Southwest Florida was struck by Category Four Hurricane Ian on Sept. 28. Alongside the hardest hit cities of Fort Myers, Cape Coral and Sanibel Island, the city of Naples has faced notable damages.
The streets of Naples were ground zero for fallen trees, debris from buildings and broken facilities. In the weeks following landfall, Collier County sought to replenish the lost resources. Efforts to clean up and restore the city have been put into effect by local leaders.
“The city of Naples is working hard to clean up the streets of all the debris,” Mayor Teresa Heitmann said.
Many people saw their houses get destroyed by the hurricane. The record-setting storm surge broke down residence areas close to the coast, forcing families to evacuate and leave their belongings behind. Relief plans have been helping to establish the housing and communal areas in a campaign to regain the normalcy families saw before the hurricane.
“Finding temporary and permanent shelter for the community is a priority,” Heitmann said. “We are working with a county/city contractor to assist in making our streets beautiful.”
Throughout the city, different groups of people have come together to assist in bringing Naples back to its pre-hurricane state.
“The churches, volunteers, council members, city employees and so many in the community have come together in such a beautiful way to help one another,” Heitmann said. “People are helping one another tear out drywall, carry heavy items to the curb, shovel mud out of stranger’s garages, deliver hot meals and so much more.”
Naples High School has also contributed to Hurricane Ian relief, aiding the citizens of this community and school.
“In response to Hurricane Ian, our school community has worked to assess student and family needs through personal connections and conversations, needs assessment surveys and student interviews with our counseling department,” Principal Kristina Lee said. “We have been working to gather resources, [like] backpacks with supplies, computers, shoes, gift cards, etc., as well as providing helpful information on the resources available throughout Collier County to all families in need.”
Hurricane Ian took a massive toll on the Naples community. As the city comes together to rebuild and repair, it will not be a quick process. It appears that it will take months for everything to get back to where it was before the hurricane hit.
“These recovery efforts will continue for months to come and we could not do it without the efforts of our community,” Heitmann said.