Disabled PSL resident hoping downsized generator does trick


Article Courtesy of The TCPalm

By Chris Young

Published August 30, 2006


PORT ST. LUCIE Jeff Clark, a disabled city resident, prepared for the hurricane season by installing a generator at his house in the Cascades of St. Lucie West.

The liquid-cooled machine would power his entire house, including a medical device that helps him breathe when he sleeps.

Clark is one of many special-needs residents whose storm preparations are more complicated than the average homeowner.

Nine years ago, Clark broke his back after a bad fall playing basketball. He can't spend more than an hour and a half sitting in a car without excruciating pain, and needs to spend many hours a day lying down.

"I'm not able to run from the hurricane," he said.

He said he was better off staying at home than at the city's special-needs shelter, which wouldn't have backup assistance if a medical pump in his body malfunctioned.

So this March he installed the gas-powered generator, the size of a freezer box, next to his garage.

But a discrepancy several months ago between the city, his homeowners association, and the generator company forced him and about 50 other residents to move their $6,000 storm investments farther from their houses.

Cascades homeowner association former president Charlie Jordan said about 120 residents throughout the subdivision have generators similar to Clark's.

Clark's generator, however, was larger than the rest and the amount of safety buffer was so long "it would have been in the neighbor's living room," he said.

So he downgraded it to a smaller model that was only installed last week.

Councilwoman Michelle Berger said regardless of Clark's disability, the city couldn't make an exception because of public safety.

"If it's not safe, we won't give a permit," she said.

Clark said he was very concerned about having the generator up and running if the storm knocks out his power.

"It's very disturbing," he said.