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Bonita Springs gets ready for the arrival of Hurricane Ian

Bonita residents loading sandbags
Tara Calligan
Residents in Bonita Springs, Karen Anderson (far left) and Kathleen Hanrahan (far right), load sandbags into the truck of their car at the Bonita Springs Fire Department Station 26.

Hurricane Ian is expected to impact Southwest Florida as early as Tuesday afternoon.

Life-threatening storm surge is possible along much of the Florida west coast, with the highest risk from Fort Myers to the Tampa Bay region, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The Home Depot on Bonita Beach Road saw items like generators, water, plywood and gas cans fly off the shelves throughout the weekend. On Monday afternoon, steady groups of shoppers were leaving the store with similar items.

Bonita Springs residents prepare for Hurricane Ian

Linda Fortunato, Assistant Manager of the Bonita Beach Road SE Home Depot, says the store ran out of generators Friday and water over the weekend, but the store received special shipments to restock the shelves quickly.

She says customers seemed on edge, and that might be because they could be new to the area.

"I saw a lot of nervousness in our customers, a lot of anxiousness," said Fortunato. "I feel we have a lot of new customers down here from the North and so this is maybe their first-time experience."

Hurricane supply signage Home Depot Bonita Springs
Tara Calligan
A sign from the weekend showing hurricane supply items that were out of stock at the Home Depot on Bonita Beach Road ahead of Hurricane Ian's arrival.

Fortunato lost the roof of her home and pool cage to Hurricane Charley in 2004. Her home was without power for two weeks. She says the lesson learned from that storm was to document and photograph important belongings before the storm, in case you need it for an insurance claim.

“Once after the disaster, your mind's blank and you're trying to say, what did I have? And you're, you know, it's hard to think of everything,” said Fortunato.

Four miles up the road, the Bonita Springs Fire Department was providing sandbags and sand for residents to take in case of flooding.

Neighbors Karen Anderson and Kathleen Hanrahan filled up sandbags for themselves and neighbors who were unable to get there.

“We live in a community and some people can't get out and do what needs to be done," said Hanrahan. "So, we'd much rather have our systems in place and our neighbor systems in place than be last minute.”

Bonita Springs Fire Chief Greg DeWitt says the station uses the Bonita Springs Fire Patrol app to get the word out about sandbag distribution and other hurricane preparedness resources.

The station distributed more than 1,300 bags of sand to area residents by 3:30 p.m. on Monday, and by 4 p.m., the fire station was out of sand.

Bonita Springs sand bag fillins
Tara Calligan
Residents fill bags of sand at the Bonita Springs Fire Department 30-minutes before the department ran out or supply.

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