LEE COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — The Walton County Sheriff deployed fire rescue crews to Southwest Florida just a day after Hurricane Ian struck the state.
The deputies and firefighters are providing relief to local first responders, many of them still dealing with their own damaged or lost homes.
Currently, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office has about a dozen people on the ground.
Walton County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Corey Dobridnia arrived in Fort Myers Sunday and has been assisting state task force teams doing search and rescue.
She said she’s been struck by the expanse of the damages.
“Walking around and seeing the damage is eye-opening,” Dobridnia said. “You’re like ‘How did that structure move from here to there?’ You’re seeing structures off their foundations. You’re seeing roofs literally in their neighbors’ yards.”
But Dobridnia said the speed of the recovery is progressing at an astounding pace.
A temporary road out to Pine Island was completed in less than three days.
“A storm just tore apart that road and we’re already able to drive across it and it hasn’t even been two weeks, a month,” Dobridnia said. “That’s very significant and people want to see their homes. They want to be able to go back with generators and start cleaning up and things like that. That brings a lot of peace of mind.”
Dobridnia said Walton County’s initial fire rescue teams returned from Lee County back to the Panhandle Thursday.
A second team of deputies and more fire rescue crews relieved them.
“Everybody is looking for answers and that’s what we’re doing here. We are trying to answer the call and it doesn’t matter if it’s in our backyard or eight hours away,” Dobridnia said.
Dobridnia said Sheriff Mike Adkinson has committed to continue sending help as long as the need persists.
If you’d like to help Hurricane Ian survivors, Dobridnia said it’s best if you send monetary donations or work directly with charities already on the ground in the disaster areas.