NewsLocal News


Last temporary shelter closes in Collier as Hurricane Ian survivors seek other forms of shelter

Posted at 10:24 PM, Nov 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-14 22:24:08-05

COLLIER CO., Fla. — As hurricane relief efforts continue throughout Southwest Florida, we’re also seeing more temporary shelters closing.

But not all who survived Hurricane Ian are making progress as quickly as others.

The last shelter available in all of Collier County closed at noon today. But not everyone staying there has found a new home.

"First and foremost, I need a home. I need funds and it’s hard.”

Frustration, confusion, and a desperate plea for help. For Pricilla Gutierrez that’s how life is right now.

“That’s my biggest issue- I don’t have housing, I don’t have support," says Gutierrez. "If I can’t work I can’t put gas in my car, I can’t pay insurance, I can’t pay medical expenses, I can’t pay for medication. It’s just the domino effect.”

She and her four children are homeless after staying at the Red Cross shelter off Livingston Road the last month. And now forced to live out of her car.

"With the whole hurricane that happened, it destroyed our house," she says. "So obviously we went to the red cross shelter. We’re thinking there- they’re going to help you. They state all of these things they’re going to help you with and they don’t follow through with them.”

In a statement to Fox 4, the Red Cross said workers are connecting with shelter residents to help them plan for the future and make housing arrangements. They also said staff has been meeting one-on-one, with people, on their next steps prior to the shelter’s closure to help them establish a longer-term recovery plan.

But Gutierrez says no help could be offered for her.

"Our family size is way too big. They said our family would have to pay out of pocket. And then with FEMA, the way FEMA works, we didn’t even get approved at all. There were just so many roadblocks.”

There are other shelters open, including one in Lee County. But unless you live in Lee County, you won’t be allowed to stay.

With few options, Gutierrez says she’ll continue searching for a shelter, a hotel room… anything.

"There’s not much you can do, unless you want to leave the area. I don’t have any resources outside of Collier County. It’s harder for me to just walk into a county say hey, what can you help me with? There’s not much I can do but look.”