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Story on Hurricane Ian's affect at trailer park nets radio news award

Tom Bayles

A story and photos by a WGCU reporter captured second place in the annual Public Media Journalists Association national awards contest.

The award was announced at the recent 2023 PMJA conference in San Antonio, Texas.

The Oct. 19 story by Environmental Reporter Tom Bayles recounted the reaction of Douglas Loria, a resident at the Tropicana 55-plus mobile home community off McGregor Boulevard not far from the Sanibel Causeway.

Bayles talked with Loria about the wholesale destruction Ian wrought on his trailer, and those of other residents of the park and area.

“It’s a wonderful community if you like talking to people all the time,” Loria said. “They go by and say ‘hi’ and you know, you drop what you’re doing and talk fifteen, twenty minutes, half an hour.

“I’m going to miss that,” he said, standing shirtless in the mobile home that was all but destroyed by Hurricane Ian last month. “That’s probably the biggest thing.”

The story concluded with Loria, after packing up what little meaningful items were left for him, saying he now had freedom.

“I am free to go wherever,” he said, a smile on his face amidst the destruction. “I feel good.”

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