Florida woman reveals devastating toll of Hurricane Ian on her community as homes are wiped out

Florida small business owner Alexandra Fasulo seeks asylum for her Pine Island and Matlacha neighbors after Hurricane Ian unexpectedly left her community in ruins with almost nothing left.

Fasulo, dubbed as The Freelance Fairy on Instagramhas lived on the tiny island of Matlacha off the state’s coast since the spring of 2021, but some of her neighbors she passed while on daily walks have lived there for 35 years or more.

Damp furniture and moldy clothes were all that remained after near-Category 5 Hurricane Ian hit the community on Sept. 28 — leaving more than 125 in the state dead.

“We were not told it would land in Matlacha,” Fasulo told DailyMail.com. ‘Some people I’ve passed on my walks and runs have died.’

The once vibrant city with exotic and bright colors that shaped the city was left devastated with debris littering the area where the houses once sat.

Residents were able to return to the island more than a week after the horrific hurricane hit.

The bridge that connected the mainland to the island was torn down, and local fishermen volunteered their time and boats to help residents gather what was left of their belongings as they said goodbye to the remains of their homes, while the uncertainty continued.

“I cried a lot,” Fasulo recalled, seeing her community for the first time after the storm and the fishermen helping her neighbors.

After grabbing three trash bags of items from his home that weren’t covered in mold, Fasulo decided to use his influencer status to help his community rebuild their lives.

Florida small online business owner Alexandra Fasulo seeks help for her Pine Island and Matlacha neighbors after Hurricane Ian devastated the community

Florida small online business owner Alexandra Fasulo seeks help for her Pine Island and Matlacha neighbors after Hurricane Ian devastated the community

The once vibrant city with exotic and bright colors that shaped the city was left devastated with debris littering the area where the houses once sat.

The once vibrant city with exotic and bright colors that shaped the city was left devastated with debris littering the area where the houses once sat.

Fasulo returned to his home days after the hurricane with the help of a local fisherman after the main road to Matlacha and Pine Island was in ruins

Fasulo returned to his home days after the hurricane with the help of a local fisherman after the main road to Matlacha and Pine Island was in ruins

Fasulo left his home before Hurricane Ian hit Matlacha Island last month.  The community did not expect the hurricane to hit there

Fasulo left his home before Hurricane Ian hit Matlacha Island last month. The community did not expect the hurricane to hit there

Pictures Fasulo took while back on the island were of destroyed homes, some toppled after the near Category 5 hurricane

Pictures Fasulo took while back on the island were of destroyed homes, some toppled after the near Category 5 hurricane

The colorful community was left in ruins after the horrific storm.  Some people died on the island after staying while the storm played out

The colorful community was left in ruins after the horrific storm. Some people died on the island after staying while the storm played out

Some homes were seen completely overturned when the residential doors were laid flat

Some homes were seen completely overturned when the residential doors were laid flat

Remnants of homes were thrown around the street, including tree branches

Remnants of homes were thrown around the street, including tree branches

Some islanders rushed to collect what was left of their belongings

Some islanders rushed to collect what was left of their belongings

Local fishermen sought to help island residents get to their homes after the island's main road was demolished during the storm

Local fishermen sought to help island residents get to their homes after the island’s main road was demolished during the storm

Local shops and restaurants were found in rubble, while some houses were left standing

Local shops and restaurants were found in rubble, while some houses were left standing

Restaurants and shops with nothing left were seen 'swept into the sea'

Restaurants and shops with nothing left were seen ‘swept into the sea’

Tents were set up across the city as first responders assisted residents and searched for survivors

Tents were set up across the city as first responders assisted residents and searched for survivors

Houses were seen swept out into the street.  A person is seen above walking through the ruins

Houses were seen swept out into the street. A person is seen above walking through the ruins

One house is pictured still standing, while others did not share the same fate

One house is pictured still standing, while others did not share the same fate

Matlacha and Pine Island remain without power along with 16,233 others along Florida's west coast

Matlacha and Pine Island remain without power along with 16,233 others along Florida’s west coast

A majority of Hurricane Ian’s victims are in Florida, as the tropical storm was the third-deadliest to hit the mainland and the largest to hit Southwest Florida, with winds reaching 150 mph.

Research indicated that between a third and a half of people who live through a disaster will develop either post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety, according to the AP.

Fasulo recalled the trauma seeping in as she fled with a handful of others to charge her phone after the hurricane at one of the only stops with power, the Millennial Brewing Company in Fort Myers.

“It looked like a scene from a movie with people with holes in their clothes charging their phones and staring at the wall,” she said.

Some of Fasulo’s neighbors decided to stay home when the hurricane made landfall in Florida. The community did not anticipate the extent of the devastating storm that unexpectedly hit Matlacha.

The residents only grabbed enough to fit what they could in an overnight bag as they expected to return to their cozy, tight-knit community the next day. Fasulo spent the night of the hurricane in Cape Coral with family.

Little did the residents know that they would return to homes either completely demolished or without roofs, as mold would also have infiltrated the remains of their goods when they returned a few days later.

“There were layers of sludge,” Fasulo said as he described what was left of her home.

Fasulo witnessed her neighbors throw their furniture into their yards as they figured out what was salvageable and what wasn’t.

“If I can go back in time, I would grab all my books,” she said.

Matlacha and Pine Island remain without power along with 16,233 others along Florida’s west coast.

The uncertainty of what will happen to the community is uncertain as local officials tread uncharted territory.

Houses were seen sinking under the water

Houses were seen sinking under the water

A former restaurant was partially demolished, while the other half remained

A former restaurant was partially demolished, while the other half remained

Many locals pitched in to help each other through the difficult time

Many locals pitched in to help each other through the difficult time

Fasulo returned to her home but was only able to grab about three garbage bags filled with her belongings

Fasulo returned to her home but was only able to grab about three garbage bags filled with her belongings

Mold soon covered a majority of books and other household products

Mold soon covered a majority of books and other household products

Fasulo said if she had known the hurricane would hit her home, she would have taken her books

Fasulo said if she had known the hurricane would hit her home, she would have taken her books

Pictured: a book filled with mud, as most items could not be saved

Pictured: a book filled with mud, as most items could not be saved

A boot was seen covered in mold as Fasulo went around her house to pick up what she could

A boot was seen covered in mold as Fasulo went around her house to pick up what she could

The floor was completely covered in mud and Fasulo had to give up the shoes she was wearing to find her belongings on the island

The floor was completely covered in mud and Fasulo had to give up the shoes she was wearing to find her belongings on the island

As residents on the Florida coast continue to rebuild their lives, Fasulo has sought to help raise $100,000 for those in Matlacha and Pine Island as many lost either their homes, businesses, cars or their entire livelihoods.

“I have my own online business, so I’ll be fine,” Fasulo said. ‘It’s people who don’t, and the shop owners for 35 years.’

Fasulo explained that many of her neighbors lived in trailers or duplexes that are not insured.

‘They have nothing left,’ Fasulo wrote online fundraiser campaign. ‘No belongings, no place to sleep. They struggle to find basic supplies, food, necessities of life. Their businesses are gone.’

While uncertainty fills the air, the proceeds will go to Matlacha Hookers, a local community organisation.

More than $6,000 has been raised as of October 10th.

Aside from Fasulo’s efforts, Florida officials are setting up a 24-hour emergency hotline and support center to provide support to residents in need, according to the AP.

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