A group of young adults started an Instagram page to get volunteers into hard-hit communities to help clean up after Hurricane Ian, rebuilding Southwest Florida one neighborhood at a time.
The group Rebuild SWFL posts clean-up sites, dates and times on its Instagram page, then people just show up. WINK News volunteers at Corky Condon’s house, right off Pine Ridge Road in Lee County. Condon’s landlord contacted the group and said she desperately needed help cleaning up.
Condon survived the storm on Fort Myers Beach, but she lost her beloved dog in the flood. She went to the hospital with an infection afterward and hasn’t had any time to take care of her home.
“It’s heart-wrenching and especially since I’m an artist, I have a lot of art supplies—’Oh, I might use that in this project!’—and it’s all in the street, including, you know, my favorite chaise lounge I spent a lot of time in with my puppy dogs,” Condon said. “But the reason it’s out on the curb is because of the volunteers that spent their time to come and help me, which is just so amazing.”
“It’s honestly amazing,” said Catherine Cortes with Rebuild SWFL. “I never would have imagined that, like, people from out of state would come out to help. I was honestly thinking it may be the community. I was even surprised when people from Miami and Tampa were showing up. Now it’s, like, people are driving and flying in to help.”
The volunteers at Corky Condon’s house even included a mother and son from Pennsylvania. They usually vacation up near Clearwater and told WINK they couldn’t sit there on the beach while things are still so bad down in Southwest Florida, so they drove down to help us. Another girl was from Naples but living in New York, and she flew down for the weekend to help out.