(WKBN) — Members of the Valley’s special forces have been in Fort Myers since Thursday, combining efforts for Hurricane Ian rescue missions.
Other members of the Valley experienced the hurricane firsthand.
Over the last three days, firefighters from Calcutta, Liverpool Township and Milton Township performed around 95 search missions in Florida, rescuing 26 people so far.
Calcutta Volunteer Fire Lieutenant Randy Schneider said they’re still doing searches and air evacuations. Those they’ve rescued are shocked they came from Ohio to help.
“We still have to go into a lot of these high rises and try to get some of these people that are still stuck in there out as some stair wells have been compromised from flooding,” Schneider said.
Tom Phibbs is a Hubbard native. His family relocated to Sarasota a year and a half ago.
We spoke to him earlier this week as his family prepared for the hurricane. For days after, he was without electricity and running water. On Sunday, he ate his first hot meal in three days.
“It was just fantastic to be able to sit down and feel a bit of normalcy,” Phibbs said.
The strong winds knocked down a 50-foot oak tree into Phibbs’ pool.
“You would look outside, you would see leaves from, you know — up, down, left, right. Kind of like in the cartoons, you know. You used to see the tumbleweeds going down the street — while we had tree branches,” Phibbs said.
Maryanne Clark is from Girard and moved to Bonita Springs in 2021. She said the winds were powerful.
“In our backyard, we’re on a lake. The lake looked like the ocean, it had huge waves,” Clark said.
“The hard plastic signs on McDonalds or places like that, they just got blown through like tissue paper, just completely shattered by the wind. The billboards are twisted, stop signs are laid flat,” Phibbs said.
Clark said resources are scarce.
“Gas stations, cars are 20-deep — if you can find a gas station with gas. Grocery stores? No perishables,” Clark said.
Linda Cope and her husband are from Columbiana but live on Pine Island. They’ve been able to charge their phones and use from electricity through satellite trucks deployed on the island.
She said the community gathers every night to cook together. Phibbs said seeing everyone come together and help each other has been encouraging.
“They’re cleaning up their yards and they’re lending a hand to neighbors, and the beauty to me was watching people persevere,” Phibbs said.