Many of you know us, but for those that don't, our names are Daniel and Heather Suarez. We struggle with where to start after the wake of Ian keeps coming. Sanibel and Captiva Island were our happiness and lifeblood in so many ways for as long as we can remember. Now, so much we have built and could call our own being a small apartment, and smaller business have washed away. My job on the island is gone. SanCap360 was our small business doing wildlife photography and real estate 360 tours on the islands is also gone.
We loved our little apartment near the island. Unfortunately, the downstairs apartments completely flooded. Being trapped from the gushing water, our neighbors smashed through the wall to escape to the top floor and had to break down our door to survive. Our apartment is destroyed and condemned. We grabbed what we could when we went to rescue our neighbors, trudging through waist level water. We hope to go back and collect a few more things (as long as the building doesn't collapse in the meantime).
We so badly want to stay. We love our island, but there's nothing left for us here. You work so hard for what you have, to build a life, and it's all gone in an instant. The sadness that's been left behind is unsurmountable, to the degree our downstairs neighbor of the last six years took his life soon after we left him to stay in our place and made sure he had food and supplies because he lost everything downstairs to Ian's surge. The next day he was gone.
Our plan now is to try and put together all the little pieces hurricane Ian has created. We have no home and no jobs, and we need help because we can't do it alone. Starting over is never easy, especially now.
Heather Maher Suarez
Fort Myers, FL