Fort Myers residents return to their homes under water by Hurricane Ian

Author: Yuvi September 30, 2022


Survivors of Hurricane Ian tell how they clung to roofs and walls and prayed for salvation as the Sunshine State awoke to heartbreaking scenes of devastation.

The category four storm pulverized southwestern coastal cities with 155mph winds and swept an 18ft ‘tsunami’ ashore, engulfing homes, businesses and transforming whole neighborhoods into hazardous swamps.

DailyMail.com arrived in Fort Myers Thursday morning to find desperate locals begging for help as they returned home to begin the grim job of salvaging possessions and securing their water-ravaged properties.

‘I’ve lost every damn thing I own,’ said 93-year-old retiree Tom Hinkle, as he stared out at the murky-broken floodwater making it impossible to reach his two-bed retirement home a thousand yards or so from the Gulf of Mexico.

‘I’ve lived in my home for 22 years and it’s gone. My car is even under water,’ he added, with tears in his eyes.

Hinkle made it out alive thanks to Good Samaritan Ray Remillard, 62, who gathered four elderly neighbors from the Sunshine Mobile Village, several miles from Fort Myers Beach, and took them to his company’s apartment further inland.

They returned Thursday to find the majority of the 180 mobile homes completely beyond salvage.

Worse still, several residents, including a pregnant woman, are unaccounted for, according to locals.

Residents of Sunshine Mobile Village returned to find the majority of the 180 mobile homes destroyed

'I've lost every damn thing I own,' said 93-year-old retiree Tom Hinkle, as he stared out at the murky-broken floodwater making it impossible to reach his two-bed retirement home a thousand yards or so from the Gulf of Mexico

‘I’ve lost every damn thing I own,’ said 93-year-old retiree Tom Hinkle, as he stared out at the murky-broken floodwater making it impossible to reach his two-bed retirement home a thousand yards or so from the Gulf of Mexico

Badly shaken and caked in mud, a woman in her 90s looked in disbelief at the floodwater as she was carried out and placed in an ambulance

Badly shaken and caked in mud, a woman in her 90s looked in disbelief at the floodwater as she was carried out and placed in an ambulance

DailyMail.com arrived in Fort Myers Thursday morning to find desperate locals begging for help

DailyMail.com arrived in Fort Myers Thursday morning to find desperate locals begging for help

'Everyone is distraught.  They just want to get back to their homes but there are no homes to get back to,' one resident explained

‘Everyone is distraught. They just want to get back to their homes but there are no homes to get back to,’ one resident explained

Some residents heeded warnings to flee their homes while their neighbors chose to stay behind

Some residents heeded warnings to flee their homes while their neighbors chose to stay behind

President Biden has declared the event a 'major disaster' in Florida which makes federal funding available

President Biden has declared the event a ‘major disaster’ in Florida which makes federal funding available

Search and rescue teams from the McGregor Fire Department took to the water in dinghies

Search and rescue teams from the McGregor Fire Department took to the water in dinghies

A woman in her 90s was ferried to safety Thursday morning as search and rescue teams from the McGregor Fire Department took to the water in dinghies.

Badly shaken and caked in mud, she looked in disbelief at the floodwater as she was carried out and placed in an ambulance.

‘Everyone is distraught. They just want to get back to their homes but there are no homes to get back to,’ Remillard explained.

‘When the winds came there wasn’t much protection. There are homes that just floated away. The car ports are gone, the roofs peeled off.

‘We have physically challenged people here, others with dementia. They didn’t ignore the warnings they just didn’t have any place to go.’

Ian transformed Fort Myers and the surrounding communities of Iona and McGregor into a maze of fallen trees and debris with cars flipped upside down, roofs torn from homes and ‘hundreds’ feared dead along the coast.

Whole streets and intersections remain under several feet of floodwater with returning residents doing their best to edge through the swell, with no working traffic signals or stop lights.

Ian transformed Fort Myers and the surrounding communities of Iona and McGregor into a maze of fallen trees and debris with cars flipped upside down, roofs torn from homes and 'hundreds' feared dead along the coast

Ian transformed Fort Myers and the surrounding communities of Iona and McGregor into a maze of fallen trees and debris with cars flipped upside down, roofs torn from homes and ‘hundreds’ feared dead along the coast

Good Samaritan Ray Remillard gathered four elderly neighbors from the Sunshine Mobile Village, several miles from Fort Myers Beach, and took them to his company's apartment further inland

Good Samaritan Ray Remillard gathered four elderly neighbors from the Sunshine Mobile Village, several miles from Fort Myers Beach, and took them to his company’s apartment further inland

Resident Samuel Martinez braved the storm but ended up clinging to an exterior wall for dear life in Ionia Duplex close to Fort Myers Beach

Resident Samuel Martinez braved the storm but ended up clinging to an exterior wall for dear life in Ionia Duplex close to Fort Myers Beach

A baby clings on to her barefoot mother outside as all their belongings are strewn along the sidewalk

A baby clings on to her barefoot mother outside as all their belongings are strewn along the sidewalk

Whole streets and intersections remain under several feet of floodwater

Whole streets and intersections remain under several feet of floodwater

Some residents were seen kayaking through what used to be streets of their Fort Myers neighborhood

Some residents were seen kayaking through what used to be streets of their Fort Myers neighborhood

Resident Daniel Suarez told DailyMail.com of his neighbors, 'The water was so strong they couldn't push the front door open so they had to break through the drywall on to the stairwell then climb up and break into our apartment to get to safety '

Resident Daniel Suarez told DailyMail.com of his neighbors, ‘The water was so strong they couldn’t push the front door open so they had to break through the drywall on to the stairwell then climb up and break into our apartment to get to safety ‘

Daniel Suarez, 39, and his wife Heather, 37, heeded warnings to flee their second floor apartment but their downstairs neighbors chose to stay behind.

‘Around 3pm their place was completely flooded. Their vehicle was floating around in the parking lot,’ Daniel told DailyMail.com.

‘The water was so strong they couldn’t push the front door open so they had to break through the drywall on to the stairwell then climb up and break into our apartment to get to safety.

‘I left the guy my keys but in all the hullabaloo he must have dropped them into the water.’

Samuel Martinez, 39, said he and his family were lulled into a false sense of security when they saw Ian tracking north towards Tampa.

30 September, 2022, 4:40 am

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