Mobile home park in Volusia suffers extensive tornado damage

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VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - Residents of the Volusia County community recovering after a tornado met with local agencies Tuesday night to figure out what's next.

Dozens of homes were torn to pieces in a mobile home community in Edgewater after a tornado touched down Monday.

Among the damaged areas was the Terra Mar Village near Indian River Drive and Cedar Way.

Power was restored to 75 percent of the homes in the community Tuesday night.

"We're never going to be in a trailer again,” said resident Dustin Giamo.

He and his wife lost everything in the tornado. It ripped off doors and windows, tore away siding and sent a tree into their kitchen.

"It's a complete loss. They declared it condemned," Giamo said.

He and dozens of other residents packed into the clubhouse Tuesday night to get the latest news about relief and cleanup efforts and to find out what services are available to them.

The Red Cross, along with officials from the county and volunteers, were on hand to answer residents' questions, which ranged from how to sort the debris to who is allowed to enter the community.

"This afternoon the place was filthy with them scrappers and contractors, just out soliciting for business, and the scrappers, of course, were trying to grab the aluminum," said Greg Vernam of the Terra Mar Homeowners Association.

Deputies were on around-the-clock patrol Tuesday to protect residents and their belongings.

On Tuesday, WFTV learned the majority of the homes inside the village were built before the state strengthened building requirements for mobile homes.

"I never thought it would happen to me," said resident James Evensen. "I lost a house in New York to Sandy. My son lost his house, and now this."

Evensen's home was one of at least 30 that was damaged on Monday.

But officials told WFTV some of the damage might have been prevented with new building codes. After Hurricane Andrew and again in 1999, requirements for mobile homes were strengthened, calling for better tie-downs and walls that can withstand 110 mph winds.

However, homes built before that were not required to be updated.

Channel 9's Karla Ray learned only a few homes in the neighborhood were built after those codes were put in place.

In Florida, more than 600,000 mobile homes built before 1994 are still in use.

There is a program that will help pay for people to get their older mobile homes up to code. For more information, visit the Tallahassee Community College Mobile Home Tie-Down Program.

Residents said despite having lost nearly everything, they still plan to hold their annual holiday toy drive on Saturday.