As search goes on, Floridians await OK to survey Ian’s wrath

Oct 6, 2022, 11:34 PM | Updated: Oct 7, 2022, 4:15 pm
Shrimp boat workers pass the time alongside piles of clothes and shoes donated to help the many mem...

Shrimp boat workers pass the time alongside piles of clothes and shoes donated to help the many members of the community who lost everything, following the passage of Hurricane Ian, at Erickson & Jensen Seafood on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. After the storm, many in the local shrimp industry find themselves not only out of work, but also left homeless, with most of the boats where they lived aboard left stranded on dry ground or heavily damaged.(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

              Shrimp boat workers pass the time alongside piles of clothes and shoes donated to help the many members of the community who lost everything, following the passage of Hurricane Ian, at Erickson & Jensen Seafood on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. After the storm, many in the local shrimp industry find themselves not only out of work, but also left homeless, with most of the boats where they lived aboard left stranded on dry ground or heavily damaged.(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              David Newcomb, who had worked as an assistant on the docks at Erickson & Jensen Seafood but now says he will return to Texas, sits in front of piles of clothing donated to help those in the shrimping community who lost everything, on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. After the storm, many in the local shrimp industry find themselves not only out of work, but also left homeless, with most of the boats where they lived aboard left stranded on dry ground or heavily damaged.(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              Fishing rods recovered by a small commercial fisherman whose two boats were destroyed in the passage of Hurricane Ian, sit on a wharf in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              Members of the boating community help each other out by ferrying supplies include water and fuel, following the passage of Hurricane Ian, on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              Shrimp boat worker Michael Etwaru of Guyana is seen through the propeller of a grounded boat, following the passage of Hurricane Ian, on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              In this photo shot with a drone, shrimp boats lie grounded atop what was a mobile home park, following the passage of Hurricane Ian, on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              In this photo shot with a drone, a group of shrimp boats is left grounded following the passage of Hurricane Ian, on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              Michele Bryant, a shrimp boat third man who sprained her ankle climbing down from her boat over debris following the passage of Hurricane Ian, folds clothes donated to help the many members of the shrimper community who lost everything, following the passage of Hurricane Ian, at Erickson & Jensen Seafood on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. After the storm, many in the local shrimp industry, including Bryant, find themselves not only out of work, but also left homeless, with the boats where they lived aboard left stranded on dry ground or heavily damaged.(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              Shrimp boat workers pass the time alongside piles of clothes and shoes donated to help the many members of the community who lost everything, following the passage of Hurricane Ian, at Erickson & Jensen Seafood on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. After the storm, many in the local shrimp industry find themselves not only out of work, but also left homeless, with most of the boats where they lived aboard left stranded on dry ground or heavily damaged.(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              David Newcomb, who had worked as an assistant on the docks at Erickson & Jensen Seafood but now says he will return to Texas, sits in front of piles of clothing donated to help those in the shrimping community who lost everything, on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. After the storm, many in the local shrimp industry find themselves not only out of work, but also left homeless, with most of the boats where they lived aboard left stranded on dry ground or heavily damaged.(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              Fishing rods recovered by a small commercial fisherman whose two boats were destroyed in the passage of Hurricane Ian, sit on a wharf in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              Members of the boating community help each other out by ferrying supplies include water and fuel, following the passage of Hurricane Ian, on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              Shrimp boat worker Michael Etwaru of Guyana is seen through the propeller of a grounded boat, following the passage of Hurricane Ian, on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              In this photo shot with a drone, shrimp boats lie grounded atop what was a mobile home park, following the passage of Hurricane Ian, on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              In this photo shot with a drone, a group of shrimp boats is left grounded following the passage of Hurricane Ian, on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              Michele Bryant, a shrimp boat third man who sprained her ankle climbing down from her boat over debris following the passage of Hurricane Ian, folds clothes donated to help the many members of the shrimper community who lost everything, following the passage of Hurricane Ian, at Erickson & Jensen Seafood on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. After the storm, many in the local shrimp industry, including Bryant, find themselves not only out of work, but also left homeless, with the boats where they lived aboard left stranded on dry ground or heavily damaged.(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              Shrimp boat workers pass the time alongside piles of clothes and shoes donated to help the many members of the community who lost everything, following the passage of Hurricane Ian, at Erickson & Jensen Seafood on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. After the storm, many in the local shrimp industry find themselves not only out of work, but also left homeless, with most of the boats where they lived aboard left stranded on dry ground or heavily damaged.(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              David Newcomb, who had worked as an assistant on the docks at Erickson & Jensen Seafood but now says he will return to Texas, sits in front of piles of clothing donated to help those in the shrimping community who lost everything, on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. After the storm, many in the local shrimp industry find themselves not only out of work, but also left homeless, with most of the boats where they lived aboard left stranded on dry ground or heavily damaged.