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$300k donated to neighborhood of Harlem Heights for Ian recovery efforts

Harlem strong
Posted at 7:42 PM, Feb 28, 2023

HARLEM HEIGHTS, Fla. — Tuesday marked 5-months since Hurricane Ian hit our area, and one Southwest Florida neighborhood that Fox 4 spent a lot of time in after the storm is getting some major help in the rebuilding effort.

It was announced that $300,000 was donated to Hurricane Ian recovery efforts in the Harlem Heights area.

"A lot of times people automatically turn to the Government to solve all of their problems and issues," said Mayor Kevin Anderson. "I'm sorry to say a lot of times we don't do a good job at that. What really makes a difference is when communities come together."

Harlem Heights was a key area that was hit hard during Ian and when walking around the neighborhood you can still see the destruction. Around 400 children live in the neighborhood and recently went back to school just three weeks ago.

“We thought we were going to make it through, but ain't no way we're going to make it through that storm with five feet of water coming in," said Harlem Heights resident Angelo Rivera.

Rivera remembered what it was like when water invaded his home during Hurricane Ian.

“In seconds we had like four feet of water come in,” Rivera said. “I've never been through a storm like this.”

Luckily he and his family were able to swim to his friend Juan Vazquez's home to get on his boat. Vazquez provided photos to Fox 4 photos of what the neighborhood looked like the day of the storm.

Harlem Heights Flooding

“Ian, delivered one hell of a punch, to our community, and while it knocked us down it did by no means knock us out,” Mayor Anderson said. "This community is so resilient so strong, We started bouncing back the next morning. We have not stopped and we will not stop until we are whole again."

Still Standing exactly five months after the storm, Rivera is one of the many Harlem Heights Residents who received a new roof from the Rebuilding Together organization.

“How was I selected? I don't know they just came out of nowhere," laughed Rivera.

$200,000 was donated from the Home Depot Foundation and TD Bank donated $100,000.

“This community needs it too, we need it just like everybody else," said Walter Marion, a Harlem Heights resident.

Marion has called Harlem Heights home for 16 years and like many in the community, he said he can't speak on other organizations or government entities, but he is grateful for the volunteers who came in after Ian to help rebuild.

“Let me tell you something, these volunteer people are doing a good job, they got my house almost done,” Marion said. “We're not forgotten.”

“I love these people, they helped us out and we will help them out,” Rivera said.

The funding that was donated will be used to help families and residents rebuild their homes and lives.