two houses down, Joania Chestnut was awaken to the storm another way.

"My bed started to shake like I was on a trampoline," said Joania Chestnut, lives in Gasparilla Mobile Estates. "I got up and came out to the living room and the noise that had been coming by me was horrendous and then I looked out and everything was just devastated. Devastated.”

Englewood Fire Department say about 47 homes were destroyed, some completely flattened. But no reported injuries.

"Ten feet from me, people don’t have trailers anymore," said Chestnut. "It’s a very, very upsetting sight. It’s something you see on the news and you say, ‘Oh that’s horrible.’ Now it’s happened to us.”

The site is certainly hard to take in. The sound of generators can be heard as the clean up process begins. Crews with Pike Electric have started their work in restoring power.

As for what both Nolan and Chestnut will do next…

“I am going to stay with a friend tonight or until there’s electric back on, power back on,” said Chestnut.

"We’ve got a friend that survived it down here on C-row and he invited us for coffee," says Nolan. "I’d like to finish my coffee that I never finished this morning (laughs).”

Meanwhile, a refuge center has been set up at the Anne and Chuck Dever Regional Park Recreation Center in Englewood.