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Southwest Florida residents aren't taking any chances as Ian approaches

Posted at 10:24 PM, Sep 25, 2022

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — From the keys to the big bend, people along Florida's Gulf coast aren't taking chances.

The sandpit on Estero Boulevard behind the town hall on Fort Myers Beach was busy all day Sunday as residents spent the day making multiple trips to fill their sandbags.

Though you could find a shovel, and still some sand, there were no sandbags in sight showing how people on the beach are making sure they are ready— including some season residents who just got into town to protect their home and a couple who owns one of the oldest homes on Fort Myers Beach.

When speaking with families they all said they are preparing for the worst but hoping for the best.

“We know how to shovel snow, but not much experience with this," laughed Maria Casale.

Maria Casale and her husband Ralph are snowbirds from New Jersey who also have a home on Fort Myers Beach. The couple made their way into town Saturday night— now shoveling sand instead of snow.

"We were coming to just spend a couple of weeks and relax but this is what we got" Maria laughed.

Yes, instead of a day of relaxation, the couple's day was filled with multiple trips of getting sandbags and prepping their home for a storm they have never experienced before.

“I don’t know, it sounds scary but exciting," Maria said. "We know what snowstorms are like—let’s see what this one is like."

Unlike the Casales, For David and Monica Tezak, this is not their first rodeo.

“We’ve been through Charlie, Wilma, and Irma. We are preparing for the worst but hoping for the best,” said Monica Tezak.

The Tezaks live in a beachfront home which is one of the oldest homes on Fort Myers Beach which was built back in 1928.

“It was very strong then, it survived every storm, we’re hopeful. I am more concerned about my tiki hut,” laughed David Tezak.

That's not David's only concern, he said he is also worried about the current track of the storm.

“No one wants it to hit them, everyone is like somewhere else," David said.

As Ian approaches and grows stronger, both couples are hoping for the same outcome.

“Hopefully it’s going to miss us. We’re hoping we can say we did this all for nothing,” said Ralph Casale.

“Hopefully it just keeps going up the gulf and passes us by,” Monica said.

Residents collecting sand said the town told them the pit should be refilled Monday morning.