Hurricane Ian destroys homes, businesses in Matlacha

Sanibel, Fla. – Residents of Matlacha, located about 13 minutes from Sanibel, are trying to pick up the pieces on Friday after Hurricane Ian ripped through their entire community.

What once was a beautiful island town, vacation destination for many is now ground zero, and residents like Mike Shevlin said it’s hard to compare the damage to any previous hurricane.

“I’ve never seen it like this it looks like a bomb went off,” said Shevlin. “55 years of watching hurricanes come through this area--nothing like this.”

Matlacha residents Kim and Todd McDonough say they lost everything because of the storm after their home was wiped away.

“It went fright through Bert’s bar and it’s behind Bert’s bar in the water,” said Todd McDonough.

Authorities said the only way to rescue the people living there is through air or boat.

The U.S Coast Guard announced that they are taking out combat crafts to search for the people that are still stranded.

According to Kim McDonough. their friends Kaci and Cher are still missing and haven’t been heard from since before the storm.

Lee County Sherriff Carmine Marceno told Local 10 that they have been rescuing trapped victims by the hundreds and they are hoping that number continues to grow.

“I know that we’ve rescued over 600 people that number is going to grow, and then it’s of course a more extensive search and each of those take a lot of time,” said Marceno.

As this community starts the rebuilding process there is still a lot of work to do.

Officials want to remind people who maybe want to come out here and help that the best thing you can do is stay put.

It is still a very dangerous situation with downed power lines and debris all over the road.

According to authorities, the best thing to do is make sure you are doing your research and donating monetarily to these verifiable charitable sites.

About the Authors:

A South Florida native, Andrea Martinez joined the Local 10 News team as a reporter in April 2021.

Ryan Mackey is our newest digital journalist at WPLG. He is New York born and South Florida raised.