NewsLocal NewsLee County


Returning flights to RSW bring families back together after Hurricane Ian shutdown travel

Posted at 4:10 PM, Oct 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-06 05:13:22-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — On Wednesday, limited flights started back up again at Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) after Hurricane Ian closed its runways.

Families whose homes were robbed by Hurricane Ian, like Maureen and Craig from Fort Myers Beach (FMB), were using the re-opened runways on Wednesday to seek shelter.

“My husband has to get a hip replacement surgery which will not be able to take place now because we have no place to live down here,” said Maureen.

Maureen's husband Craig said just two days earlier, police told them they had to leave their FMB home.

“The cops actually escorted us back to our condo and said 'You got to get off,'” said Craig.

Maureen and Craig’s trip back to Connecticut meant leaving behind what’s left of their home.

An emotional time for many Southwest Florida locals from Fort Myers Beach to Sanibel Island.

“Yesterday the Mayor said it's uninhabitable," said one traveler who held back tears as she walked to the concourse.

Other travelers at RSW said Hurricane Ian created a vacation nightmare, they are ready to wake up from.

It's a different story for David and Deb Keller who live in North Fort Myers and were vacationing in Detroit when the storm made landfall.

“It's just nice to get home."

David Keller and his wife Deb said they jumped on RSW’s first returning flight since closing down to answer the call they heard, while up north in the motor city.

"You are sitting up north and your neighbors are calling ya and you are wondering okay, what can I do for them, so it's hard to sit up there and not be able to do anything,” said Keller.

I asked David Keller at RSW how quickly he wanted to get home.

"I can hardly wait to get back and get at it, ya know,” said Keller.

Deb Keller can hardly wait to help rebuild what Hurricane Ian temporarily took from them.

“We wanted to be on this flight, and not be tomorrow or the next day we wanted to get home and start helping others and see what our home is like even,” said Deb Keller.

An idea welcomed by airport staff and shown throughout the airport on signs that read, "Welcome back, we missed you."