‘Nightmare’ in Naples: Ian’s storm surge goes over dunes, drags cars, gets into homes

Family shows how high storm surge destroyed their yards and damaged their cars and home in Naples.

NAPLES, Fla. – James Spinuzza was overwhelmed on Thursday morning. He found sand, fish, and mud inside his garage and home after Hurricane Ian made landfall north of his home in Naples.

The powerful storm surge rolled over the dunes pushing garbage, seaweed, debris, and a sports utility vehicle into a corner in his yard. Someone could have drowned, but they evacuated.

The water also pushed through his home, which is in the third lot from the beach. It knocked over his stuff in the garage and damaged his counters and furniture inside.

“We are just in our own personal nightmare,” Spinuzza said.

He and his family were not alone. Ian’s storm surge damaged residential and commercial property in Lee and Collier counties. State officials reported there were at least seven hurricane-related deaths.

Local officials reported the hurricane’s 20-foot waves from the Gulf of Mexico destroyed the historic Naples Pier. The Naples Airport remained closed to the public.

Without working traffic lights, police officers asked drivers to treat intersections as four-way stop signs. The storm’s destruction disrupted communications, electricity, water supply, and other services.

Workers were setting up temporary cell phone towers and crews were working to restore power in the area. Naples remains under a citywide 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew.


  • The water division issued a boil-water order.
  • The public utility department asked residents to keep storm debris separate from regular household garbage.
  • The sheriff’s office reported the inability to respond to every 911 call will improve due to mutual aid units. Deputies prioritized life-threatening medical emergencies in deep water.
  • The Collier Community Foundation, a nonprofit organization, was asking for donations.

This is a developing story.

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More reports from Naples

Mother holding her toddler says staying near the beach on second-floor apartment as storm surge took over her neighborhood was "horrible." She shares videos.
Authorities are asking Naples residents to wait to return to their homes after storm surge cause property damage all over the area.
Hurricane Ian's aftermath in Lee and Collier counties means flooded streets, shopping only with cash, dangerous electric poles and finding boats stuck in unlikely areas.

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About the Authors:

Andrew Perez is a South Florida native who joined the Local 10 News team in May 2014.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.