Hurricane survivors looking for shelter, work

Hurricane Unemployment
Published: Oct. 11, 2022 at 10:51 AM EDT
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FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. (WWSB) - Hurricane Ian destroyed vibrant beach communities in Fort Myers, leaving people homeless -- and jobless.

Michael Wetzel is a longtime Fort Myers Beach resident. “I’ve been through a couple tragedies I guess,” he said.

Wetzel says this hurricane was unlike anything he’s seen roll through his hometown.

Mobile home communities now look like landfills, and enormous boats picked up and stacked one on top the other throughout the island.

Wetzel, like so many others, facing a new normal trying to find a safe and stable place to live. He worked at the local Publix before the storm. “A lot of people lost jobs,” he said. “My job is washed out.”

In addition to losing his job, he lost his boat. His vessel, along with two other neighbors’ boats, were damaged and carried far away from where it was originally docked.

“They’re tangled up in the mangrove trees about a mile from here,” Wetzel said.

It’s a cleanup that will take weeks if not months and while the extent property damage is visible to the naked eye, Wetzel is just thankful to be alive and well.

He says boats, homes and jobs are replaceable, but people are not. “I don’t value possessions so much in life. I value life.”