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WRTV reporter sent to help sister Scripps station in Fort Myers

Posted at 7:34 PM, Oct 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-05 19:34:38-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Hurricane Ian is life-changing for many Floridians.

"It was surreal to see the damage in Fort Myers, Naples and surrounding areas. The storm surge was so intense, I could see right through several homes," WRTV reporter Rachael Wilkerson said.

Homes that families poured their hearts and souls into. Pictures, baby clothes, children's toys, mattresses, couches and more were thrown into people's front yards. Boats were in trees and cars were floating down the streets.

It was a scene residents say they weren't prepared for.

Lee County residents were told to evacuate less than 24 hours before Hurricane Ian made landfall.

While around 4,000 people rushed to shelters, many tried to ride out the storm.

"They were devastated as they watched their communities be forever changed," Wilkerson said.

"It's very sad. We lost everything. We lost food, the shed, TVs, everything inside. We have no help. The water level went up to 5 feet inside of the house," Dago Verto-Flores said.

"It's emotional because this is my home, and this is everyone else's home and just seeing the faces of people that have been coming to the first floor, my neighbors and walking into their condos and seeing the damage it's hard," Katie Hermling said.

Several residents lost everything.

Many told Wilkerson Hurricane Ian is the worst hurricane they've ever lived through.

"It was heartbreaking. Many thought the eye of the storm was headed towards Tampa and it quickly shifted towards Fort Myers," Wilkerson said.

I could feel the powerful wind as the storm made landfall. I could see videos of the storm surge being sent in from residents and there was a sense of fear for many of them.

Hours later, going into the communities and seeing the damage left behind is something I won't forget.

Residents were emotional but there were sticking together, and that togetherness is what they say is helping them get through it," said Wilkerson.

You can help people impacted by Hurricane Ian.

WRTV's parent company, the EW Scripps Company, has set up a hurricane relief fund through our charitable organization, the Scripps Howard Fund. 

To donate, you can text the word "storm" to 5-0-1-5-5 and follow the prompts.