FORT MYERS BEACH
A woman watched as her home was demolished before her eyes. Hurricane Ian shifted the Fort Myers Beach home off its base, so she had no choice but to tear it down.
More than two months after the storm, the Oyster Bay Mobile Home Park doesn’t look much better.
With every drop and pull, Sharon Chaffee feels the shock of Hurricane Ian again and again.
“It’s sad. I mean, I worked really hard for what I got. And now it is gone,” said Chaffee.
Chaffee watched, almost in agony, as a backhoe, propped up on a pile of debris, tore apart her Oyster Bay home. 11 years of memories were ripped away.
“A two-bedroom home, and we just treated the backsplash all new quartz all new flooring took a lot of money into, a lot of love into it,” Chaffee said.
Then came Ian. Chaffee evacuated before the hurricane hit. Like everyone else, she saw the video from Fort Myers Beach and knew the storm had devastated the area.
That didn’t lessen the shock of what she saw when she returned home. The force of Hurricane Ian lifted her house right off its base. It was too dangerous to go inside afterward, and she lost everything she owned.
“It was just everything was like it would have been in a washing machine. It was just unbelievable. It’s just totally baffling,” said Chaffee.
WINK News reporter Emma Heaton spoke with Chaffee as heavy equipment tore away what was left of her home.
Emma: “How did we get to this point here?”
Chaffee: “Well, the association I’m a part of just started making some phone calls about, you know, get rid of the trailers that weren’t fixable. And so this guy came out and said, ‘yep, I can take care of that for ya,’ and here he is.”
Before the hurricane, Oyster Bay was a close-knit community of friends. Most of those people will never return. Some of their homes are as flat as pancakes, and others are a skeleton of what they used to be.
While the neighborhood is now a ghost town, Chaffee is not going anywhere.
Chaffee: “While this was happening, yes, I needed to be here. I needed to clean up and take responsibility for my property and my own stuff, so here I am.”
Emma: “We’re two months after the hurricane. How are you doing mentally?”
Chaffee: “I’m OK. I’ll probably downsize and just be more mobile and flexible. I don’t know. I don’t know. Ask me tomorrow might be different, but right now, I’m doing OK.”
Emma: “Have you accepted that this is what Fort Myers Beach is?”
Chaffee: “I think so. I mean, I loved how it was all the little cottages and all the fun little bars and stuff. And now that Margaritaville is here, I think that’s going to change it significantly. And yeah, we’ll see. I’m excited but also a little leery.”
Chaffee didn’t count on having to start all over again, but after spending the day with her, it is clear that no matter whatever pain life dishes out, she could take it.