United Way opens disaster assistance center in North Naples

Reporter: Michelle Alvarez Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:

After spending 24 hours stuck in an attic as Hurricane Ian slammed Southwest Florida, Priscilla Russell made it out alive. Her home wasn’t as lucky. Thankfully, volunteers with United Way came in to help.

Since Hurricane Ian hit, United Way volunteers have worked to help people impacted by the storm. United Way of Collier and the Keys is furthering their mission by opening a disaster assistance center in North Naples.

“We have all of the resources here. We walk them through the process, through the different steps that exist in the disaster recovery process, and learn how to navigate that to what they want for their recovery,” said Aileen Castro, a disaster case manager with United Way.

The center along Tamiami Trail will offer assistance in finding housing assistance, food, clothing, and emotional support counseling.

“There was about four feet of water in my house. My refrigerator was floating. Dining room table was floating. And there was a lot of damage,” said Priscilla Russell, of East Naples.

Priscilla Russell damaged East Naples home. (Credit: Shared with WINK News)

United Way was there for Russell in the days after Ian. She said she stayed in her attic for 24 hours during and after the storm and is thankful to be alive. “My family had said that it was bad enough that they felt I should just have the house knocked down, sell the land and go from there.”

In November, she heard United Way could help and reached out. “Then, just before Christmas, they came by, and I got my Christmas miracle because they told me there was no reason that they couldn’t fix it up and I couldn’t move back in. And I’m almost there. I should be in in the next couple of weeks,” Russell said.

This new center will open Monday through Friday at 2044 Tamiami Trail North at the Coastland Center Mall. They welcome folks affected by the storm, living in Collier County, to visit the center and take advantage of the help.

The United Way disaster assistance center in North Naples is helping people by appointment. You can make an appointment by calling 239-359-8179.

United Way says they will be closed for staff training on Tuesday, February 28, and Wednesday, March 1.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.