‘There are people still struggling’: Hard hit by Ian, Sarasota Co. residents still recovering nearly 1 year later

Sarasota County in Florida faced its largest storm response in years during Hurricane Ian. The county, having learned lessons from Hurricane Irma, had over 2,200 employees working tirelessly to provide resources and transportation to those affected by the storm. While most parts of the county have moved on from the disaster, some residents in the harder hit areas are still struggling nearly one year later. Approximately 150 individuals are still living in temporary FEMA-supplied housing, and many are working through insurance agencies to repair their homes. In Harbor Cove, a community in North Port, residents are still in the process of rebuilding, with over 500 homes damaged and 120 completely lost. Patricia Lane, a resident who experienced significant damage herself, acknowledges that she is fortunate compared to those who had to leave the state and abandon their homes. The recovery process is ongoing, with estimates suggesting that it may take another year for the community to fully recover. Despite the challenges, the residents are more prepared than ever before, having acquired additional supplies and equipment to better withstand future storms.

Overview of Hurricane Ian in Sarasota County

Sarasota County experienced its largest storm response in recent history during Hurricane Ian. Lessons learned from Hurricane Irma years earlier helped county officials in their efforts to effectively respond to the storm. Throughout the storm, the county had over 2,200 employees with various responsibilities. They distributed 50,000 cases of water, 35,000 bags of ice, 40,000 meals, and 15,000 tarps, while also transporting nearly 1,000 people to hurricane evacuation centers. The total cost of Hurricane Ian for the county amounted to approximately $162 million, with debris alone accounting for around $80 million.

For most parts of the county, Hurricane Ian is now a distant memory. However, in the harder-hit areas of south county, residents are still facing daily reminders of the storm, with its one-year anniversary approaching. According to Rich Collins, the county’s Emergency Services Director, there are still around 150 people living in some type of state or FEMA-supplied housing. The recovery process is ongoing for many residents who are still working on getting repairs done on their homes and navigating through insurance agencies.

Continued Struggles for Some Residents

While the majority of the county has moved on from Hurricane Ian, there are still residents in south county who continue to face challenges. The storm’s impact is still tangible, and the recovery process is far from over for these individuals. Around 150 citizens are still living in temporary housing provided by the state or FEMA. They are struggling to get work done on their homes and are still working with insurance agencies to complete necessary repairs. The county’s Emergency Services Director, Rich Collins, acknowledges that Hurricane Ian is not over for these individuals and that they require ongoing support and assistance.

Recovery Efforts in Harbor Cove

The Harbor Cove community in North Port was heavily impacted by Hurricane Ian and is still in the process of recovering. The tight-knit community has made significant progress in rebuilding, but the work is far from complete. Over 500 homes in Harbor Cove suffered damage, with more than 120 being deemed total losses. Demolition and rebuilding efforts are still ongoing, with some homes being knocked down even a year after the storm. Three-fourths of the community was directly affected by Hurricane Ian, highlighting the significant impact it had on the area. Tom Fastiggi, the Harbor Cove Property Manager, emphasizes the resilience and determination of the community as they continue to rebuild.

Challenges Faced by Patricia Lane

One resident, Patricia Lane, experienced significant damage to her home during Hurricane Ian. She considers herself fortunate compared to others who lost everything and were forced to leave the state and abandon their homes. Lane has made repairs to her home over the past year, but the work is still not finished. She shares the emotional toll of the ongoing recovery process, mentioning the ups and downs of the journey. Lane expresses her gratitude when progress is made, but also discusses the disappointment when setbacks occur, such as delayed parts for repairs. Her story highlights the varying experiences and challenges faced by residents affected by Hurricane Ian.

Timeline for Community Recovery

While Patricia Lane and others are still in the midst of recovering from Hurricane Ian, the community as a whole continues to make progress. Fastiggi believes that it will take another year for the Harbor Cove community to fully return to normal. However, he assures that they are now more prepared than ever for any future storms that may hit the area. The community has acquired two new diesel generators, as well as stockpiled sandbags, tarps, ropes, and other storm-related supplies. Their readiness enables them to respond quickly and effectively in the face of future storms. The timeline for full recovery is estimated based on the ongoing efforts and preparedness of the community.

In conclusion, Hurricane Ian had a significant impact on Sarasota County, particularly in south county areas like Harbor Cove. The storm response was the largest in recent history, and valuable lessons from prior hurricanes helped officials in their efforts. While most parts of the county have moved on from the storm, some residents continue to face ongoing challenges, including the struggle to complete necessary repairs and navigate insurance processes. The Harbor Cove community is steadily recovering, but the rebuilding process is still in progress. Patricia Lane’s personal experience highlights the emotional toll and varying experiences faced by individuals affected by the storm. The community remains resilient and committed to full recovery, with enhanced preparedness for future storms.