LARGO, Fla. - It's now been one year since a tornado ripped through a mobile home park in Largo on Christmas Eve, causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage. Residents were left cleaning up on Christmas day, but this year is bringing them a new sense of gratitude.
Residents of Ranchero Village mobile home park were left with twisted metal, broken glass, and destroyed roofs. Trina Hoaks' Florida room was destroyed.
"I spent the next couple of hours in the pouring rain trying to get everything on the carport, as much as we could," Hoaks recalled a year after the storm.
It wasn't the holiday with family she expected, but she made the best of it by putting the work on hold until the end of December 25, so she could enjoy what was left of Christmas Day.
"We're not going to think about it. We're not going to do anything. We're going to enjoy the holiday, we're going to enjoy each other's company, bask in being grateful for the fact that none of us got hurt and we're still all here together," Hoaks said.
After the storm, the neighborhood held a fundraiser for the victims to help offset repair costs. It helped Hoaks repair her roof but she says her Florida room may be too costly to re-do. Instead, she added in a succulent garden.
"I need something for peace, for serenity, to free my mind I guess," Hoaks said.
The elaborate designs and intricate details wrap around her home. It's an uncovered passion and talent she never realized she had.
"People have told me how good I am at it and how I'm an artist… but it's kind of spurred me on to feel like, well, I think I'm going to start a business doing this," Hoaks said.
An unlikely gift this Christmas that Hoaks never would have thought would come from such chaos.
"The bottom line is how you look at things. You can either choose to let them defeat you or find a way to keep your sanity. That's why I did this, to keep my sanity, but the other thing is to remain optimistic, I think. It's the only way you can get through the times like that and here we are a year later and much happier for sure."
Hoaks plans to officially launch her business in January, She says she already has a few potential customers lined up.