Flooded-out Residents Get Airboat Rides to Inspect Homes

For 6 hours Saturday, volunteer airboaters provided rides to and from the Peace Creek RV & Mobile Home Park to the Park's residents that wanted to inspect their homes, retrieve what belongings they could carry and secure their property. It was the first time since September 25th that the Park's owner and manager had been able to access the property and assess the damage.

Lake Wales, FL (PRWEB) October 4, 2004 -- Residents of the Peace Creek RV & Mobile Home Park, near Lake Wales, Florida had not seen their homes for more than 7 days, since evacuating prior to the arrival of Hurricane Jeanne. Until today, they could only stand at the entrance of the Park off Hwy 27, look across a now one mile expanse of water that separated them from their homes and wonder what condition they were in or if they existed at all. The access road to the Park now lays under 4-8 feet of water and the new lake, created by Hurricane Jeanne, completely surrounds their homes. Not even the Park's owner or manager had been able to access the Park and assess the damage.

At 9:00 AM today volunteers from the Florida Airboat Association, organized by Robert Dummett of Lake Wales and safety committee chairman for the Association, arrived at the Park's entrance, unloaded their airboats and provided the residents with rides across the vegetation and debris filled water to the Park to inspect their homes.
For some the elderly residents and those who had moved to Florida from the North, it was the first time that they had ever ridden on an airboat and they found the rides a to be an exhilarating experience, helping them cope with the despair that they found within the Park.

For 6 hours Saturday, volunteer airboaters provided rides to and from the RV park to the Park's residents that wanted to inspect their homes, retrieve what belongings they could carry and secure their property.

It was the first time since September 25th that Peggy Mann, the Park's owner and Jean Prisling, manager had been able to access the property and assess the damage. Although most of the Park is located on high ground, it is now an island surrounded by floodwater. While some homes and RVs remained relatively unscathed, others had been completely demolished by the 80 to 100 mph winds of Hurricane Jeanne and others stood in three to 4 foot of water.

After traveling the one mile across the flooded pasture, by airboat, skimming over downed trees, fence lines, debris from the mobile home park, sometimes entire roofs and sides of travel trailers, the residents ranging in age from 30 to 84, took stock of what remained and gathered what personal belongs they could for the return trip to the staging area at the entrance off Hwy 27.

Livestock including goats, donkeys and over 1,800 pound bulls had taken refuge in the Park, as it was the only dry ground for over a mile in any direction. The first airboaters to arrive at the Park and the Park manager had to double as cowboys and herd four bulls out of the Park before the residents could get off the boats.

In addition to shuttling residents to and from the Park, the airboats were also used to transport feed to the island for the now stranded livestock.

Although the water is slowly receding, it is expected to be another week before the Park is accessible by car or truck. Dummett stated that the airboats will be available to residents during the upcoming week, who have not yet had the opportunity to inspect their homes or secure their property.

The Polk County Sheriff's Department provided security and kept curious onlookers at bay, while the Park's residents gathered and consoled one another. The Sheriff's Department will continue to secure area and prevent looting until the floodwaters recede and residents can one again return to their homes and the Park's management can regain control.

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Source :  http://www.prweb.com/releases/2004/10/prweb164245.htm