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SUNRISE (CBS4) – Broward County’s tornado victims and local officials met Saturday morning to discuss the next steps in moving forward after Tuesday’s tornado.

Homeowners met at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at a Sunrise-hosted Town Hall meeting in the community room at Flamingo Park, 12855 NW Eighth St. where the commission, Sunrise police officials, fire and other departments gave then guidance on what’s next in the rebuilding efforts.

Broward County is seeking a disaster declaration from the U.S. Small Business Administration so tornado victims can apply for low-interest loans to repair their homes, the Sun Sentinel reported.  The loans would cover only uninsured losses.

Members of the state’s Department of Emergency Management arrived early Thursday morning to take notes and assess the damage so they can determine the monetary amount to award the neighborhoods.

Neither city can qualify for aid from the Federal Emergency Management Association because not enough homes were damaged.

On Wednesday, neighbors and strangers pitched in to help those with damaged homes.

“I know if this would have happened to our house, they’d be out here to help us as well,” said Ozzie Matthews.

Many residents are staying with friends and family members.

Matthews was just one of a group of men who worked into Wednesday repairing and securing damaged residences in the Sunshine City Mobile Home Park, at Commodore Drive and 4th Street, in Plantation.

Joan Donohue was grateful.

“They didn’t know us at all, you know, and we asked them to do a few things and they did it,” said Donohue.

Maureen Bradley and Bob Ratke, whose mobile home was destroyed, spent the day salvaging what they could.

“It’s a mess, an absolute mess,” said Bradley.

“It’s a house,” said Ratke, “We’re glad we weren’t here.”

Bradley and Ratke didn’t spend the night in their former home which neighbors watched over all long to keep looters away.
Many of the mobile homes were unoccupied because the residents are snowbirds.

According to the National Weather Service, the EF-2 tornado with tops winds of 120 mph had a width of about 125 yards and tore a path of destruction for more than a mile.

Slideshow: Tornado Damage & South Florida Flooding

Two dozen homes in the New Orleans Estates, at NW 133rd Avenue and 8th Street in Sunrise, were damaged. Two had their roof tops ripped off; others had roof damage, broken widows and trees blown over.

Homes which have been deemed uninhabitable will have fences erected fences around them to keep the neighborhood safe, according to city officials.   Thursday morning they walked the line of damage created by the twister.

“The reason I’m out here is to see if we can help them out next year with their assessment, to see if there is a possibility that we can lower their taxes for a year to help them out,” said John Chesler with the county’s Property Appraiser’s Office.

That’s good news for homeowners Earl Loomis and Patricia Drabek who have had a construction crew working their damaged home.

“So far so good,” said Loomis.  “I was expecting worse but it’s actually been pretty painless.”

Ken DaArmas, who owns a high end landscaping business, said when he heard about the tornado he brought his crew in to help the homeowners for free.

“It’s just a combined effort to try to help everybody out,” said DeArmas, “Neighbors helping neighbors.”


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