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Suncoast Estates copes with post-Ian problems and uncertainty

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Mike Walcher
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This is one room inside Cathy Hallock's mobile home in Suncoast Estates in North Fort Myers. She said the storm tore off the roof and punched huge holes in the sides of the home, and she is growing impatient waiting for help.

Cathy Hallock pointed to the make-shift coverings over the huge holes in her mobile home in Suncoast Estates in North Fort Myers.

"There's an electrical box right there," she said. "Just got tarps and zip-ties to cover it all."

Hurricane Ian tore off most of the roof of her home, and dumped the metal about 75 feet away. Hallock also has small bits of tarp on the roof, and a lot of the insulation under the roof now is scattered in chunks around her property.

Hallock said she has called FEMA.

"I got a claim going with them but I need something. We've got rain coming," she said. "I'm going mentally insane. It's not good.

Thirty-two-year-old Nick Shaw said he is not faring well after Ian. He said he has no power in his trailer in Suncoast, which some have called the world's largest trailer park. Shaw is living in his car and in a tent on some property owned by his girlfriend.

Shaw said dealing with the problems after the storm are wearing on him, even after his relief at surviving the hurricane itself.

"I thought I was going to die in it, but this aftermath, oh wow," he said. "I think I'd rather go through three hours of the storm than the aftermath, because this is rough."

The Suncoast Community Center is the lifeline to the area, helping as many as 750 people a day with free food, water, clothes and other items.

"The amount of stuff we have to give out is astronomical," center director Michael Jenkins said. "But my heart is sad because so many people had roofs torn off, and now their entire lives are just scattered everywhere."

Cathy Hallock said she needs a camper so she, her male friend and her son can sleep above ground. "I'm just angry," she said. "I am sick, coming down with walking pneumonia. I need a camper."

Not even the community center can provide that, but director Michael Jenkins said he understands the physical and health problems that can result from dealing with disaster. He said he and some volunteers have been working 16 hours a day to take in, and hand out, supplies.

"I am wore out," he said. "I can't sleep, my feet a swollen, my legs hurt. My head and my heart are okay."

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Forty-one-year veteran of television news in markets around the country, including more than 18 years as an anchor and reporter at WINK-TV in southwest Florida.