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IONA | Woman whose story touched people after Ian talks about hope 1 year later

Posted at 10:52 PM, Sep 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-28 09:29:19-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — When you go to Sandra Wood’s house, the first thing she’ll tell you is to watch out for the tools on the ground in the driveway. Her family is still working on the hurricane repairs.

“It’s a slow process because a lot of people work outside of the home. So they don’t have time to take care of it like they would like to.”

And while she is able to walk around the physical damage Ian did, it’s a little harder to side-step the emotional damage.

“You get depressed,” Wood says. "And I guess that’s normal going through anything like that.”

Wood’s story is unforgettable. As the storm surge started to creep up her street, in a community off of John Morris Rd. in Iona, she and her husband made a decision.

They got in their pick-up truck with their adult son and their dogs and started driving toward the highest ground they could find.

“We just sat there all night long,” she told us in the first days after the storm. "There was nothing else we could do... I thought we were going to be washed away.”

After that interview on Fox 4, the calls started coming. The Wood family’s truck was totaled because it took on water in the storm.

But it wasn’t just their story of survival that touched people. They were really touched by the way Wood and her community were helping each other, while essentially being cut off from the rest of the world.

“I’m running water from my house to my neighbor’s house and she’s washing people’s clothes,” she said in the interview. “Everybody is helping everybody. This neighbor has a car that’s working, so he’s making sure we get to the store.”

Three weeks after the storm, Marlin Wade drove from Alabama to Iona so he could give Wood a new truck.

There were hugs and tears that day. And nearly a year later, Wood says it’s still a lifesaver.

“It certainly made life easier, because I lost my car,” she said. “We were literally stranded. It takes me to the doctor to get my treatment and to get groceries, which is most important. And so far, so good.”

Wood says she has good and bad days still, because of the storm. But she also says, that sense of hope and optimism she had right after the storm is still there.

“It’s just going to take a long time,” she says. "But we’re still working together. And we still have that hope. The Lord took care of us.”