(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              Fishing rods recovered by a small commercial fisherman whose two boats were destroyed in the passage of Hurricane Ian, sit on a wharf in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              Members of the boating community help each other out by ferrying supplies include water and fuel, following the passage of Hurricane Ian, on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              Shrimp boat worker Michael Etwaru of Guyana is seen through the propeller of a grounded boat, following the passage of Hurricane Ian, on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              In this photo shot with a drone, shrimp boats lie grounded atop what was a mobile home park, following the passage of Hurricane Ian, on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              In this photo shot with a drone, a group of shrimp boats is left grounded following the passage of Hurricane Ian, on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              Michele Bryant, a shrimp boat third man who sprained her ankle climbing down from her boat over debris following the passage of Hurricane Ian, folds clothes donated to help the many members of the shrimper community who lost everything, following the passage of Hurricane Ian, at Erickson & Jensen Seafood on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. After the storm, many in the local shrimp industry, including Bryant, find themselves not only out of work, but also left homeless, with the boats where they lived aboard left stranded on dry ground or heavily damaged.(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              Shrimp boat workers pass the time alongside piles of clothes and shoes donated to help the many members of the community who lost everything, following the passage of Hurricane Ian, at Erickson & Jensen Seafood on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. After the storm, many in the local shrimp industry find themselves not only out of work, but also left homeless, with most of the boats where they lived aboard left stranded on dry ground or heavily damaged.(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              David Newcomb, who had worked as an assistant on the docks at Erickson & Jensen Seafood but now says he will return to Texas, sits in front of piles of clothing donated to help those in the shrimping community who lost everything, on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. After the storm, many in the local shrimp industry find themselves not only out of work, but also left homeless, with most of the boats where they lived aboard left stranded on dry ground or heavily damaged.(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              Fishing rods recovered by a small commercial fisherman whose two boats were destroyed in the passage of Hurricane Ian, sit on a wharf in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              Members of the boating community help each other out by ferrying supplies include water and fuel, following the passage of Hurricane Ian, on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              Shrimp boat worker Michael Etwaru of Guyana is seen through the propeller of a grounded boat, following the passage of Hurricane Ian, on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              In this photo shot with a drone, shrimp boats lie grounded atop what was a mobile home park, following the passage of Hurricane Ian, on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              In this photo shot with a drone, a group of shrimp boats is left grounded following the passage of Hurricane Ian, on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              Michele Bryant, a shrimp boat third man who sprained her ankle climbing down from her boat over debris following the passage of Hurricane Ian, folds clothes donated to help the many members of the shrimper community who lost everything, following the passage of Hurricane Ian, at Erickson & Jensen Seafood on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. After the storm, many in the local shrimp industry, including Bryant, find themselves not only out of work, but also left homeless, with the boats where they lived aboard left stranded on dry ground or heavily damaged.(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              Michael Etwaru scrapes barnacles from the hull of a boat, as workers find a silver lining to the grounding caused by Hurricane Ian, on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              Fishing rods and gear recovered by a small commercial fisherman whose two boats were destroyed in the passage of Hurricane Ian, sit on a wharf in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              Crew work together to prepare two less damaged shrimp boats to get back out on the water quickly, after most of the fleet at Erickson & Jensen Seafood was grounded or heavily damaged by the passage of Hurricane Ian, on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              Shrimp boat workers Shawn Shelton, left, and Doug Fundak relax next to the tent where they are living since the boat they worked on was grounded and Shelton's trailer was destroyed, at Erickson & Jensen Seafood on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. The pair, along with Shelton's dog Lucky, rode the storm out on "Night Wind," as surge waters and wind carried it onshore and then into an apartment building. After the storm, many in the local shrimp industry find themselves not only out of work, but also homeless, with most of the boats where they lived aboard left stranded on dry ground or heavily damaged.(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              Lorie Longi, 54, climbs through the window of what had been her second story apartment, now resting on the ground, as she tries to salvage water-soaked belongings from inside following the passage of Hurricane Ian, on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              Lorie Longi, 54, left, looks on as her boyfriend climbs through the window of what was her second story apartment, as they try to salvage water-soaked belongings from inside following the passage of Hurricane Ian, on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              Michael Etwaru walks underneath two grounded shrimp boats, which relocated to Fort Myers Beach last year from Guyana along with their crews, as workers take advantage of the grounding to scrape barnacles from the boats' hulls, following the passage of Hurricane Ian, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              Snowbird William Wellema, who would spend six months a year at his trailer in Red Coconut mobile home park on Estero Island, tears up as he talks about his frustration at not being allowed on to the island to survey what remains of his trailer and recover whatever he can, after Hurricane Ian, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. Wellema drove from New Jersey after the storm, but arrived to find the access bridge closed to all but emergency personnel. After four days living out of his car, he’s considering crossing by kayak at night. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              The "Night Wind" lies grounded against the second story of an apartment building, now missing its first story,on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. Boat crew Shawn Shelton and Doug Fundak, along with Shelton's dog Lucky, rode the storm out on "Night Wind," as surge waters and wind carried it onshore and then into the apartment building. After the storm, many in the local shrimp industry find themselves not only out of work, but also homeless, with most of the boats where they lived aboard left stranded on dry ground or heavily damaged.(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              Snowbird William Wellema talks about his frustration at not being allowed on to the island to survey what remains of his trailer and recover whatever he can, following the passage of Hurricane Ian, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. Wellema drove down from New Jersey after the storm, but arrived to find the access bridge closed to all but emergency personnel. After four days living out of his car, he is considering crossing by kayak at night. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
            
