Last shelter open after Hurricane Irma to close Saturday

Posted at 6:30 PM, Oct 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-21 17:46:51-04

The clock is ticking for dozens of people displaced by Hurricane Irma. The Estero Recreation Center - Lee County's only remaining storm shelter - is closing Saturday at noon. But some of those still at the shelter six weeks later aren't sure where they will go.

Jacob, who declined to give his last name, has been staying at the shelter with his girlfriend for weeks since the big storm. He was staying with friends before Irma hit Southwest Florida, and said that it's been tough finding a new place - even with help from FEMA.

"They told us they  could help with a down payment on a house," Jacob said Friday. "Due to my losing my job, and not being able to find a house right awa, made things rather difficult."

"I have enough money on my own that I can stay in a hotel for a week, but that's not going to help me in the long run," he added.

Others like Jacob are still scrambling to find housing. But what if they can't find anything by the deadline?

"We're hoping not to get to that point," said Red Cross spokeswoman Dianna Van Horn. "We're trying our darndest, working hard, and have been for the past several days in particular, to try to make sure they've got a place to go before then."

Sometimes, it doesn't always work out. Clifford Clodfelter said he and his cat Baby had to come back to the Estero Rec Center after they went to a hotel.

"We got there, and they wouldn't take the cat," Clodfelter said. "So I said 'bye.'"

He said he has since found another hotel that allows pets.

"It's my understanding that between the resources that the Red Cross has brought in, that the county (Lee) has brought in, and that FEMA has brought in, everyone in shelter has been offered something," said Lynn Kimbrough, a FEMA spokeswoman.