CLEARWATER, Fla. — Dozens of families in Clearwater have been, or are being forced to leave their homes as the Southern Comfort Mobile Home Park just off US-19 North shuts down for good. Now, some of those families are suing the park claiming the water coming from their faucets made their children sick.
The residents have less than 3 weeks to find another place to live as the park officially closes October 31. Nearly a dozen families are still unsure where they will go as a potential lawsuit makes its way through court proceedings.
Leaders from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection say the mobile home park is being forced to close after a small, private sewage treatment plant on-site leaked bacteria and raw sewage on several occasions. State leaders tried to get the owner of the mobile home park to comply with changes for years, but without action a judge ordered the park to close.
Now, a few families are questioning if the contamination also spread to the well drinking water that comes out of their sinks and showers inside their mobile homes. Two families have hired an attorney and have filed a lawsuit claiming the water in the park gave their children rashes, peeling skin and made their hair fall out.
One mom, Kreshae Humphrey alleges her two older children have skin problems, but her youngest daughter does not because she has only bathed in bottled water — something she now does with all three girls. The family is struggling to find a new place to live.
In a Facebook message to reporter Sarah Hollenbeck, Humphrey writes, "My family and I are devastated. Our home is being ripped away from us and we have nowhere to go. It's truly a heartbreaking time in our life."
An attorney representing the mobile home park says the allegations are not true and, while they admit to problems with the sewage system, park leaders say the well water coming out of resident's taps is safe and they will prove it in court. The DEP also has no record of issues with the drinking water, although they have never tested the taps inside various mobile homes at the park.
Michael Bock says he's never had any skin issues but has noticed the water sometimes has a brown rusty hue and sewage smell.
“Have I seen it? Yeah. Do I drink it? No.”
Darla Fullmer has also noticed problems with the water coming from her tap.
“Doesn’t smell pleasant. I won’t drink it. I only drink bottled water,” she added.
Other neighbors say the water can sometimes have a strong chlorine smell that burns their nose as they shower.
The lawsuit filed in Pinellas County claims Southern Comfort Park Inc. exposed residents to “unsafe” and “unsanitary” water.
Attorneys representing the mobile home park are working to get the lawsuit dismissed.