Local

‘We're not leaving the Keys, no matter what’

Nikki Holden points to piles of debris left behind by Hurricane Irma at what was her mother’s trailer in Trailer Ranch by the Sea in Marathon.
Nikki Holden points to piles of debris left behind by Hurricane Irma at what was her mother’s trailer in Trailer Ranch by the Sea in Marathon. Keynoter

Of the 44 mobile homes that once stood in the oceanside Trailer Ranch by the Sea in Marathon, few remain standing post-Hurricane Irma.

One was even picked up by the rising water and washed north about 50 yards. Seaweed hangs from its windows, where it was dropped as if Irma decided it should be placed there in the park at mile marker 50.5. Others are completely missing walls, exposing a peek inside living rooms and bedrooms.

A purple trailer that once sat facing the ocean and dock is completely gone.

It’s where Dianne Senter, a Florida Keys resident for 30 years, lived.

“I would like to think we can rebuild here but with the massive amount of damage, not only to the trailers but the infrastructure…,” she told the Keynoter Thursday, choking back tears. “It’s 30 years I’ve been here and it’s the memories.”

Senter was in Missouri when Irma struck on Sept. 10. In the wake of the hurricane, there is not much left of the place she once called home. She’s been staying in a travel trailer with her daughter and son-in-law, who came made the trek to the Keys from Missouri on Sept. 22 to help clean up.

Senter’s daughter Nikki Holden said there have been some comical moments, like when her husband found and retrieved her bathing suit top from the nearby mangroves. Senter said she was grateful to find more-meaningful mementos in the sand that were not blown away in the storm.

“There was a little tile that my grandson made for me and a concrete piece that we put up that my little granddaughters put shells into. We were so grateful,” she said.

One of the saddest parts about the experience for Senter was the loss of her friend Bob Wheeler. He died at Marathon High School, the Middle Keys shelter of last resort, during the storm. Authorities said his death was not the result of the hurricane.

“Bob had called and asked if there was anything he could get out of the house. I asked if he would get some of the fishing rods, the outriggers, my jewelry and Nikki’s jewelry,” Senter said. “And he did.”

What happens now with Trailer Ranch by the Sea is up in the air, as most of the trailers are unlivable. The community has been there for decades.

“We’re not leaving the Keys no matter what,” Senter said. “We had thought at one point about selling the trailer and now, we can’t. Someone has to stay and rebuild, and we’re going to be among those people.”

Katie Atkins: 305-440-3219

  Comments