Highlands County mobile home residents band together during power outages

Mobile homes residents struggling with no power
Posted at 6:48 PM, Sep 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-18 18:48:55-04

Concerns are growing for many Highlands County residents as they've gone more than a week without power.

Many are especially concerned for people who are elderly or have special needs. Many of them reside in mobile home communities across the county. Hurricane Irma badly damaged several homes.

Kim Johnson is one of several people in a mobile home park who are working to take care of her neighbors. She is helping collect food, water and ice to help keep them going through the power outage that's lasted more than a week.

She drove ABC Action News around the park, showing our crews several homes that were severely damaged. Johnson said many people are still living in them.

One of those residents is a 90-year-old man who has cancer and a catheter.

He has been baking in his mobile home for several days, Johnson said.

"We thought he was in a shelter," she said. "We didn't even know he was here."

He was inside his mobile home when the storm hit. 

"It sounded like a railroad crossing," he said.

Other residents are now living together inside their damaged mobile homes.

Pat Shaw invited her friend Kay to come and stay after Kay's carport and part of her roof got blown away.

"I don't want to be alone," Kay said.

Kay has fallen several times as well in the dark, and was covered in bruises and scrapes.

They both thought they were prepared for the hurricane but said they underestimated how much they would need. They said had it not been for Johnson and other caring neighbors, they would have been surviving purely on peanut butter and crackers. Now, they're just dealing with the constant heat.

"It's so hot," Shaw said. "You know it's just so hot."

These residents are grateful to those who are helping them deal with the problems of power outages.

"I'm glad to help," Johnson said. "You do what you can. There's a lot of older people here and they can't do for themselves."

"This is what it's all about," said Johnson's friend, who has been leading the effort.  "I can live without power. I can live without the necessities but I want to make sure my people are good."

But as the days tick on, with the air off and their homes damaged, some say they are starting to lose hope.