NewsLocal NewsLee County


Search and rescue crews are using waterways to comb through disaster

Search and Rescue FMB
Posted at 3:14 PM, Oct 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-06 19:40:26-04

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — On Thursday, Florida Task Force 2 went from searching for survivors on land to launching crews into the water on Fort Myers Beach.

Florida Task Force 2 Leader, Captain Ignatius Carroll, says his crews are working to provide hope or closure for loved ones who were on the island during Hurricane Ian.

Some days are harder than others.

"Throughout this time we have identified some folks that rode the storm out that did not survive,” said Carroll.

On Thursday, Fox 4 saw firsthand as crews from Florida Task Force 2 began a new initiative when it comes to search and rescue efforts.

“Now what we are doing is making an effort to get along the waterways cause we have seen that several homes have been actually washed into the inlet,” said Carroll.

Across that inlet, homeowner David Bower was seen standing tall.

“We are still standing,” said Bower.

The front of Bower's house looks like nothing happened, but the backside of his home was battered and beaten by Hurricane Ian.

“The building on the back was the hotel around the corner it just unstrapped itself, lifted itself, and moved into the backyard,” said Carroll.

The place David has called home for the past 7 years, surviving by a matter of inches.

“You walk upstairs and the upstairs is perfect we got about 12 ½ feet of water and we are at 13 feet," Bower said he evacuated with his wife before the storm.

A week later, he’s working to fix his home, as rescue crews work around his property.

“I was a dredging contractor for 10 years. I did search and rescue stuff in Hurricane Andrew, lived through all of that, sunk all of my equipment into the bottom of the canal to keep it safe..and I have never seen anything like this,” said Bower.

It's a sight, scattered with memories and belongings from those who called the island home and pushed Carroll's crews, to keep going.

“We are going to continue search and rescue operations until the locals feel we have done all that we can or we report it back to them that we have searched and there is nothing else we can do or find,” said Carroll.

On Thursday, people like David Bower found hope for a brighter future through the rubble.

“It's going to be a while, but I think we are going to be better, I think we are going to be strong,” said Bower.