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Monday, October 3, 2011

Mobile Homes Hit Hard by Irene Floods

After paying rent for her entire adult life, buying a mobile home was a dream come true for Sandra Gaffney. But 11 months later, that dream was destroyed by floodwaters when the remnants of Hurricane Irene ripped through her mobile home park, flooding her trailer and about 70 others.

Gaffney, 64, had gotten out in time, fleeing to her sister’s home in neighboring Montpelier, unlike her neighbors at Weston’s Mobile Home Park, who had to be rescued by boats and high-water vehicles.

The retired paraeducator learned of the devastation when she saw a photo of her trailer on a local radio station’s Facebook page.

"I saw my trailer with water all the way up to the windows," she said. "And then I totally sobbed."

Thirteen mobile home parks in Vermont were flooded when the Aug. 28 storm hit, turning streams and rivers into raging waterways that carried away bridges and large segments of roads and damaged or destroyed 840 homes. That includes at least 141 mobile homes that were destroyed and 220 that were flooded, some so severely they may be declared total losses.

In Williamstown, Mass., near the Vermont state line, floodwaters entered more than 200 mobile homes in one mobile home park on the Hoosick River. Five weeks later, only 25 homes have been repaired and made habitable.expensive to come by," said Town Manager Peter Fohlin.

"More units are going to be very hard and very

Now those homeowners -- many of them with no flood insurance -- must pay to remove the destroyed trailers and some are waiting for Federal Emergency Management Agency help. Others have no long-term option for housing with winter just a few months away.

"My impression from talking to people is that a lot them still don’t know what they’re going to do," said Sarah Weintraub, an organizer with the Vermont Workers’ Center, a group that works for social and economic justice in Vermont.

"We are concerned that a lot of people are doubling up with neighbors, staying with family, some may even be staying in campers," said Jennifer Hollar, deputy commissioner of the Vermont Department of Economic, Housing and Community Development.

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