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Workers go door-to-door urging people to apply for Ian help

Mike Walcher
Workers for the private company Indelible go door-to-door in Lee County, talking with people and handing out flyers on how to get help repairing damage from Hurricane Ian. Each worker wears a shirt with the words 'How can I help?' on the back.

Outreach workers are going door-to-door in some Lee County neighborhoods, reminding Hurricane Ian victims to apply for help.

Time is running out to apply to FEMA, the deadline is Thursday, January 12, but other resources will be available after that.

Maddie Lapak is a member of a disaster recovery team, talking with people in the Dunbar community of Fort Myers.

"We're going around to spread awareness about aid," she said to one homeowner. "There is money that needs to be used. There's a deadline on the 12th."

Lapak and others who work for the private company Indelible, hired by the state, are handing out flyers with phone numbers and emails for local, state and federal agencies. Each worker wears a shirt with the words: 'How can I help?' on the back. A worker talked with Janie Young.

"Oh I think it is nice." Young said of the outreach. "It's good.  I appreciate it."

Jeannie Sutton, deputy director of Lee Human and Veteran Services, said even now, 100 days after the storm, some people need help in applying for recovery aid.

"I know it can be a trying time for a lot of people," Sutton said. "It can be paralyzing about where to go next."

 Sutton added that more FEMA applications can bring in more money from other sources.

"When the other federal or state agencies are deciding on money, they look at the FEMA registrations to measure the needs in the community," she explained.

Janet Schuch says Ian damaged her Lee County home, and she supports the outreach.

"I just feel there is a lot of confusion," she said. "Where to apply, how to apply. They say go online, but some people don't have access to the internet."

Adam Rushing of North Fort Myers wonders how anyone could have missed all the information about help.

"It (Ian) was back in September," he said. "The word has been out. People should have already applied."

Still the outreach goes on, and Lee County is asking the state to keep funding the outreach effort, past the FEMA deadline.

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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.