              FILE - In a flight provided by mediccorps.org, debris from Hurricane Ian covers Estero Island in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Sept. 30, 2022. Hurricane Ian confounded one key computer forecast model, creating challenges for forecasters and Florida residents. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. (AP) — William Wellema has been living under a bridge for four days, waiting to get to Fort Myers Beach on Florida’s Estero Island to see if his vacation home survived Hurricane Ian. On Friday, he was beyond frustrated as he continued to await permission to drive across.

“They’re saying it’s because of the rescue and recovery efforts,” Wellema said of the closure. He drove down from Little Falls, New Jersey, with a pass he got at the beginning of hurricane season that was supposed to allow him onto the island after a storm.

Wellema was considering crossing by kayak at night. He is in touch with friends in other parts of the country waiting on his word to make their own journeys south. Their wait is a reminder that the death toll, already at 103, could still grow.

Fort Myers Beach Mayor Ray Murphy has said no one will be allowed back until emergency services crews finish “searching for people who are hurt or might need help amongst the rubble, and people who have passed” in the town of just over 7,000. First responders need space and time to do their job and “any extra vehicle and pedestrian traffic hampers and prolongs their efforts,” the statement said. They have not set a date for when residents can return.

The Florida Medical Examiners Commission has reported 94 storm-related deaths in Florida so far. Most were in the worst-hit Lee County that includes the greater Fort Myers area and nearby Gulf Coast islands. At least half of the confirmed victims in the state were 65 years and older and more than two-thirds were 50 and older. Five people were also killed in North Carolina, three in Cuba and one in Virginia.

Ian is the third-deadliest storm to hit the mainland United States in the 21st century, behind Hurricane Katrina, which left about 1,400 people dead, and Hurricane Sandy, which had a total death count of 233 despite weakening to a tropical storm just before making U.S. landfall. The deadliest hurricane to ever hit the U.S. was the Great Galveston Hurricane in 1900 that killed as many as 8,000 people.

Ian, a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 150 miles per hour (240 kilometers per hour), unleashed torrents of rain and caused extensive flooding and damage. The deluge turned streets into gushing rivers. Backyard waterways overflowed into neighborhoods, sometimes by more than a dozen feet (3.5 meters), tossing boats onto yards and roadways. Beaches disappeared, as ocean surges pushed shorelines far inland. Officials estimate the storm has caused billions of dollars in damage.

Fort Myers Beach residents James Berry and Jeff Silcock, like Wellema, have access passes to the island and were also waiting under the bridge to get back home, but neither was as upset as Wellema.

“They’re still looking for bodies out there and there’s an investigation process,” said Silcock. “I totally understand why they’re not letting anyone on.”

Betty Parker and her husband, Wiley, live in Fort Myers, but they’re about 20 miles (32 kilometers) inland. Their neighborhood on the Caloosahatchee River was built in 1915 and had never flooded until now, Parker said.

“Quite a few of the houses around us were declared a total loss,” she said Friday. “Most the people I’ve talked to, the neighbors, don’t have flood insurance because it is too expensive, and it has never flooded here in over 100 years.”

The Parkers were lucky. The water came within 5 inches (13 centimeters) of their house, but not inside, she said. However, it did flood their garage, where they had moved their 2000 Toyota MR2 sports car.

“So many people lost their cars,” Parker said. “They moved them inside because they were worried about wind. Nobody thought about the water.”

___

Associated Press writer Travis Loller in Nashville, Tennessee, contributed to this report.

___

For more coverage of Hurricane Ian, go to: https://apnews.com/hub/hurricanes

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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As search goes on, Floridians await OK to survey Ian’s wrath