A couple is sleeping on a pool table after Hurricane Ian passed by their home in Southwest Cape Coral.
Stephen Weir is making progress while he works to fix up his home for the past 27 years in Cape Coral. The roof of Weir’s home was torn up and walls ripped off from where they stood before. It hasn’t been easy for Weir and his girlfriend Marnie Shore.
“Still rough I mean I hope to get back to work next week. get to sleep in my own bed. We’re sleeping on the pool table,” Shore said.
That’s right since the storm, Weir and Shore are sleeping on a mattress that’s placed on top of a pool table.
“I’ve never seen him scared,” Shore said. “I mean he left a little peephole because we don’t have the window covers with the plywood. Just waves kept coming in that’s when I said we got to go next door.”
Weir and Shore went to their neighbor’s home and stayed there for eight hours waiting for the storm to pass.
“It was rough,” Weir said. “We were just laying there and we just hear the winds just howling again and when was it ever going to stop.”
At a time like Ian, you never know who is going to join you in your shelter. And that’s exactly what happened to another one of their neighbors who joined them and rode the storm out altogether.
“They came down the river in a paddle board and their dog,” Weir said. “A swimming pool with black trash bags of their stuff. And we all waited the storm out together.”
Cape Coral has 160 trucks a day picking up everything they can, and so far, they’ve collected about 350,000 cubic yards of debris out of an estimated 1,800,000 cubic yards.
Terry Schwitzer is Cape Coral’s solid waste manager, and he is urging people to be patient.
“It will get picked up,” Schwitzer said. “This is a temporary situation and we’ll get stuff off the streets so people can get their lives back and start turning around.”
Like many others, Weir never wants to endure something like Ian again.
“It was the worst thing that ever happened to me,” Weir said.
One person was creative and began using an RV shipped down to Southwest Florida from Tennessee to live in.
It’s been almost three weeks since Hurricane Ian hit the Southwest Florida area, and the devastation left behind can be seen all around, in particular in Southwest Cape Coral.
Bodo Knoche is a Cape Coral resident and he shared what it’s like in the city.
“We have helped out neighbors and neighbors have helped us. I have a handyman he tried very hard to organize everything a little bit better, but it’s still a big mess. But, everything can be replaced,” Knoche said.
Knoche is working on doing just that, but he’s using a different place to rest his head. Parked in his front yard is an RV acting as his temporary home and it came all the way from Tennessee.
“A lot of people have their own problems so we don’t find any house where we can move in,” Knoche said. “Of course, it’s not the same like you have your own bed your own room. So, but for the moment we have air conditioning, we have internet we have everything.”
And that positive mindset isn’t only felt on Knoche’s street. Jerry Aleshire lives a few blocks away and told WINK News it’s the only thing keeping him going. Aleshire’s home suffered severe flooding damage from Hurricane Ian.
“Walk in the door, the stench is what hits you at first; you could smell it from the street, the water. It was about 10, eight or 10 days that the water just sat here,” Aleshire said.
Aleshire’s belongings didn’t survive. Everything he owned is now out on the street waiting to be picked up.
“The mess out there. That’s everything that was in the house,” Aleshire said. “Paradise has two sides, you know; this is the other side.”
And while it may not be ideal, he knows it’s only making him and his community stronger.
As people in Southwest Florida continue to separate debris, the City of Cape Coral wants to remind everyone to keep separating their piles for clean-up crews. Also, people should keep them away from any critical infrastructure.