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Black Island residents frustrated after being forced to evacuate after Ian

Reporter: Michael Hudak

We’re getting our first look at another area hit hard by Hurricane Ian; Black Island

“We can’t get into our building. We can’t get any of our stuff,” said Bob Irzyk, who evacuated from Black Island.

The people who live on Black Island feel like the communication has gone black.

“We were extremely surprised. You always hear the stories, say, if somewhere on the west coast there’s a wildfire and someone knocks on your door, and you gotta leave with whatever clothes you have on your back. It kinda felt like that,” said Irzyk.

This is why after Hurricane Ian made landfall, the people who live on Black Island, for the most part, were safe in their homes. Two days after landfall, they were told to evacuate.

“The bridges that are nearby, the San Carlos Pass Bridge and the New Pass Bridge, both of those have been deemed unsafe. But we can’t seem to get any information from anybody about when they’ll be safe. When can we get back,” Irzyk said.

The bridges were not structurally sound. The damage they sustained during the storm made them unsafe to drive on.

“It was an emergency evacuation by the Bonita Fire Department. So we had to get out of the building in a span of about 30 minutes. Grab as much stuff as we possibly could and get out of there,” said Irzyk.

Irzyk and his wife had to find somewhere else to live.

“That’s kind of a scary thing when you think about it. You’re forced to evacuate. You don’t really know where you’re going. You’ve gotta make split decisions. Some of those can be good. Some of those can be bad,” said Irzyk.

And they’re not the only ones.

“They’re frustrated. One of my owners, her husband is a quadriplegic, and, you know, she keeps talking and telling me she needs to go back and get more stuff for her husband,” said Olga Bartolloti, a property manager on Black Island.

Since then, they say there’s been little to no communication about when they might be able to return to their homes.

“I see the advancements at the bridge on Pine Island, even if it’s a temporary bridge, right? I see the advancement that they’re making on Sanibel. Even if that’s temporary too. Why are we not getting that kind of support?” asked Bartolloti.

Bartolloti says they have gotten little to no guidance from the county, from FDOT, or from the City of Bonita Springs as to when the passes will be passable and when they go to the checkpoints and talk to deputies there.

“I went on Sunday, and they told me, ‘oh, no, that could take up to months to fix,”¬†Bartolloti said.