Cape Coral residents weather Hurricane Ian: 'It’s been a catastrophic event for the city'

Torn roofs, bent signs, collapsed trees, and boats on land are just some of the aftereffects to Cape Coral after Hurricane Ian made its way through Southwest Florida.

Significant structural damage to homes and businesses can be found throughout Cape Coral.

Several residents in southeast Cape Coral experienced flooding in their homes and had no electricity or water Thursday.

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Previous Cape Coral hurricane coverage: Cape Coral declares state of emergency, evacuation mandatory for parts of the city

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Cindy Berdette's heart was broken when her husband and she emerged from their home and saw the devastation the hurricane brought.

Broken palm trees, damaged roofs, and a boat in the middle of the street.

She's lived over 30 years in the city and was supposed to evacuate to Leigh Acres, but decided to take her chances last minute.

She's been through 2004's hurricane Charley and was living in the same area in southeast Cape Coral, but she said hurricane Ian was worse for her.

Her home was flooded with several inches of water.

"I never had this damage before," Berdette said.

Hurricane Ian's effects

Fire Chief Ryan Lamb said the city is working on assessing how much damage the city sustained.

“I believe every structure in the city of Cape Coral has been damaged, from a shingle that's been damaged to catastrophic damage,” Lamb said. “It’s been a catastrophic event for the city.”

He said the recovery process will take years.

“It’s going to take years, this is a pivotal impact event for the city of Cape Coral, this is going to affect the way we operate and do business for a very long time.

Cape Coral residents clean up the pieces

Brandy and Randy Fennell Duncan were walking near the Yacht Club Community Park to see their old home located near the beach, which had a flipped-over boat near the house and damage to the boat dock.

"This had a beautiful tiki hut, which was like the picture of Cape Coral," said Brandy Duncan, who said the house was flooded inside.

She came over to see the condition of the house as she said it was built to withstand a hurricane.

The city of Cape Coral showed major signs of damage after strong winds and flood waters as a result of Hurricane Ian impacted areas of the city on Thursday September 29, 2022.The city of Cape Coral showed major signs of damage after strong winds and flood waters as a result of Hurricane Ian impacted areas of the city on Thursday September 29, 2022.
The city of Cape Coral showed major signs of damage after strong winds and flood waters as a result of Hurricane Ian impacted areas of the city on Thursday September 29, 2022.The city of Cape Coral showed major signs of damage after strong winds and flood waters as a result of Hurricane Ian impacted areas of the city on Thursday September 29, 2022.

"We were here for Irma and this did not happen, this is insane," she said.

She also said The News-Press that the pier at the yacht club was gone.

Cape Coral Spokeswoman Melissa Mickey said the pier was damaged.

Jodie McConnell, Berdette's neighbor, said her home was entirely damaged.

"It's all mud, everything in it was brand new, the paint wasn't even dry after the painter was just there last week," McConnell said.

Debbie Heimann, a Cape Coral resident who lives in the community near the Cape Coral Yacht Club, looks at her mud-covered floor after waters from the storm surge caused by Hurricane Ian flooded her home. Cape Coral showed major signs of damage after strong winds and flood waters impacted areas of the city on Thursday September 29, 2022.The city of Cape Coral showed major signs of damage after strong winds and flood waters as a result of Hurricane Ian impacted areas of the city on Thursday September 29, 2022.
Debbie Heimann, a Cape Coral resident who lives in the community near the Cape Coral Yacht Club, looks at her mud-covered floor after waters from the storm surge caused by Hurricane Ian flooded her home. Cape Coral showed major signs of damage after strong winds and flood waters impacted areas of the city on Thursday September 29, 2022.The city of Cape Coral showed major signs of damage after strong winds and flood waters as a result of Hurricane Ian impacted areas of the city on Thursday September 29, 2022.

Debbie Heimann, another resident who experienced hurricanes Charley and Irma said she never expect several inches of flooding in her home.

She was supposed to go to Mexico with her husband on Saturday, but she expects they will be busy cleaning their home.

Heimann didn't renew her flood or homeowner's insurance this year, so she and her partner are left on their own to clean up the water damage.

Staring around what was left to clean, all she could say was "we managed to be able to sleep."

A long clean-up is ahead of these residents as they pick up the pieces of their homes.

"We don't have a choice, this is our home, this where we live, we don't know where to go," Berdette said.

A large sailboat sits in the backyard of a waterfront home near the Cape Coral Yacht Club area after being moved by flood waters and wind as a result of Hurricane Ian. Cape Coral showed major signs of damage after strong winds and flood waters impacted areas of the city on Thursday September 29, 2022.The city of Cape Coral showed major signs of damage after strong winds and flood waters as a result of Hurricane Ian impacted areas of the city on Thursday September 29, 2022.
A large sailboat sits in the backyard of a waterfront home near the Cape Coral Yacht Club area after being moved by flood waters and wind as a result of Hurricane Ian. Cape Coral showed major signs of damage after strong winds and flood waters impacted areas of the city on Thursday September 29, 2022.The city of Cape Coral showed major signs of damage after strong winds and flood waters as a result of Hurricane Ian impacted areas of the city on Thursday September 29, 2022.

Hurricane Ian leaves misery: Hurricane Ian leaves trail of misery with its long, slow trip through Southwest Florida

Cape officials speak up

"This is a time that we got to come together," Mayor John Gunter said. "Any outside help we will surely welcome it, we are definitely going to need help to get through this."

The city's water system, sewer lift stations, and LCEC's electrical distribution system have all been have been damaged or without power.

Major roads were cleared by 6:30 Thursday morning, and there were 250 outstanding emergency calls that the city is working on clearing.

All nonessential city services will be suspended through the end of the week to support the response effort related to Ian.

Mike Ilczyszyn, the city's public work director, told residents not to use their boats on the canals while the city clears the debris.

He also said all residents should treat all broken traffic signals as always stop signs.

Police Chief Anthony Sizemore said evacuated people can come back to the city, but he advises caution.

"If you don't have to be in a situation that people are forced to be in now, I would advise against it, but you are absolutely free and not prohibited to come back into the city," Sizemore said.

Fire Chief Ryan Lamb said Island Coast High School still has capacity if they cannot stay in their homes, or contact the fire department and they will arrange transportation.

Cape Coral is promoting crisis clean-up at 1-800-451-1954, as a resource for residents to cut down trees and tarping roofs.

Luis Zambrano is a Watchdog/Cape Coral reporter for The News-Press and the Naples Daily News. You can reach Luis at Lzambrano@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @Lz2official.

This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Hurricane Ian leaves long-lasting damage in Cape Coral, Florida