Hurricane Ian was the deadliest hurricane to strike the state of Florida in nearly a century, and people are still only beginning the clean-up process.
Debris piles tower over sidewalks throughout Lee County, where Fort Myers is located. Countless homes have tarps covering portions of the roof, if not the whole thing.
On Fort Myers Beach, which was considered ground zero for the hurricane, still looks like a warzone as entire neighborhoods are completely flattened and businesses along the street are gutted.
Hurricane Ian claimed the lives of more than 150 people and caused more than $50 billion in damage as it struck Southwest Florida as a category 4 storm.
Lumped into that damage estimate is Bob Connor’s home, which burned in front of his eyes the morning after the storm. He is not sure what sparked the fire, but he is confident it started with flooded cars in the garage.
“You came into our lives on a horrible day,” he said, referring to our paths crossing the day after Hurricane Ian. “I don’t ever want you to ever experience a hurricane, a tornado, but this is what’s happening in our lives today.”
Connor had lived in his home with his wife for more than a decade. But it was not the belongings or even the home he will miss the most; it is the memories his kids, who are now grown, and their kids have shared inside it.
After the storm, Connor and his wife stayed with their daughter in Clearwater, Florida. Now, they rent a home in the same neighborhood as their old home, waiting for insurance to finish up before rebuilding on the same property.
“From a very broken heart to a very upbeat heart,” he said of his journey over the past six weeks. “The outpouring of love that people give to you is unbelievable. Knowing I have all these neighbors that are a major part of our lives, really, keeps [me and my wife] encouraged about tomorrow.”