Land, air, sea: Rescue crews search for survivors

Hurricane Ian

(NewsNation) — With the bridge to Sanibel destroyed, the only way to get on the Florida island right now is by boat. In response, volunteers from around the Southeast are helping evacuate people from their homes, some of which had water up to the roofline during Hurricane Ian.

Many of the island’s residents are relieved to be alive, including many elderly evacuating with their pets.

“It was nice to be on safe ground. We are thankful they came and got us. For a couple of hours, I thought this was it. But it wasn’t and we survived and the rest is just stuff,” Mary Lou Hollers, a local, told NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” on Friday.

Sanibel Island was almost totally underwater during the storm and it will take years to rebuild. As of today, most of the island is uninhabitable.

“It almost feels apocalyptic out here. It is so quiet. We are told right now this is still a rescue operation, not a recovery operation. But in this area, the water went above the mobile homes … They were fully covered and we are told there are likely people inside who did not make it and have not been discovered yet,” Jeff Pursley told “Rush Hour” on Friday.

Pursley is one of the volunteers rescuing people using his boat he brought up from the Florida Keys.

“They [volunteers] are trying. There are only so many, though. So it is all hands, like a good Samaritan thing, you know?” he said.

And the lifesaving work of these good Samaritans for people who have lost everything seems to be paying off.

“I’m glad to be alive. That is all I can say. I have never prayed so hard in my life. And I am going to live my life different now, I will tell you that much. I’m just grateful to be alive,” said Michelle Tolbert.

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