Newer Manufactured Homes Fared Well During Hurricane Ian – Older “Mobile Homes” Not So Much
Today’s modern manufactured homes are built to withstand 150 mph winds. Since the advent of post-Andrew wind standards, a manufactured home on the Florida coast has to have double wall studs, double roof trusses, thicker nails, and double tie-downs anchored in concrete.
Manufactured homes built after the 1994 HUD Code change are subject to the same site-built building codes and wind safety standards in accordance with the International Building Code (IBC). A University of Florida study found that “not one manufactured home built after 1994 was destroyed by four hurricanes that struck Florida in 2004.”
Older “mobile homes” are everywhere in Florida. Of 822,000 mobile and manufactured homes in the state, almost two-thirds of them are pre-1994 vintage, according to the Florida Manufactured Housing Association.
“Every time there’s a hurricane, we see a number of our older homes that suffer catastrophic failures,” says Jim Ayotte, CEO of the Florida Manufactured Housing Association. He says while mobile home parks have gone upscale, with swimming pools and landscaping, the industry continues to suffer from an age-old image problem in many Florida cities and towns.
“They would rather see a mobile home park gone,” Ayotte says. “They see it as a blight on the community. They don’t really look at that as an affordable housing source. They say let’s get rid of it.”
If you don’t believe him, believe Jimmy Buffett.
“Yeah, they’re ugly and square, they don’t belong here, they looked a lot better as beer cans,” croons the singer who fell in love with Key West.
Manufactured homes fared well vs. hurricane Ian. Just ask the residents of Parkhill Estates in Punta Gorda. It’s a 55+ community of 176 homes where folks like to play shuffleboard, poker, and bridge and cruise the curved streets in fleets of golf carts.
“Hi Denny, how are ya?” says Bob Murphy,82, to another T-shirted retiree in a baseball cap. Murphy is the genial president of the resident’s co-op that owns the park. He’s driving around catching up with his neighbors.
“You doin’ okay?” Murphy asks, “Your house fared very well, didn’t it?
“Yes, it did; I can’t complain, ” calls back Denny.
Eighteen years ago, Hurricane Charley decimated Parkhill Estates.
“It demolished all the older homes,” says Ernie Parent, a 74-year-old gas company retiree from Zanesville, Ohio, who had moved in only months before the storm hit. “We had over a hundred new homes brought in after Charley. Ian was bad, but the hundred new homes all stood up.”
The worst storm damage from Ian appears to be the slab-built clubhouse, not the manufactured homes.
“The structures themselves seem to be pretty durable with this hurricane,” says Murphy, who winters in Punta Gorda and spends summers in his home in Cincinnati. “Ninety-nine percent of the structures are still standing. There’s some siding off and some roof damage. The skirting came off a number of ’em. But for the most part they held up pretty well.”