FORT MYERS, Fla. — Nearly a year after Hurricane Ian devastated the Iona community, life remains far from normal for many current and former residents at Indian Creek RV Park.
The Iona neighborhood was one of the hardest hit by Hurricane Ian last year, leaving homes in shambles and lives upended. Today, many are still struggling to rebuild, facing financial burdens that run into thousands of dollars. One resident, Heather Ferguson, estimated her astonishing losses,
"Between Vehicles and personal effects I would say, 80, 90 thousand dollars just gone."
Unfortunately, insurance disparities have exacerbated the situation. Heather shared her struggle, having been unable to insure her manufactured home due to its age and proximity to water. Turning to FEMA for assistance, she received a meager $4,000 in aid, a stark contrast to some others in the community who received substantially more.
Anne Garvin, another former Indian Creek resident, received a FEMA payout of $40,000, about 10 times what Heather received. Both Anne and Heather's homes suffered similar damages, with Anne highlighting the true devastation lying beneath the seemingly intact exterior of her home.
"Once you walk in, you see the actual devastation, pretty much nine hours of 150 mile per hour winds swirling around."
However, even those with insurance weren't safe from the post-disaster challenges. Debbie McClory, a former resident who did receive an insurance payout, found herself facing eviction after investing thousands into rebuilding her home. The heart-wrenching reality of losing not just homes but the effort and resources put into rebuilding. Debbie tells us,
"I'd say we're a little over 10 thousand into it with permits and materials and labor that's been done, I know there are other people here who have been evicted here that were well over $20,000."
Another former resident, Heather Ferguson, emphasized the vulnerability of residents on leased land, facing eviction despite owning their homes.
"They can evict you from something you own, because you are on their leased land."
FOX 4 reached out to Sun Communities, the owners of Indian Creek RV Park. They provided the following statement:
“Our assessment of the electric infrastructure has determined there are irreparable damages created by the storm to the wiring and individual home's power pedestals. We have teamed with FPL to provide a new electrical infrastructure to ensure there are no future service or load concerns. While this takes longer, due to the scope and number of sites, it protects the future of our resident's homes. Throughout this process, we have not charged any rent and we have allowed access to their homes to continue to renovate as each homeowner chooses, said Natalie Higley, Regional Vice President, Operations & Sales.”
"We have completed the initial repairs to the water systems, parts are on order for the lift stations at Indian Creek, said Natalie Higley, Regional Vice President, Operations & Sales."
“Homes are being evaluated based on age, condition and damage from the hurricane as to whether they will be able to remain in the community. Any homes that are going to be rebuilt must meet community standards, which are published in the community rules and regulations, as well as adhere to Lee County permit requirements, said Natalie Higley, Regional Vice President, Operations & Sales.”