Family that lost house to Hurricane Ian now loses temporary home

Reporter: Taylor Wirtz Writer: Rachel Murphy
Published: Updated:

A family in Charlotte County lost their home during Hurricane Ian, forced to live out of a shed and a bus parked on the property. But the county said it was an ordinance violation and took their makeshift home and bus, along with their contents.

Gary Shallow, his wife and their family of five kids were forced to live in the bus they evacuated in.

The Shallows’ makeshift home (CREDIT: WINK News)

Shallow was able to buy a piece of land in Punta Gorda, where he hoped to build a house. But as he waited on FEMA, they ran out of places to park the bus. The Shallows told the Charlotte County Commissioner’s Office they had no choice but to move onto the land.

“They told us, ‘We understand your situation, but you ain’t supposed to do that.’ And I said, ‘That’s OK, but I have no choice.’ So we did,” Shallow explained.

A Charlotte County spokesperson told WINK News they performed inspections in the following months, confirming that the family was violating county zoning ordinances.

Their case was heard before the special magistrate in August, and officials showed up on Oct. 12 to clear the site, taking Shallow’s damaged boat, a tractor and the bus. Shallow was arrested for trying to intervene.

The family has moved into a hotel, but they’re pleading with the county to give them the bus back.

“We won’t be able to move back here, and we’ll promise them that we won’t,” Shallow said. “But all of our personal belongings are in there.”

The Shallow family is planning to attend the Charlotte County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday at 9 a.m. to speak during public comment.

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