Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Weather

Out of the shelter, good news awaits in Clearwater

CLEARWATER — They left the shelter and pulled home to Clearwater Trailer City a little before 9 a.m. Monday expecting the worst.

But to their surprise, Claudia Smith and her partner, Gary Bishop, found their faded old single-wide pretty much how they left it before Hurricane Irma.

They both cracked open a Budweiser and fell into the couch. They had been sleeping in a cafeteria for two days, their cat, Whiskers, cooped up in the animal section.

"I will never go through the experience of going in a shelter ever again," Smith, 57, said. "It was like being in a mental institution. Sleeping on the floor, a bunch of people around you."

Nathaniel Oliver, 51, had evacuated with his girlfriend to a friend's house on higher land and returned to the trailer park early to survey the damage.

He said he came upon a few looters - three guys and a woman - picking up aluminum scraps and checking door knobs. He yelled at them to leave and reported them to the police who arrived for wellness checks that morning.

A large oak tree he expected to topple onto his trailer was still standing and spared his house. But a piece of a neighbor's aluminum roof fell on his car, swiping off the side mirror.

"Nothing fell on my trailer so I thank God," he said.

Contact Tracey McManus at [email protected] or (727) 445-4151. Follow @TroMcManus.

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