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STORM-READY WITH FOX 4: What renters should do to be hurricane-ready

Posted at 7:29 PM, May 30, 2024

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — It's hard to believe Hurricane Ian hit nearly two years ago, because it seems longer than that sometimes. For some, it's still impacting them today.

Images and sounds from Hurricane Ian are still vivid for so many of us in southwest Florida, like Genelle Bennett.

She lived in southeast Cape Coral and planned on going to a hotel during Ian. However, the hotel revoked her reservation last minute.

"My plan B at that time was just to stay put and just have faith everything was going to be okay," Bennett said.

Faith brought Bennett to her landlord's home. She rode out the storm there until the sun came up.

"We decided to take a risk and drive over there and see what it looked like," Bennett said.

She also drove by senior reporter Kaitlin Knapp's house, letting Knapp know her home flooded.

"Life changed for both of us," Bennett said.

Knapp knew Bennett before Ian, because she was her property manager with All American Property Management for her rental home.

While dealing with three of Bennett's flooded properties, she had to process what happened to her own home.

"It was not expected at all, because we just figured we would be able to go back there and live there the next day," Bennett explained.

Her home flooded and she lost about 75% of her stuff, including childhood toys and family albums. The front window broke and the back lanai collapsed, too.

Because of her connections, she was able to find another rental a few days later. Though nearly two years later, the storm is still making an impact.

"My mom is still scared though. She still has PTSD from Ian for sure," Bennett said. "I think there are still remnants of things from the hurricane, things I'm missing that I used to have."

She's piecing together the life that she had in her old home. But she's also sharing her knowledge as a property manager with you, so you can be storm ready, even as a renter.

"An owner can choose to or not choose to put up hurricane shutters," she explained.

Bennett says if you're going to put up shutters, check your lease because Bennett says many do not allow you to put up plywood on the windows.

Also, take a video of your home before and after the storm.

"I suggest you start in the front of the house, say today's date what not and then you do a full video of the front and back to the house," Bennett said.

Send everything to your landlord right away so that way they know what's going on ahead of time.

Also, have renters insurance and a back-up plan if you cannot stay home.

Most importantly, just like in the case of Knapp and Bennett with both of their homes flooding, she says have patience.

"Be understanding of each other and what they're going through," Bennett said.