Make Your Home Hurricane Proof

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The city of Punta Gorda, Fla., never stood a chance against the 145 mile per hour fury of Hurricane Charley three years ago.

The damage was devastating. Dozens of people lost their lives. Thousands more, including Jim Minardi, lost their homes and all their memories.

"Everything was gone, including the refrigerator -- that blew out the front door," Minardi said.

But Minardi's rebuilt home was designed to withstand the force of a hurricane, and the community has rallied to recreate many of the buildings destroyed in 2004.

Things today in Punta Gorda are still not quite back to normal. The downtown looks like a vacant lot; gas meters rise out of the grounds of trailer parks like grave markers.

Soon after the storm, nearly 2,000 residents formed a citizens group called Team Punta Gorda dedicated to rebuilding the town. They brought in city planners to map out a new city.

"The city government was just trying to do day-to-day, so we got people together, and as a result of that came the citizens' master plan," said the president of Team Punta Gorda, Roger Peterson.

Now there's new construction everywhere.

The Punta Gorda Marina, where boats rocked like toys in a bathtub during Hurricane Charley, is now a yacht club. A fire station that once lay in ruins shines in the sun today.

"I think the community spirit is really what made this happen," said Punta Gorda Mayor Larry Friedman.

That community spirit -- plus a new hurricane-proof house -- has convinced Jim Minardi to stay in Punta Gorda. He is confident his new home could withstand another storm.

"This house is built incredibly well as far as hurricane standards go," Minardi said.

Make Your House Hurricane Proof

Hurricane season officially begins Friday. If you live in a hurricane zone, you can visit the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes Web site -- www.Flash.org -- for the latest innovations on building hurricane-proof homes.

The following Web sites also have information and products that can help homeowners make their homes hurricane proof:

www.PGTindustries.com

www.mercedeshomes.com

American Test Labs of Florida

www.strongtie.com

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