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Residents in low-lying Pinellas mobile home park told to elevate houses or leave

“It can’t be lifted that far up and still have integrity,” one resident said. “The home is going to collapse on itself.”

Pinellas County has ordered dozens of residents in a frequently flooded mobile home park to elevate their homes to nearly 11 feet or leave by the start of hurricane season in June.

Residents of Twin City park, which is in the Gandy area, say it makes no sense to spend as much as $50,000 to elevate homes that are valued at half that amount — or less. Some have nowhere to go and plan to stay as the summer deadline approaches. Others say they intend to move out of Florida because of hurricanes, sea-level rise and flooding.

“I’ve done it for 10 years,” said Douglas McVey, who replaced the floors in his home five times after storms. “I’m done.”

In October, Pinellas County sent letters to residents of 82 Twin City homes, including McVey, requiring that they elevate or evacuate their homes by June 1. It’s the first time in at least five years that the county has issued the “notices of temporary occupancy,” county officials said. Twin City residents were the only people to receive the letter from the county after Hurricane Idalia.

The county participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, which means it has adopted federal floodplain regulations in exchange for having flood insurance available to the community.

The elevation notices sent to Twin City help keep the county in line with those federal guidelines so it doesn’t lose this source of disaster assistance funds, county officials said. They say residents of the park, which was built before Pinellas County put those requirements in place, need to comply with changing floodplain maps consistent with projected sea-level rise.

The county’s floodplain manager, Lisa Foster, said it’s in residents’ “best interest to elevate or relocate before next hurricane season.”

“The premise of the requirements are logical,” she said. “We’re trying to protect people — ultimately that’s the end goal — because we don’t want them to repetitively flood. Especially these individuals. They have more trouble than others, in some cases, to be able to get back up on their feet after a flood.”