Carpinteria’s Mike Damron was listening to the rain fall on his RV as a tornado ripped through Sandpiper Mobile Home Park on Tuesday, ripping off the top of the carport and hitting him in the face with a chunk of roof.
“It’s kind of a tradition living here that when you hear a heavy rain, people like to go out and hear it hitting their carport,” Damron said. “It doesn’t rain often here.”
Damron experienced ringing in his ears but was cleared of all injuries after a visit to the emergency room.
On Friday morning, Damron and his wife spoke to insurance adjusters who were assessing the damage from the tornado. Damron was in good spirits. Thankfully, no one was displaced by the storm, and Damron said the community effort has been incredible.
Bill Ferguson waits on a pile of collected rubble to avoid being blown away before being collected. Photo Credit: Grace Kitayama / Noozhawk Photo
More than 20 Habitat for Humanity volunteers were at the Sandpiper Mobile Home Park at Via Real 3950 to clean up after the tornado. Much of the debris contained plastic from a nearby greenhouse that had been blown into the RV park during the tornado.
“I want to have t-shirts printed that say ‘I survived the 2023 tornado,'” Damron said.
About two dozen homes were damaged during the tornado, which included winds of 75 miles per hour.
The type of tornado was a landspout that forms near the ground while storm clouds are still growing, Rose Schoensled of the National Weather Service told Noozhawk.
Trees from the cemetery behind the RV park had plastic and some had to be cut down.
Tonya Martines, general manager of Sandpiper Village, said she was in her office when the tornado started. She looked out her window and saw an awning fly by. After the storm passed, Martines went to survey the damage and is still in “do mode” cleaning up the park.
“First you assess, you make sure people are safe. They make sure no one you know is evicted,” Martines said. “After you assess, find out what’s going on and then develop your plan of attack for the cleanup. So, that’s correct now. We are in the clean-up phase.”
Habitat for Humanity has worked with the mobile home park for several years, helping low-income homeowners with critical home repairs, said Susan Renehan, the organization’s director of philanthropy and external affairs. This enabled the organization to immediately contact the mobile park management to provide assistance.
Tatiana Cruz, who works for the county, said she’s glad she could volunteer as she sees people affected by disasters but can’t always help.
“It’s pretty cool to be able to help because I can’t help much in my position,” Cruz said.
“It’s better than working,” said volunteer Bill Ferguson. Mike Damron and his wife stand in front of their Carpinteria RV, which lost its carport during the tornado. Photo Credit: Grace Kitayama / Noozhawk Photo
Habitat for Humanity’s home repair program is open year-round to low-income homeowners, Renehan said, not just in times of disaster.
Residents can report storm damage in Santa Barbara County by clicking here.
“The information compiled will help the county understand the magnitude of the local impact and advocate for state and federal support on behalf of the community. This form is not an application for financial assistance, nor does it indicate that assistance is currently available,” the county said.
Information on storm-related disaster relief and recovery is available at readysbc.org.