FT. MYERS BEACH, Fla. – The wrath of Hurricane Ian left Fort Myers Beach in shambles. More than a week later, search and rescue teams are still at work.
Sergeant Wily Diaz with Miami police escorted reporter Bridgette Matter through Fort Myers Beach on Thursday. At every turn, they saw ruins of what used to be.
“It looks like a bomb was dropped, everything here is gone.” Diaz said.
While driving, a request for cadaver dogs came over the radio, “Can I get a HR dog to (address)?” Diaz clarified, “HR means human remains.”
A grim reality for first responders working non-stop trying to save anyone they can. According to Miami Fire Rescue, bodies were recovered Wednesday.
“What we are seeing is homes washed away in the storm surge could have potentially ended up in the water,” Captain Ignatius Carroll with Miami Fire Rescue said.
In an apartment complex parking lot, many cars are marked with orange tape. That indicates rescue crews have gone through the cars, searching for casualties or survivors.
Reporter Bridgette Matter and a photographer followed South Florida Urban Search and Rescue Florida Task 2 out of Miami as they prepared to go out on the water and search mangroves.
“All of these little dots are possible hot spots,” one member of the search team said while looking at a map. They are using a drone to guide another team conducting searches off the coast.
Another member of the team added, “looking for any spots we missed, looking for any potential fatalities that might be stuck in the brush.”
Miami Fire Rescue took video of canals they searched Thursday afternoon, some homes were torn off and thrown from their foundation.
Frank Murray, 77, said he and his family stayed for the storm.
“You see entire houses floating down -- you see things going crazy, I mean the noises, the banging,” Murray said.
He said he will stay and rebuild. “I’ve got someone’s entire kitchen that washed through the back wall of the house.”
Once the debris piles are searched and all areas looked at, the rescue teams will tell local officials their job is complete and there is no more they can do. But before that happens, they will continue their work to make sure no one is left behind.