As we drove towards Fort Myers, the first thing that caught my eye was the traffic.
We were one of thousands of cars trying to get into the worst affected area Hurricane Ian.
Queues started on the other side of the state. A row of cars, stuffed with bedding, some hooked up to generators, some pulling paddle boats, all head back inside, to see what’s left.Read:“Everyone was looking”: Woman’s face doubles in size after serious sun poisoning
The closer we got, the greater the despair.
In Fort Myers, winding cars swept the palm-lined streets, queuing for a gas station without gas. People stood waiting with sheets of water, some since the early hours of the morning.
There is devastation here: concrete pillars upended, boats piled on the shore, but stars and stripes still fly – albeit flags torn in half.
Most noticeable is the logistical challenge. Basic operations have been crashed to a halt.
The two-hour drive up the coast took six hours last night, through flooded back roads, passing abandoned cars and emergency vehicles evacuating patients from hospitals without power.
Drivers were ignoring road signs — even the roads themselves — in the frantic overnight scramble to change the lane of a run-off highway.Read:Simple blood test can diagnose pregnant women with postnatal depression BEFORE they give birth
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The storms have moved north, but they’re not over yet for the residents of southwest Florida. The rivers are swollen. The areas that need it most are being cut in new ways as the waters rise.
Now communities are taking rescue efforts into their own hands. We saw an old man and his dog rescued from a waist-high flood in his house. rescue men? his neighbours, who brought a boat to see the extent of the damage to their house. The family heard him banging on his door and screaming for help.Read:Man survives Florida alligator attack by ‘grabbing its teeth, tongue and snout’ as video shows terrifying episode | US News
Escorts of state soldiers clear the way for water tankers, heading to hospitals and emergency water distribution centers. While 1.5 million homes and businesses are still without electricity.
There is talk of billions of dollars in damage, of years of rebuilding homes and ports. But for now, the focus of those here is on getting the essentials back.