Hurricane is gone, but Florida homeowners still fight floods

Hurricane Ian

(NewsNation) — Hurricane Ian’s destruction of Southwest Florida was devastating, leaving at least 50 people confirmed dead and more than 2.5 million without power, in what was one of the strongest and costliest hurricanes to ever hit the U.S.

Even now, days after the storm moved out of Florida, damage continues to be reported, especially in areas away from the coast, which bore the brunt of the hurricane.

Arcadia, for example, is an hour inland from the Gulf and the neighborhood has been effectively cut in half by floodwaters that have been slow to recede.

“We’ve had the river flood but it’s never been this high … We’re all pretty freaked out by it. This is pretty surreal,” Luke Jones, an Arcadia resident, told NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” on Monday.

All Jones wants to do is get his daughter Gracelynn across town, which has a population of about 8,000.

“The storm was just really unreal — it just kept going and going, so that was just really exhausting preparing for a storm and having to ride it out for 10 hours,” Jones said.

Such was the case all over Desoto County, as other areas initial not flagged for potential disaster — including Orlando, Kissimmee, Daytona Beach and North Port — haven’t yet gotten much attention.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke at both North Port and Arcadia on Sunday afternoon after taking a boat tour of the most impacted areas.

“This is such a big storm (that) brought so much water that you’re having basically what’s been a 500-year flood event here in DeSoto County and in some of the neighboring counties,” DeSantis said. “All throughout this part of Florida … you have a lot of standing water.”

Coastal towns that did get hit the hardest —the barrier islands, for example — are also experiencing difficulty receiving help, as some of these communities are only accessible by boat.

Pine Island is one of these communities, and it’s been cut off from the mainland for going on five days.

When asked how bad the worst of it was, one Pine Island resident named Emily Johnson tells NewsNation:

“To the point where I’m thinking, ‘Wasn’t that Rebecca’s house?’ It’s gone. It’s surreal — it really is. It feels like you’re walking into a movie scene,” Johnson said.

With no way on or off the island, neighbors are looking out for each other.

“I want to make sure everyone knows that it’s occupied and protected. I will not back down. I’m here to protect the neighborhood. I protected that building last night. That building this morning. I’m here to protect everything — whatever I can by myself,” Johnson said.

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