Staying in an RV is a reality for many people in Southwest Florida after Hurricane Ian. A couple in the Century-21 Mobile Home Community in Iona is living outside their home after it was flooded during the storm.
They’ve seen extensive damage before. They were there when a tornado ripped through the community in January.
On January 16, June Tiemens was sitting outside her home when she saw a black swirling in the sky across the water.
Her husband Ken ran out to get her, and they hid in the shower, praying the tornado wouldn’t hit them. That day, their prayers worked.
On September 28, when Hurricane Ian hit, even among the damage done to their home, they say those prayers were still answered.
“This floor is the only one we’ve never replaced, and it is gone. It’s gone. It’s got a frog even,” said June.
Home looks a little different for June and Ken Tiemens. Ken had just installed new cabinets, shiny hardwood floors, fresh drywall, and much more to strengthen their manufactured home after the tornado passed by the area in January.
“We we’re kinda counting on we wouldn’t have to do this again, you know, remodel again,” said Ken.
Despite the damage, they think what is left standing is thanks to their renovations. “Well, I build it really strong,” Ken said.
Many of their neighbors didn’t have those reinforcements. Whatever the January 16 tornados ripped away weakened the homes in the Century-21 community, with Hurricane Ian’s deadly storm surge and wind striking the community even harder.
“The water just gushed up over. I think it was very, very forceful. Very forceful.”
The waterline still dots the doors and walls, leaving destruction beneath it.
The pictures are hard to lose, but June and Hen consider themselves lucky. They weren’t home during the storm. They were safe in their other home in Indiana.
When they checked on the damage a few days later, they found another piece of their heart shattered.
“Somebody broke in the door, they cracked it open, and then they found our safe and flung all stuff around. But it was all of the letters that he had written me from Vietnam,” said June.
June found most of the letters in water. Some dates are still easy to read, but if you ask Ken, it adds to the vintage feel. “Now you look at them, and they look like they’re from the Civil War.”
Water from the storm ran its course on the Tiemens’ home, and now they want to know when they can get running water in their house.
“We’re flushing our toilets with lake water,” said June. “That’s our utilities.”
A shock to the power system would help them out, too, because now they call the home in front of their house ‘home on wheels.’
“We sleep in the motorhome. But we eat in our lanai on that side,” said June.
They lost both of their cars, most of their clothing, and nearly all of their furniture, but nothing could break their spirit.
They say hearing from the Century-21 community’s management would help, though.
“We’ve been married 52 years. And we haven’t had an argument yet since we got here. Nobody would hear us anyway. But I’d like to, if I do argument, I like to argue with the owners that are here,” said Ken.
They say they haven’t heard a peep from the community or if they’ll still be able to call this lot home. It’s been in June’s family since 1975, and they are hoping they can rebuild it to last until 2075.
“The Lord is great, honey. And you have to have a backbone, and you got to have that anchor. See what our thing says; where is your anchor? It’s in The Lord and only in The Lord. So that’s where our anchor is,” said June.
WINK News reached out to the neighborhood HOA to see if they had information that could help the Tiemens or people like them, but no one answered the phone, and the voicemail box was full.
For now, Ken and June will continue cleaning up, hoping they won’t have to leave behind a piece of their hearts.