By Grace Cassidy
More than three weeks have passed since Hurricane Ian made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane on September 28, bringing devastation to Florida, South Carolina, and Virginia. The storm claimed the lives of at least 127 Floridians alone, drove countless others from their homes and left buildings and infrastructure in ruins.
The total cost of damages is estimated to be over $67 billion in the United States. Florida is seeing $1.5 billion in damages to the agriculture industry alone. Orange groves have been destroyed, with some growers reporting nearly 50 percent of product loss overnight from Ian, according to CBS News. According to reporting from the New York Times, hundreds of displaced Floridians are still living in shelters, sleeping side-by-side on cots, unsure of what the future holds.
While the full extent of the destruction remains murky, the urgent and ongoing need for financial contributions and on-the-ground efforts is clear. For its part, Douglas Elliman has continued to call for donations to the American Red Cross, pledging to match up to $50,000. As of Friday, October 21, the campaign has raised more than $33,000.
Douglas Elliman agents in Florida are helping out, too. St. Petersburg-based agent Inbal August has been providing meals to those in need, while colleagues in her office are hosting a supply drive for cleaning supplies, with local friends, families and contractors delivering contributions to areas nearby.
Tinka Ellington, an agent based in Boca Raton, has been assisting relief efforts in Fort Myers, which suffered the brunt of the storm’s wind and flood damage.
“We found a church called Mount Pleasant, in the heart of Fort Myers where the devastation was vast,” Ellington reported. “Pastor Terry and some other folks graciously offered their grounds and the church as a gathering place and storage—we donated two truckloads on the first weekend, and by day two word had spread and many people from the area were dropping off and receiving donations.”
“It is a herculean task to rebuild Sanibel, Captiva, Fort Myers and the surrounding areas,” Ellington added. “But it’s amazing to see how much has been accomplished in a short amount of time, and how everyone is coming together to help one another.”