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San Carlos Park neighbors give up their Sunday to raise funds for Fort Myers Beach victims of Ian

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Mike Braun
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WGCU
Amid a backdrop of piles of dead trees and bushes, San Carlos Park resident Mike Heidenreich waved and called to passersby at Lee Road and Sanibel Boulevard. He was asked why he was giving up his Sunday. "Why not," he responded. "We have a lot of friends on Fort Myers Beach."

There are Lee County residents who felt the impact from Hurricane Ian but wanted to help others who lost close to everything.

Three who fit that description, Tommie and Brea Buster and Mike Heidenreich, spent their Sunday running a roadside hot dog stand at the Karl Drews Community Center just off Lee Road.

The Busters and Heidenreich are San Carlos Park neighbors who had some damage from Ian but figured there were others who had it much, much worse. They set up a grill and a corn hole game, and started cooking early Sunday.

Amid a backdrop of piles of dead trees and bushes, Heidenreich waved and called to passersby at Lee Road and Sanibel Boulevard. He was asked why he was giving up his Sunday.

"Why not," he responded. "We have a lot of friends on Fort Myers Beach."

Heidenreich, who works for a pool company and is a volunteer for the Felda Fire Department in nearby Hendry County, said his family lost only a swing-set and some trees. He acknowledged that others lost much more.

"Other communities were affected a little worse than us, considerably worse than us. We're blessed in our area, we're back up to where we need to be so let's try to get other communities back up to where they need to be," he said.

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Mike Braun
/
WGCU
Tommie and Brea Buster, who used to live and work on Fort Myers Beach, set up a cornhole game at a hot dog stand they were helping to run Sunday at Sanibel Boulevard and Lee Road. They were raising money and gathering supplies for friends and others on Fort Myers Beach who have lost almost everything to Hurricane Ian.

While the Buster’s home was relatively unscathed by Ian, the couple feels the losses of their former community.

Tommie Buster said he grew up on Fort Myers Beach from age 6, and did landscaping and worked at restaurants on the barrier island. Brea Buster was working at several restaurants on Fort Myers Beach, Snug Harbor, and the Dairy Queen on Times Square when Ian hit.

"The DQ is absolutely demolished, it's completely flattened," she said, adding Snug Harbor owners are hoping to rebuild.

Tommie Buster added, "We used to spend every night off together there."

The three friends’ Lee Road hot dog and chips barbecue effort Sunday, for which they only sought donations, gathered 200 meals-ready-to-eat, several cases of water, and more than $200. Now all of that is earmarked for Fort Myers Beach residents, many of whom have lost everything.

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