• Wed. Nov 30th, 2022


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On one side of the street, homes largely survived. On the other, Ian left a trail of destruction.

The front porch was gone. So was the outdoor furniture. And so was the roof.

It was now twisted like a big metal pretzel and resting on the driveway.

Newhall said it was only a matter of time before the local drug addicts carry it off and sell it for whatever they can get.

“It’s all scrap metal,” he said, chuckling a bit. “The junkies are going to have a field day.”

Fred Newhall outside his damaged home in Fort Myers, Fla., on Sept. 30, 2022.
Fred Newhall outside his damaged home.Tina Russell for NBC News

Surveying the wreckage, Newhall tried to put on a brave face.

“I don’t take all of this too seriously,” he said.

Nearby, 67-year-old Nancy Mattes was trying to help out her neighbors. Her trailer wasn’t damaged so she was pitching in and helping clear debris from the pathways between the rows of wrecked homes.

As Mattes worked, a 70-year-old woman who identified herself only as Mona studied the side of her trailer. It had been pried open by Ian and she could see some of what she owns inside.

“Now it’s time for cleanup,” she said.

Meanwhile, residents over at the Lazy J Mobile Home & RV Park were counting their blessings.

“We lucked out, actually,” said 18-year-old Malik Castillo as he inspected his trailer. “I thought it would be much worse, to be honest. We were blessed.”

Other than a few knocked-over plants, Castillo said they suffered no other damage.

Malkis Castillo's trailer suffered little damage.
Malik Castillo’s trailer near the Lazy J Mobile Home & RV Park suffered little damage.Tina Russell for NBC News

“I thought there was going to be flooding on the porch because when it rains hard it usually floods in there,” he said. “It’s unfortunate for other people, too, because they lost their homes.”

Don Hill, 67, said he, too, was surprised to find his trailer still in one piece. He said they’re not built to survive the kind of punishment that Hurricane Ian dished out on the other side of Ortiz Avenue.

“I feel sorry for everyone and hope they recover. You just have to have hope, keep praying and hope for the best,” he said.

What else to know about Hurricane Ian

One block over, in an area where mobile homes sit cheek by jowl with modest bungalows, 28-year-old Martin Herrera was marveling that his trailer had survived unscathed.

“I feel happy and fortunate that our house is still standing,” Herrera said.

Citlali, 15, and Martin Herrera. Unlike some other nearby residences, their home was undamaged.
Citlali, 15, and Martin Herrera. Unlike some other nearby residences, their home was undamaged.Tina Russell for NBC News
A damaged home in the Poinsettia Mobile Home Park.
A damaged home in the Poinsettia Mobile Home Park.Tina Russell for NBC News

But as he looked around, Herrera said his joy was tempered by the massive destruction all around his neighborhood.

“We’re not happy because at the end of the day, yeah, our home is still here,” he said. “But other people lost everything.”

Deon J. Hampton reported from Fort Myers and Corky Siemaszko from New York City.