An artist in East Naples who lost all her supplies during Hurricane Ian and no longer had a way to make a living received much-needed help from anonymous strangers who saw her plight on WINK News.
Kaata Mrachek’s life work was destroyed by the floodwaters that swept through her mobile home in Moorhead Manor. Her studio, where countless artistic visions came to life, lay in ruins.
“Here is my studio… oh my God… oh my God, oh my God, it is so musty and mildewy in here… all my art was just covered in water,” Mrachek said. “All the tools.”
Her artwork was scattered, and her supply bins were full of water.
“The first several days was just like, people would ask questions, and I would, I couldn’t get my words out,” Mrachek said. “And sometimes I’m just, I just break down. And then sometimes it’s like, ‘OK, let’s shore it up. Let’s move ahead and do what we need to do.’ And I’ve been having a lot of nightmares, so I haven’t been sleeping very well.”
Mrachek was worried her career was over, as showing her artwork each season in Bonita Springs and Coconut Point is how she made a living. Three months after Ian, however, the streets of her Moorhead Manor community are once again clean and welcoming, and Mrachel’s studio is back in working condition.
“I can’t wait to start painting,” Mrachek said. “I have so much pressure built up to really want to create something beautiful and not just have to build rebuild cabinets and doors and all sorts of things.”
She was helped by WINK News viewers who wish to remain anonymous.
“After the newscast, somebody called me up and said, ‘We were moved by you, we really wanted to do a donation,’ and they’re like, ‘What would you need?’” Mrachek said. “I’m like, ‘What I really, really need is really expensive, and so don’t worry about that.’ They’re like, ‘It’s okay, go for it.’”
The anonymous benefactors helped Mrachek get a new power saw, a tool crucial to her art.
“I use it to cut all my paintings. I use it to make all my custom frames,” Mrachek said. “I mean, this is my baby.”
The donation helped Mrachek return to doing what she loved, but she can never forget Hurricane Ian’s impact.
“I have been looking forward to this day for so long; I just have some order and some beauty back in my life,” Mrachek said. “I can’t tell you how important this is. It’s almost like you gotta go really bad, and it really builds up, and you just can’t wait to get and have that wonderful release.”
Ian’s aftermath and the rebirth of Southwest Florida’s communities have inspired new ideas.
“I noticed there are a lot of images of things bursting… flowers or buds are bursting forward is the best image I can describe,” Mrachek said. “You know, it’s in such a contrast to what I’ve gone through.”