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ONE YEAR AFTER IAN | Couple's house floated off stilts; they swam to neighbor's

Posted at 8:46 PM, Sep 28, 2023

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — Fox 4 first met Ken and Kerry Frietzsche as they ate their first hot meal in days — a hot dog — literally moments after they were rescued from their Fort Myers Beach rental home.

Ken and Kerry told Fox 4's Nadeen Yanes their story of survival that day, and now, a year later, they sat down to talk again... this time from a friend's home off of San Carlos Blvd.

"[We're feeling] emotional," Kerry said. "Still angry that we lost everything... but very blessed."

The couple shared pictures and videos of what little was left behind; one showing their couch left perched on a stilt where their home once stood.

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Videos show the water seeping in, coming so high their home was floating.

"When I was in the water up here, you could feel the undertow," said Kerry. "It was pulling so hard."

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The two tied themselves together with extension cords and were eventually picked up by a wave that carried them in through the second-story window of a neighbor's home. From there, they watched as their home sank beneath the water.

"I do go back to that day quite often," Kerry said. "Especially when hurricane season came back. That was hard. I have a lot of PTSD from having to get out, having to swim. The fear was horrible."

And the fight to survive didn't end there.

"We thought we had everything covered by having renter's insurance," Kerry said. "And they came back and said 'Nope, sorry.' So they gave us a $2,000 check and said 'This is for your living expenses.'"

FEMA also helped them with rent, but it wasn't a lot... Instead, they've relied on their inner circle. Kerry's employer, Shell Point Retirement Community, gave them a place to stay in those first few days. From there, family and friends stepped in.

"So much love... [We feel] grateful and blessed," she said. "I really didn't have any place to go. My brother flew us home so we can get our head on straight... we were there for two weeks, and everything here started falling together."

Today, their search for a permanent, affordable home continues.

"I still feel displaced."

But one year later, they're certain about one thing.

"There is hope out there. There is blessing, there is good people... and be prepared."