Hurricane Ian: Florida coast begins to recover from storm

Ian is the third deadliest hurricane to make landfall in the United States this century. For some people, recovery comes with heartbreak.

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Just days after Hurricane Ian made landfall, a crowd of locals gathered under a giant banyan tree at a motel’s outdoor tiki bar to enjoy special drinks and live music. Less than 10 miles away, crews were completing a search for bodies on a coastal barrier island. Even closer, entire families are trying to get comfortable overnight in a collective shelter housing more than 500 hurricane victims.

On a shoreline where just a few miles could mean the difference between life and death, relief and ruin, the contrasting scenes of reality less than two weeks since the storm hit were jarring, and they only out how disasters can have different meanings. Everyone.

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Arlan Fuller has seen the disparity in working in hurricane areas serving underserved communities with Project Hope, a nonprofit that provides medical relief services. Several factors seem to account for the large variation from place to place, he said: People and places near the coast often have the worst, as do those with lower incomes.

“There is an interesting combination of location, structural strength in which people live, and vehicles,” says Fuller.

On Pine Island, where the state quickly erected a temporary bridge to replace one swept away by the storm, volunteers are providing water, rocks, food and supplies. The island’s Publix grocery store reopened with generator capacity faster than it could, much to the delight of island resident Charlotte Smith, who did not evacuate.

“My house is fine. Lower levels caused some flooding. But I’m dry. They have the water working again. Things are actually going pretty well.” Smith said.

Life was very different for 40-year-old Shanika Caldwell, who took her nine children to a collective shelter located inside the Hertz Arena, a light hockey arena, after another shelter was located at a closed public high school so classes can be ready to resume. The family was living in a motel before the storm but had to flee after the roof flew off, she said.

“If they say they’ll start school next week, how am I going to get my kids back all the way here?” she said Saturday. Nearby, a giant silver statue of an ice hockey player overlooks the arena parking lot.

Ian, a powerful Category 4 hurricane with winds of 155 mph, was blamed for more than 100 deaths, most of them in southwestern Florida. It was the third deadliest hurricane to hit the US mainland this century after Hurricane Katrina, which killed about 1,400 people, and Hurricane Sandy, which had a combined death toll of 233 despite weakening into a heat storm. zone just before making landfall.

For some people, recovery is fairly quick. Barber shops, car washes, chain restaurants, a range of guns and vape shops – lots of vape shops – reopened on the 41st of the US, known as the Tamiami Trail in southern Florida. Many traffic lights are working, but residents of low-lying homes and mobile parks near the highway are still shoveling mud left by floodwaters.

In Punta Gorda, near where shops and investment companies do business along a side street lined with palm trees, Judy Jones, 74, is trying to provide more than 40 residents with a shelter for people boneless homeless that she has run for more than 5 decades, Bread of Life Mission Inc.

“I take care of people who fall through the cracks in the system,” she said.

Cheryl Wiese wasn’t homeless: For 16 years, she spent the fall and winter months in her modest mobile home on Oyster Bay Lane, located in Fort Myers Beach, before returning home. a place on Lake Erie in Ohio in the summer. But what she found after driving 24 hours south following Ian, it all just spoiled her.

“I don’t even want to live here anymore. There is no Fort Myers Beach. All my neighbors are gone. All my friends are gone,” she said.

The worst part may have been getting through the devastation to get to the public library to begin the process of applying for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, she said. An employee told her to be ready for a phone call and visit from a FEMA representative, and don’t miss it, Wiese said.

“What if I miss the phone call? She said: “If I miss him? Out of luck. “

Danilo Mendoza, a construction worker from the Miami area whose trailers and tools were blown away by Ian, has seen places where people are getting on with life, where restoration is already underway, but He’s trying his best to stay positive.

He considers himself lucky because he has a safe place to stay at the hockey arena, across from the luxury apartments where people go for morning walks in sportswear and abundant food.

“I see the big picture,” he said, “For God’s sake, they give you brand new blankets. They give you all the things you need to survive.” Hurricane Ian: Florida coast begins to recover from storm

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