Hurricane Ian leaves behind financial nightmare for Sarasota County snowbird

Months have passed since Hurricane Ian hit the state of Florida, problems keep piling up for residents in severely impacted areas. Though local, state, and federal resources have been sent to help, the aftermath left a financial nightmare for many – including snowbirds. 

Janet Beardsley, 83, from Rochester, New York spends winters in Venice at a 55 and older mobile home park community called Venice Isle Estates. Her home was destroyed by the major hurricane. 

The storm left behind extensive ceiling and floor damage, a wasp infestation, and broken windows, she said.

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Beardsley said she was still up north when Hurricane Ian hit, then made the 26-hour drive down a few days after the storm passed. When she arrived at the mobile home park, she found what was left of her home. 

She said she is in a unique and fortunate situation, though. Beardsley bought the mobile home right next door and was renting it out to people.

After the storm, she spent $9,000 to replace the roof on it, then moved in, so Hurricane Ian didn’t displace her. 

Aside from the salvaged roof, her rental’s carport was blown away and the lanai was destroyed, but she said it was still livable. She has a home after the storm, but all of this has put her in a financial bind.

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"They come and give me an estimate for the shed, the carport, and the lanai, $38,490, that can be done at the end of February and then $5,000 to drag that one away," said Beardsley.

She said it will cost $5,000 to get her destroyed mobile home next door off the lot.

"I call the insurance company and I say, ‘my place is entirely gone, and the one I have insured next door has a lot of damage,’ and they say, ‘if you go to page 15 on your contract, the small print says, no insurance for hurricane water or wind.’"

She said it’s, because her two mobile homes are older than some of her neighbors’ homes, who were able to get insurance coverage.

Beardsley said she tried registering with FEMA but said the agency wouldn’t send her aid, because she’s not a permanent resident of Florida.

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"So, I have to suck up a quarter of a million dollars, and I get no rent for this place, now for this place, I had to get a new roof," Beardsley said.

Despite losing a home she loved and dealing with the financial trouble, she is staying positive.

"I mean, I have a wonderful life, my best friend from first grade lives in the park, my sister lives near, we play mahjong all the time," Beardsley said. "It’s just, I am going to have to leave my kids a heck of a debt."

She said in moments like these, it’s important to put things into perspective.

"It’s all just stuff," she said. "I lost a lot of stuff over there, but that’s alright."

Beardsley said she’ll be working diligently after the first of the year to see who will give her a loan, so she can afford all the expenses.