Saint James City residents living in tents four months after Ian - 96.9 WINK FM

Saint James City residents living in tents four months after Ian


Saint James City was hit hard by Hurricane Ian, and even in mid-January, the evidence can be seen everywhere.

It’s not uncommon to see tents set up around the city or entire sides of buildings devasted by the storm.

Many people living in Saint James City are waiting on help while they survive where they can.

Sonny Reeves slowly walking toward his trailer in Saint James City. CREDIT: WINK News

Barefoot, Sonny Reeves slowly walks to his bright red trailer on Blueberry Lane. A Marine Corps pouch draped over the handle of his walker. Step by step, the disabled veteran returns to the foreign place he calls home.

“We had a big mango tree right over here. And we would collect the mangoes for our neighbors when they were in Wisconsin during the summer,” Reeves said.

On Blueberry Ln. four months after Ian, the wounds remain fresh, and the acute pain is dreadful.

Pile of debris in Saint James Place. CREDIT: WINK News

“We’re just your moms and dads and granddaddies and grandmas. And your future, you’ll be like us one day,” Reeves said.

Over at Letamae McCall’s, a green tent replaces what was once a bedroom. And on the other side, simple quilts to stay warm.

“I’m 85, and he’s 83,” McCall said.

Being homeless for the first time older than 80 years old instills a serious degree of fear and uncertainty.

The couple’s flood-damaged home still sits untouched on their property, and it’s the only nearby place with running water.

“We walk in there to shower and go the bathroom. We don’t use no bathrooms outside, we go in there and do the showering or whatever. Because we got hot water in there and everything else otherwise, we were hot water,” Letamae McCall said.

Debris piled off the road in Saint James City. CREDIT: WINK News

And just a few doors down, outside of a brown RV, Bob Reid can be found. Reid’s often seen raking the streets, ensuring none of his friends step on a nail from the never-ending pile of debris.

“I’m tough; retired civil service. This is God’s waiting room, and my golly honey, I’m here waiting,” Reid said.

Reid couldn’t help but earnestly note something about the cleanup process.

“I just thought things would straighten up sooner,” Reid said.

McCall didn’t take long to describe what it’s like living in the area.

“It’s a living hell,” McCall said.

Many neighbors blame their ongoing battles with their insurance companies.

“We just wanna get the hell out of here with the money that we paid for the insurance,” McCall said.

“Multiple phone calls to multiple insurance companies.. we’ll call you back… recordings recordings recordings,” Reid said.

A home destroyed by Ian in Saint James City. CREDIT: WINK News

And after four months of no luck, they’re asking someone to step up.

“Call the governor and tell him that we still are homeless,” Reid said.

WINK News reached out to the Governor’s Office for the people in Saint James City. WINK News specifically asked about the problems they’re having with their insurance companies.

The Governor’s staff said they will look into what they could do to help and get back to us.


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