Pine Island residents recount horror, fear as Ian bore down

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Paramedics and volunteers with a group that rescues people after natural disasters went door to door on Saturday devastated pine island in florida, Offer to evacuate residents who spoke of the horror of Hurricane Ian’s ride through flooded homes and howling winds.

The largest barrier island off the coast of Florida’s Gulf Coast, Pine Island has been largely isolated from the outside world. Ian severely damaged the only bridge to the island, leaving it only accessible by boat or air. For many, volunteers from the non-profit Medic Corps were the first to see them from off the island in days.

Residents described the horror of falling into their homes as The water continued to rise. Joe Conforte became emotional when he recounted what happened, saying that the water rose at least 8-10 feet (2.4-3 meters) and there were 4-foot (1.2 meters) waves in the streets.

Fighting back tears, he said, “Water kept pounding the house and we saw the boats and the houses—we watched everything go by.” “We’ve lost a lot at this point.”

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Helen Koch, a dog breeder, with some of her 17 dogs on a helicopter for Mediccorps.org, who arrived with two helicopters, medics and volunteers, was evacuated in the wake of Hurricane Ian in Pine Island, Florida, Saturday, October 1. , 2022.
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Conforte said that had it not been for his wife, Don Conforte, he would not have made it. “I’m starting to lose my sensitivity,” he said, “because when the water’s on your door and splashes on the door and you see how fast it’s going, there’s no way you’ll survive it.”

He said his wife made them sit on a table top to keep them from going up It was washed away by the water. He said that the next day they brought food for an old man who was living in the next building, and made sure to put him off the island on the first boat available.

“He’s lost everything,” Joe Conforte said of the man. “He said if we didn’t bring him food, he’d take his life that night because it was so bad.”

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Members of Mediccorps.org, who arrived with two helicopters, medics and volunteers, help evacuate Paul Koch and some of his dogs, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Pine Island, Florida, Saturday, October 1, 2022.

Members of Mediccorps.org, who arrived with two helicopters, medics and volunteers, help evacuate Paul Koch and some of his dogs, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Pine Island, Florida, Saturday, October 1, 2022.
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Some people shed tears MediCorps Volunteers They came to their doors and asked if they wanted to be evacuated on Saturday. Some declined the offer for the time being and asked for another day to pack. But others were eager to escape immediately.

Helen Koch sent her husband a kiss and uttered “I love you” while seated inside the Medic Corps helicopter that transported her and seven of the couple’s seven dogs to safety from the stricken island. The dogs were in cages and attached to the helicopter on the outside when they took off.

Her husband, Paul Koch, stayed with the other dogs, and planned to leave the isolated island for a second trip. He told The Associated Press that days before, he didn’t think they’d make it, as the major tornado erupted and started home take water.

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The bridge leading from Fort Myers to Pine Island, Florida, was severely damaged in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian on Saturday, October 1, 2022.

The bridge leading from Fort Myers to Pine Island, Florida, was severely damaged in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian on Saturday, October 1, 2022.
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Pine Island has long been known for its quiet little town atmosphere and mangroves. It is a popular destination for fishing, kayaking, and canoeing. Now, gloomy scenes of destruction Everywhere in this torn paradise.

Houses turned to shrapnel and boats on the roads. The island has no electricity or running water – except for a few hours on Friday when a resident said he was able to shower. A community of caravans has been destroyed.

Medic Corps volunteers went to one home to search for a woman who was known to have stayed put during the storm and has had no contact with her friends since. Inside the woman’s home, heavy furniture was brought down and her belongings were scattered. there was There is no sign of the woman This sparked fears that she was pulled out of her home by the storm.

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The bridge leading from Fort Myers to Pine Island, Florida, is seen badly damaged in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Pine Island, Florida, Saturday October 1, 2022.

The bridge leading from Fort Myers to Pine Island, Florida, is seen badly damaged in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Pine Island, Florida, Saturday October 1, 2022.
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Linda Hanshaw said the island’s close-knit community is amazing and “everyone I know who hasn’t left is trying to leave.”

But this was not true for everyone. Kathleen Russell was trying to persuade her elderly husband to leave, but he didn’t want to budge just yet. The couple continued to decline offers of eviction. The couple said they weren’t ready, but might be willing to leave on Sunday.

Claire St. Leger said she had nine people in her home, including neighbors, as the storm approached.

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“I definitely thought we were all dying,” she said. “I just sat in an inner room with pillows, crossed myself a few times, and definitely thought we were about to die. And the water kept rising.”

Medic Corps is a non-profit group of pilots, paramedics and doctors a Navy SEAL and other volunteers who respond to natural disasters and get people to safety. According to the organization’s website, it began in 2013 in response to Super Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, and in 2017 began deploying aircraft and responders in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

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