Claudia McEwen, right, in front of her new 76th Street home, with Frank Marrow, district sales manager for Georgia-based manufacturer Affinity Building Systems.

By the time Christmas rolls around, Claudia McEwen will be able to decorate her brand new 76th Street home. 

With the exception of the last 12 months, she’s lived on the same lot since 1982. Like many, McEwen lost her home to Hurricane Irma and has spent months jumping through hoops, she said, to get a new home.

Sept. 21, she jumped for joy instead, as both parts of an elevated modular home were delivered from Lakeland, Ga., and set on their pilings. Next, the two parts will be “married,” as the manufacturer’s general manager calls it, with all the finishing touches complete around November or December. 

“The happy ending starts today,” said Marilyn Tempest, who spoke about McEwen, her friend of 20 years. “She is concluding a post-Irma saga.”

“I never had to worry about a place to live,” McEwen said. “(Tempest) took me in after the storm, and I took care of her house until she came back to the Keys in December. We’ve been friends for a long time and she and I are both very active at Marathon Community Theater.” 

McEwen was a local pediatrician from 1980 to 2000, and followed that career as a paralegal until 2015. 

The ground-level oceanside home she bought in 1982 flooded during the storm.

“Everything below five feet was pretty much destroyed, so I jumped through all the hoops and did all the things and bought this new house,” she said. 

The 1,400-square-foot modular was manufactured by Affinity Building Systems.

“The Keys are our biggest market,” said district sales manager Frank Marrow. “We’re booked now through February, with about a dozen of our homes going up in Marathon.”

They’re built to withstand 180-mph winds, he said. 

“I went through about six of our homes after Irma, and there was no damage in any of them, up and down the Keys,” he said. 

The street is just one of many being “resurrected in true Marathon Strong fashion,” Tempest said. 

“I’m so ecstatic,” McEwen said. “It’s going to be my Christmas present to myself.”

She also thanked Keys Contracting for its help through the process. 

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