FEMA gives couple less than 24 hours notice to leave hotel they stayed in since Ian

Reporter: Amy Galo Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

A couple staying in a hotel since Hurricane Ian hit Southwest Florida was told last week over the phone by FEMA that the agency would no longer be paying for the hotel they were staying at and would need to either check out or pay it themselves.

When WINK News first spoke with Cathy and Bob McBride on Thursday, they had nowhere to go. But WINK News made some calls to FEMA, ensuring the federal agency knew what was happening and got results.

Cathy and Bob McBride called the Candlewood Suites Hotel their home for three months. However, their real home for over ten years got flooded by the storm.

On the day of the storm, they left with nothing but Bob’s electric wheelchair, clothes, and van.

“Every other thing, every memento, every picture that we’ve accumulated over 52 years, was lost,” Bob said.

Bouncing around from hotel to hotel, spending over $5,000 in the process. But that all changed when Cathy found something.

“I found a hotel named Candlewood Suites in Fort Myers, and they had a cheaper room with a kitchenette. So we booked that room because it was very reasonable,” Cathy said.

And when they got there, they were told FEMA would cover the cost.

“They’ve covered all the hotel stays up to this point,” Cathy said.

But, on March 1, FEMA called telling Cathy and Bob they immediately had to leave.

“We’re always on pins and needles waiting to see: are we going to be renewed? Are we going to be put on the streets? Well, this time, they put us on the streets,” Cathy said.

They were given less than 24-hour notice without an explanation. So they emailed WINK News and then we called FEMA’s John Mills.

“I really appreciate WINK News bringing this to our attention. And it’s being addressed,” Mills said.

Fortunately, it was addressed quickly. After WINK News called FEMA, FEMA called Cathy and Bob explaining they can stay through March 28, and hopefully, by then FEMA will have a more permanent place to live.

“You can probably tell from the looks on our faces, how we feel we feel. At least hopeful at this point,” Cathy said.

The McBrides have already started repairs on their home just off Island Park Road. But, like many others, they’ve run into some issues with getting contractors and costs.

On Monday, Unite Florida, a network providing health and social care, stopped by their home to check it out and offered to help get them back into their home as soon as possible.

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