Huge tree left in backyard 16 months after Hurricane Ian

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — For most of us, Hurricane Ian is a distant memory. But not for two sisters, who are surrounded by daily reminders of the storm and the lingering problems they can’t afford to fix.

Desperate for help, they turned to 8 On Your Side Investigator Mahsa Saeidi.

At first glance, it’s hard to spot the damage to the roof of the home in Tampa but once you step inside, there’s no doubt.

Sisters, Dorothy Cherry and Janice Clark, showed us what leaking water can do.

After 8 On Your Side report, family gets 50 times the amount of Hurricane Ian roof damage settlement offer

“After it starts raining, it leaks for a couple of days,” said Dorothy.

After 16 months, there’s a mysterious growth in the ceiling and in their closets.

“I got bit by a spider from all this,” said Janice.

It creeps Janice out and it doesn’t get much better when you step back out.

“The cement, it dug it all up,” said Janice.

The sisters say the winds from Hurricane Ian also caused a huge tree to split apart. The pavement was uprooted and the fence damaged.

Since September 2022, their grandchildren haven’t been able to play in the big backyard.

“This is what the kids used to like to come to the house for,” said Dorothy.

So, why haven’t the sisters made repairs yet? They say their insurance company lowballed them.

They got an attorney, and after months of inspections and chats, they got the settlement offer: $17,029.40. After attorney fees, they’re left with $12,637.88. According to estimates they’ve received, that will only cover getting a new roof.

Hurricane Ian victim waiting for repairs after Florida insurer’s insolvency

“This is home and I have nowhere else to go,” said Janice.

“She gets frustrated and then she takes it out on me,” said Dorothy.

The stress of trying to recover after a hurricane is taking a toll.

“I just feel sorry for her because she is doing all the work. I stay home and I help as much as I can, and we can’t, you know, do what they want us to do,” said Dorothy.

Like so many other storm victims, the sisters tell 8 On Your Side, the payout doesn’t fix the problem.

The yard is a huge problem. The sisters are trying to figure out how to remove the tree.

The sisters say this is an example of how Florida’s insurance market harms storm victims.

They say they were forced to get an attorney and now that all is said and done, the only way to become whole is to pay for some of this out of pocket.

If you have a tip or story idea, email Mahsa at MSaeidi@WFLA.com.

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