‘I’ve lost everything’: 2 Minnesota families with homes in Florida share what they’re seeing in the wake of Hurricane Ian
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Block after block of devastation can be seen in Ricky Anderson’s Fort Myers neighborhood.
He had just moved in on June 1.
“I had to evacuate and everything,” he says. “Now, I’ve lost everything. My life savings, my tools. Everything.”
Days after Hurricane Ian slammed the southwest Florida coast, marooned boats litter the landscape, stranded by a massive storm surge.
Some of Fort Myers’ dock areas look like nautical wrecking yards.
“You come by the Fort Myers marina, and there are boats of all sizes,” says Jordan Bohonek, who has a home nearby. “Particularly the big boats that are run up on the shore, or they’re sinking or have sunk.”
Experts say Hurricane Ian may have caused as much as $70 billion in damages for Florida .
Bohonek, from Albert Lea, flew down to Florida to check on his Fort Myers home.
He says amazingly, there was only some minor roof damage.
“We’ve got a clay roof on our house so we’ve got some damage from the lifting, but thank goodness, none missing,” he says.
But elsewhere, Bohonek says Ian has drastically changed the landscape.
“The devastation is just awful for the people here,” he explains. “The buildings that we all know and love, the restaurants and bars in Fort Myers that we all know and love, they are just gone.”
On Wednesday, Gayle and Bob Werner, from Minnetonka, began driving south to their new home.
“We actually moved out of our house on Tuesday, and we packed up our two cats and plotted a course down to Naples,” she says. “We didn’t know where the hurricane would go, or what the effects would be.”
The Werners shared several photos of their journey with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.
Some of those captures show how the Myakka River near Sarasota flooded I-75, forcing them and countless other motorists to divert to side routes.
“So the interstate is closed in both directions,” Gayle Werner says. “All the interstate highways are being detoured off the highway and through wherever. We’re in heavy, heavy traffic, and we’re in, I don’t know, four to five inches of water on the road and both sides of us.”
Werner took more photos of Ian’s destruction from her passenger seat.
She says her family has also been lucky that their new home is in good shape, with no damage.
But Werner adds she’s well aware that others have not been as fortunate.
“This is not a common kind of storm, it was so big,” she says. “There hasn’t been a storm this big in, I don’t know, how many years.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency says it’s already started with planning efforts to rebuild storm-ravaged areas.
Meanwhile, wireless carriers say they’re moving large numbers of portable cell towers to Florida to help with communications.
As for the Werners, they arrived safely at their new home around 7:30 Saturday night. Gayle Werner says despite the wide-spread destruction, she has high hopes for the future.
“I think Florida is pretty resilient; they’ve been through hurricanes before,” she declares. “So we know things will come back together, although it could take a while on the coastline for things to come back.”