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Lee County Sheriff discusses post-storm safety

Posted at 8:15 PM, Jan 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-18 11:28:25-05

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — 24 hours after the multiple tornadoes hit Southwest Florida, neighbors are coming together to assess the damage.

Meanwhile, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno is working to make sure no one is looting or taking advantage of residents impacted by the tornadoes.

“Too good to be true is too good to be true," Marceno warns. "If someone is offering to fix your house at a rate that is almost you can’t even believe it... first thing, make sure someone has a license [and] they have insurance. If something happens in your house, the liability falls on the homeowner."

You can also check into the contracting company with the county before someone works on your house.

Marceno suggests you remember to safeguard your house the best you can. If you see someone browsing around your neighborhood, call the authorities - for the safety of everyone.

“Your home is your home," the sheriff said. "If you are uncertain, if you see something that doesn’t appear to be right, call us. We want to help you and make our residents safe."

Even after all the devastation the community is really coming together, but it's hard to imagine what they are going through.

“In a matter of seconds that person‘s life has changed, so you do everything you can and it’s still not enough... you can’t change or control weather, but we’re very lucky that in this county we work so well together,” said Marceno.

The sheriff says his office is pulling all details and plans together to expedite the relief process. It involves a lot of travel, coordination and communication.

“We’re in those areas right now as we speak. I spoke yesterday to the Governor’s office, Senator Scott’s office, Senator Rubio’s office. Everybody wants to help those in need.

"It’s nice to see, even though this is a tragic event... everyone comes together to make sure we help everybody,” Marceno said.

Neighbors in the affected areas say they are touched by the response, both from their public safety officials and from people coming in from all corners.

“When we first pulled up here yesterday, it was pure devastation," said one resident. "We’ve had a couple people and a non-profit organization come in to help. We had a guy on Facebook willing to help and we’ve had 40 people here alone that just helped all of the neighbors clean up the yards. It’s just been phenomenal having the help.”

The Lee County Sheriff's Office is working with the United Way and the Red Cross and other relief agencies.

You can call 211 to reach United Way.