In a Florida trailer park, survivors speak out about Ian’s anger

NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — When Ian’s winds swept through this Gulf Coast trailer park, they howled with such force that residents felt like they would be lifted off the ground, even carried away.

Today, many homes in this North Fort Myers community are crumpled and broken. Hurricane Ian pulled, twisted and bent their metal roofs and shattered their wooden structures.

“I literally watched my house disappear with everything in it, right before my eyes,” said 62-year-old James Burdette. “I saw things start to fly, part of the roof collapsed, the rest of the roof collapsed, the in.”

Burdette sat in a brown leather chair on Thursday, the debris of what was once his living room strewn everywhere. Along with the chair, a remote control was still intact.

A carpenter by trade, Burdette moved from Virginia to Florida five years ago.

He said his original plan for Ian was to stay home and ride out the storm. But the winds were too strong, and at one point, as they roared, he felt his house being lifted off the ground – a few centimeters (inches) and then crashing down hard.

“I stayed here as long as I could until I got scared for my life and ran across the street,” Burdette said. He compared his escape to the children’s tale of The Three Little Pigs – running as if from a house made of sticks.

A garden statue of Jesus blown over by the wind. Burdette struggled to lift it up and put it back in its original place.

“It’s heavy,” he said.

Now he and his wife don’t know what they’ll do next. They have no plan for where to go.

Burdette said he felt angry for everything that happened. Still, he added, he had seen himself as a good-natured person who helped his neighbours, mowed the lawn of a nearby elderly lady and helped improve their properties.

“I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like watching other people struggle,” he said.

“I’m questioning my faith, which may not be true, but neither is it,” he said of the damage Ian suffered.

At another nearby farm, Eduardo David, 68, was clearing debris that had accumulated from the storm against the front of his house. David also weathered the storm at home after finding himself unable to find flights to Chicago, where he has family.

He said he was boarding up windows from inside even as the storm brewed. The winds kept hitting the sliding doors and derailing the windows.

“It was high winds. The house was shaking,” David said.

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