Disaster Relief Ministry sees Devastation from Hurricane Ian

On October 22, POJ’s Disaster Relief Ministry set out for Little Gasparilla Island, a barrier island on the Gulf Coast of Florida near Fort Myers. The community suffered heavy damage from Hurricane Ian on September 28. It was the first Category 4 hurricane to impact Southwest Florida since 2004.

After 16 hours on the road, the 13-member team at the marina to meet a fishing boat that would take them and their supplies to the island.

Little Gasparilla Island has no roads, bridges, or ferries connecting it to the mainland. Private boat or water taxi are the only options to reach the island. There are no stores, businesses, or offices.

The approximately 500 homes on the island are connected by golf cart paths and walking trails. Many of these cottages constitute the retirement investment of their owners. Being on the gulf coast, and not the Atlantic, most figured they were safe not paying for full insurance coverage and were caught by surprise when hurricane Ian hit them with wind gusts over 200 mph.

The ferocious wind blew in the soffits, across the attic, and out the other side, soaking insulation and drywall.

The Disaster Relief team took on three homes to repair. They removed wet insulation and drywall, treated for mold, replaced the drywall with new, and readied the walls and ceilings for paint.

In the home being overhauled by Wade Palmore, from Genito Presbyterian, and his team, the group also replaced a rotted window frame.

Ken Brammer, from Southminster Presbyterian, and his team hung drywall in the fireman’s house and learned how to apply drywall finish.

Spokes of Hope, a disaster relief charity from South Carolina, provided tools, materials and food for our team.

Despite some bumps, bruises, and sore muscles, the team looked at their achievements with pride, knowing they had helped move the island forward a bit towards recovery. They return in January to provide additional aid.

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