FT. MYERS BEACH, Fla. – A woman in Fort Myers Beach said her house is unlivable, her car was destroyed — and her medication was swept away when Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida.
As of Monday, according to the Tampa Bay Times, at least 1,700 people in the state remained in emergency shelters due to the storm. It wasn’t clear exactly how many were without homes, but state officials were making plans for emergency housing.
The situation for Wendy McCarthy is serious. She said she’s been struggling with her health insurance to pay for replacement diabetes medication. She said the process has been slow when it comes to dealing with her homeowner’s insurance.
Her home is barely standing.
McCarthy said that when Hurricane Ian began to threaten Fort Myers Beach, she and her dog drove from her home and took refuge at a nearby hotel where she worked. The next morning when she worked up, she realized the hotel was badly damaged and her car was destroyed.
She said when she and her dog attempted to walk home, her city no longer looked like the city she grew up in.
“I saw the decimation of Fort Myers Beach and it was like a bomb went off,” McCarthy said.
She said that as she got closer to her home, a neighbor warned her.
“She says, ‘Don’t look.’ I Was like, ‘Nope. I’m ready.’ And she said, ‘No, we’re worried about you seeing the house,” McCarthy said.
The home was still there, but so badly damaged that it was on the verge of collapsing. Parts of the next door neighbor’s house crashed into her home.
She and her siblings grew up in the home and now it’s uninhabitable. Every stitch of clothing that was inside the house is now gone.
More than 340 miles away in Northeast Florida, Shauna Davis is trying to raise money through a GoFundMe account to help McCarthy overcome her struggles.
“I’ve never done a GoFundMe before. I’ve donated plenty. I feel good when I give my $5, $10 or $100 because when other people give together, it’s for the better. And so, I thought this was the right thing to do for her,” Davis said.
McCarthy’s sister Janet lives in Miami and can only do so much to help her. She said she even went as far as to try and pay for McCarthy’s medication, which out of pocket totals $3,000 a month.
The GoFundMe that was established to help McCarthy as of Tuesday night had raised over $6,500.
The number of storm-related deaths has risen to at least 80 in recent days, both because of the dangers posed by cleaning up and as search and rescue crews comb through the hardest-hit areas. Officials said that as of Monday, more than 2,350 people had been rescued throughout the state.
At least 71 people were killed in Florida, five in North Carolina, three in Cuba and one in Virginia since Ian made landfall on the Caribbean island on Sept. 27, a day before it reached Florida’s Gulf Coast. After churning northeastward into the Atlantic, the hurricane made another landfall in South Carolina before pushing into the mid-Atlantic states.
There have been deaths in vehicle wrecks, drownings and accidents. A man drowned after becoming trapped under a vehicle. Another got trapped trying to climb through a window. And a woman died when a gust of wind knocked her off her porch while she was smoking a cigarette as the storm approached, authorities said.
In hardest-hit Lee County, Florida, all 45 people killed by the hurricane were over age 50.
About 400,000 homes and businesses in Florida were still without power Tuesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.