Virginia Beach Couple Narrowly Escapes Final Blow from Hurricane Michael

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    Hurricane Michael Survivor David Stough
    David Stough collects whatever belongings he can after his home was destroyed by a tree blown over in the final push from Hurricane Michael.

    Couple’s 1973 Skyline Mobile Home Smashed by Tree – Friends, Relatives Launch Campaign to Assist

    *See Storm Roundup at Bottom of Blog Post

    In the early morning hours of Oct. 12, with the remnants of Hurricane Michael still pummeling southeast Virginia, David Stough walked into the kitchen of his manufactured home. As soon as he turned on the light, a tree crashed through the roof. The tree fell right in front of him, throwing him back into the living room and up against the television.

    “Three more steps and I would have been underneath the tree,” David said. “I would have died that night.”

    Miraculously, he was unhurt. But the home he shared with his wife Nightstar Stough is demolished.

    “My wife walked in and asked what happened. I said, ‘We just lost our kitchen’,” he told MHVillager in a phone interview. “I’ve never been through anything like this in my life. I’ve been in motorcycle accidents, but never something like this.”

    The Stoughs Put A Lot of Love Into Their Mobile Home

    David and Nightstar had lived in the mobile home, a 1973 Skyline, for 18 years. The two married in the backyard, located on a lot in Colony Mobile Home Park in Virginia Beach, Va.

    After the tree fell, David and Nightstar managed to extricate themselves and their two dogs from their wrecked home, with help from the local fire department. They spent the rest of the morning with David’s nephew.

    It wasn’t their first storm, or their first falling tree, David said, but their house had always emerged intact. Until Hurricane Michael.

    “The thing that sucks about it is my middle name is Michael,” David said with a chuckle. “But our angel Michael was there to pull me out. We’re both Christians. We go to church on Sunday.”

    David, who has a background in construction, had put a lot of work into the 1973 Skyline, including redoing all the plumbing. He was planning to further remodel it before the tree hit. Unfortunately, there was no insurance on the home.

    Hurricane Michael topples tree on Virginia Beach mobile home
    David Stough surveys the damage at his Virginia Beach home.

    Couple Displaced and Wanting to Go Home Again

    As of Oct. 17, the Stoughs were living in a hotel in Virginia Beach. With help from the Red Cross and David’s sister, Denise Weaver, they can afford to stay at the hotel through most of October. After that, they’ll need to move somewhere else.

    Their community, Colony Mobile Home Park, wants to keep them around. The Stoughs were planning to return to the park that day to look at another home.

    “Colony is trying to move us into another place,” David said. “They’ve been a blessing. I’ve lived in the park for 25 years, long enough to feel like family to them.”

    GoFundMe Pages Dedicated to Help The Stoughs

    If the park manages to find them an unoccupied home, it will probably need work. David can do all kinds of home repair, but what he and his wife really need right now is money.

    He said the best way to help is through a GoFundMe donation. The Stoughs currently have two GoFundMe pages, one set up by a local friend, Tonya Clark, the other by Weaver, who lives in Tennessee.

    It is not financial pressure alone that’s pushing David and Nightstar to find a permanent abode. After just a few days living in a hotel, David was ready to move on. He wants a permanent place to live, a feeling of stability — a new normal.

    “I just want to go home, man,” David said. “I just want to go home.”

    Hurricane Michael Relief Efforts
    Two members of a FEMA Urban Search and Rescue team walk through heavily damaged neighborhoods in Florida after Hurricane Michael. Photo courtesy of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

    Storm Roundup in the Aftermath of Hurricanes Michael and Florence

    “Hurricane Michael made landfall around 1:45 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, October 10, 2018 near Mexico Beach, Florida, as a strong Category 4 hurricane, with maximum sustained wind speeds of 155 mph and a minimum central pressure of 919 millibar. Based on these intensity measures, Michael is considered the fourth most-powerful hurricane to hit the United States, behind the Labor Day Hurricane (1935), Hurricane Camille (1969) and Hurricane Andrew (1992), and the most powerful storm to impact the Florida Panhandle in recorded history. Moreover, as the storm remained at Category 3 intensity as it crossed into Georgia and continued to deliver tropical force winds and significant rainfall as it moved into the Carolinas and up the Eastern seaboard, Michael caused wind damage, triggered flooding and resulted in deaths in a number of states, including those still recovering from Hurricane Florence.”

    — Structural Extreme Event Reconnaissance Network: Hurricane Michael Preliminary Virtual Assessment Team Report

    Florida

    The hurricane primarily was a Panhandle issue in Florida, and a lot of it was the Gulf Coast out to Panama City.

    Massive evacuations saved untold numbers of lives. In the 38-page report offered by the Structural Extreme Event Reconnaissance Network, a collaborative effort among 10 universities, there was one mention of mobile homes, regarding part of the evacuation criteria near the center of the storm. There were no mentions of manufactured housing, signaling the more recent structures with enhanced tie-down standards are dramatically improving health and safety for residents and homeowners.

    “We have many members from Panama City, both retailers and communities,” said Florida Manufactured Housing Association Executive Director Jim Ayotte. “There were retailers that had significant damage. A Clayton retailer had a few homes that were irreparable, and they demoed and removed those homes. Prestige Homes had one home blow over on its roof.”

    Homes on retail lots have blocks at the wheels to prevent rolling. However, retailers do not tie down homes.

    “And then there was a community that had damage to the office, but the homes all fared well,” Ayotte said.

    Ayotte said he is taking a team to the field the week of Oct. 22 to further investigate the effects of Hurricane Michael on manufactured housing.

    “What we know right now is that a lot of homes near the beach were were heavily damaged, along with much else near the beach, and they were older mobile homes,” Ayotte said.

    Twenty-two fatalities are on record in Florida as of late last week. Meanwhile, search and recover efforts remain underway.

    North Carolina

    Brad Lovin, executive director of the North Carolina Manufactured and Modular Homebuilders Association, said North Carolina was hit hard again, just a few weeks after about a million people were evacuated prior to massive flooding from Hurricane Florence.

    “We were still moving mud and getting people back in from the last storm,” Lovin said.

    Massive flooding remains a problem in North Carolina. Yet, 60 mph winds felled a tree on a car and killed the driver.

    The greatest amount of flooding occurred in the southern portion of the state, in the area of Whiteville and Lumberton where the Lumber River twice rose to historic levels in a month.

    The federal and state governments have approved more than $1 billion in storm recovery funding to more than 20 counties in North Carolina, where 600,000 were without electrical power and 500 residents remained in shelters.

    Virginia

    Randy Grumbine, executive director for the Virginia Manufactured and Modular Housing Association, said he was unaware of any specific storm events directly impacting manufactured homes in his state.

    “Unfortunately, five lives were lost in Virginia attributed to Michael. Three were swept away by swift water, one was a fireman killed on-scene responding to an accident caused by severe weather,” he said.

    The fifth fatality in Virginia remains under investigation.

    FEMA response teams are working to help feed and house all survivors of Hurricanes Florence and Michael.

    Editor’s Note: State officials from Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina are encouraged to provide updates for our continued coverage of storm and recovery details.