CAPE CORAL, Fla. — Many throughout Southwest Florida are still recovering - and cleaning up - from recent tornadoes that ripped through mobile home parks.
But what about before the storm?
It’s the last thing on any homeowners mind- bracing for a tornado. For many in Southwest Florida, that’s exactly what they had to do in early January. While some were left still standing, others weren’t so lucky…
"Knowing that we have hurricanes, you should somewhat be prepared for a tornado," says Scott Ryan, Owner of SR Builders. “We learned that prevention is key. The houses that were not maintained, not taken care of, were the ones who took most of the damage.”
Scott Ryan and his wife are the owners of SR builders in Cape Coral. They say the best form of protection starts with your windows.
"The best way to protect your home is with an impact window," says Ryan. "It doesn’t matter if it’s a tornado or hurricane, you’re protected. If a tornado whips up instantly and you don’t have time to prepare for it, at least the envelope of your building is taken care of.”
The same applies to those living in a mobile home. But window pricing, he says, has been skyrocketing every quarter. The average price for a storm window can be anywhere between $800 and $1500… which tends to lead owners rethinking their options.
"In a mobile home, you can retro fit impact windows in the home but I mean, unfortunately, it’s metal and it’s a scary place to be. My advice to you is if you’re in a mobile home and a hurricane is coming is to find a safe place to go.”
"It’s been a mix of everything. The majority of what I’ve seen was car ports," said Brett Hoebpner, Supervisor and Operator for Dave’s Excavating.
Dave’s Excavating is a local group called in to help with the recent storm damage. Along with damaged carports and blown out windows, Hoebpner says he’s noticed some homes entirely flipped over. Thankfully, there is a solution.
"There’s a strapping that can go across the top down to anchor points all the way down to the ground to, probably, keep the roof from getting ripped off," said Hoebpner. "But- once again- we still don’t know the full intensity of a tornado or what it can do. That might have saved something.”
There are other, more wallet friendly solutions. Accordion storm shutters, plywood, even a few nuts and bolts can make a difference. All they require is the time and maintenance. But the time to prepare is now.
"Shutters are good- clear view shutters are even better," said Ryan. "You can get the roll down shutters, you can buy the aluminum shutters and you can get all of that stuff and- if you do it ahead of time- you know you’re safe. You’ve got your hurricane kit and you’re good to go.”