Saturday, February 24

Pine Island evacuates help one another after Hurricane Ian destruction

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Agusto “Kiko” and Julia “Gordie” Villalon returned to Pine Island after fleeing Hurricane Ian, leaving just as the slow-moving storm’s winds and rain began to batter the island. Nearly a week later, they were on a boat back to their mobile home.

They weren’t sure what they would find — they weren’t even sure their home would be there.

Many who evacuated Cape Coral, Matlacha, and Pine Island are trickling back to check on their homes. Not all are returning to stay – some homes are unlivable right now, or can’t meet the needs of their owners, many of whom are older adults or disabled.

More than a week ago, Hurricane Ian hit Pine Island, a vulnerable, coastal community of blue-collar workers and retired, older adults. At 155 miles an hour, its 60-mile-wide eyewall sat just off the coast of southwest Florida for hours, beating the area with wind, rain, and storm surges until it smashed in roofs and walls, snapped wooden telephone poles, dropped boat blocks from where they had been anchored, and floated cars and mobile homes.

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