Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Carmel on the Case: Sold Out
These are difficult days for residents of mobile home parks. With rising property values, land is literally being sold out from under them. But now, in Coconut Creek, one woman says her city is making her feel like a second class citizen because of its hurricane policy. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On The Case.
WSVN -- When the weather gets ugly, mobile home parks are often the first to be hit with evacuation orders, and it's easy to see why.
They just don't hold up in hurricane force winds.
In Coconut Creek, the city encourages its mobile home residents to evacuate by shutting off their water.
John Kelly: "And we've got calls from people saying they weren't aware of it, and that's probably because they evacuated last time."
John Kelly is Coconut Creek's city manager.
Keep in mind this is a city that plays mood music on loudspeakers and plants butterfly gardens outside of City Hall.
So maybe it should be of no surprise that the city tries to protect mobile home residents by pushing them into evacuating.
John Kelly: "But, right now, it's for their best interest. Mobile home parks are extremely vulnerable, and, once the county says there's a mandatory evacuation, we let them know we're going to shut the water off as a way of encouraging them to go."
But this encouragement isn't always appreciated.
While nobody is forced to go, the city's policy has stirred up a storm of resentment for one single mom.
Robin McDaniel: I call that a strong-arm tactic. I really think that's not up to them to decide whether or not I'm going to leave my home.
Robin McDaniel and her 10-year-old son Justice live in one of the city's five mobile home parks.
They've been here since Justice was born.
But she thinks the city's policy is unfair to people who don't have a lot of money.
Robin McDaniel: "What concerns me most is that they're doing it only to people in mobile home parks. They're not doing it to people who live in condos on the beach when they're under a mandatory evacuation."
McDaniel says the policy makes her feel like a second class citizen.
Robin McDaniel: "Yes, I do. I feel like they're doing this to us because they can get away with it."
Carmel Cafiero: "When this lady tells me she feels like a second class citizen?"
John Kelly: "No, actually she's getting special treatment because we're trying to protect her."
Carmel Cafiero: "So, she shouldn't feel bad about this?"
John Kelly: "No, it's in her best interest."
And in the best interest of the city's water supply.
According to John Kelly, the policy is also in place to avoid contamination.
John Kelly: "The home is blown away, and the pipes are opened up and the water can infiltrate -- the rainwater, the dirt, the accumulation that's there can get into the system."
Meanwhile residents like McDaniel were forced to watch Tropical Storm Ernesto limp into South Florida, even though the city had already turned off the water.
So, you may be wondering about now -- do other cities or counties do this?
John Kelly couldn't name any, and after calls from Broward to Miami-Dade and multiple cities in between, we could not find any other with such a policy.
McDaniel is so mad, she'd like to take the city to court -- if she could afford it.
Robin McDaniel: "I don't think they should be able to force me out. I mean what's next -- the electricity?"
At least she got to speak her mind, because the city is firm in the belief it is doing what is best for everybody, rain or shine.
If you have a story for Carmel:
Call her in Miami-Dade at 305-627-CLUE
Or in Broward at 954-921-CLUE