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City of Fort Myers looking to allow trailers as residents rebuild from Ian

trailers in FM
Posted at 4:26 PM, Jan 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-04 05:20:21-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. — On Tuesday, the Fort Myers City Council was discussing an ordinance that would allow RVs to be set up in residential and commercial areas in case of a housing emergency declaration.

Some city residents, like Steve Jacobs, said they were lucky enough to have a second home up north when Hurricane Ian surged through the city of Fort Myers.

“I don't know that we would have been able to stay here without any electricity for that ten-day period,” said Jacobs.

Jacobs said for some of his neighbors, the place they called home was not the same as it was before the storm.

“And they do have an RV in the back in the alleyway, and the family is living there,” said Jacobs.

The RV belongs to Brian Johnson whose family calls the RV home and at one point said it was their only option after Ian destroyed the house that sits just several yards from the RV.

“When you can't find a place that you can afford to live, I don’t know what the other option is,” said Johnson.

It's an option Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson wanted for his residents.

“Those who have suffered a loss from hurricane ian we want to make sure that our codes are not working against them,” said Mayor Anderson.

Mayor Anderson said the ordinance lays the groundwork, rules, and regulations that allow homeowners and businesses to live in temporary homes while they rebuild.

Fox 4 asked Mayor Anderson if the potential ordinance is something the city would have liked to have in place before Hurricane Ian.

"It would have made things move a little quicker had it been done. I appreciate that you recognize that with each storm, each storm is very similar, but the effects are always very different,” said Mayor Anderson.

On Tuesday, Johnson said his RV which sits in the same spot where he says a FEMA trailer is supposed to arrive, has been the foundation for his family to lean on as they work to remodel their guest house as a temporary home.

“ We are hoping in the next month or two to have walls back up and stuff like that and be ready to move back in up there so we can go from, I don't know, 300 square feet to 360 square feet," said Johnson.