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Area snowbirds who winter in southwest Florida check on hurricane damaged homes

WDAY News talked with more than a dozen people from our region who winter near Marco and Sanibel Island, Fort Myers and Bonita Springs. All plan to return, but not until power is back, and roads are clear.

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The devastation of Hurricane Ian has left many snowbirds in the Fargo area with destroyed neighborhoods and homes where they spend the winter months.
Contributred / Lee County Sheriff's Office
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FARGO — There are many people from Fargo-Moorhead who spend the winter in Florida, and now many are watching as news reports show widespread devastation at their home away from home.

"I've just talked to a few now who are on their way down," Roger Reierson said.

Like many, Reierson, a Fargo business owner, has watched the incredible damage Hurricane Ian left behind. But for Reierson, and so many others, it hits home.

"Pictures are coming in of cars wiped away, and shoved right into the water. Boats coming up either on roads, or docks, or gone," Reierson said.

He and many others from the community call Bonita Springs home in the winter.

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"It will be years. it will be years (to repair the damage). We are going to stay where we are. We love it.," Reierson said.

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Reierson says boats and cars are now surrounding homes and condos. All from an incredible surge of water. A wall of water several feet high.

"Fort Myers beach, it's just heartbreaking what has happened there. You see the high-rises still up, but everything in front of the high-rises, the strip malls, the little shops, the souvenir shops, it looks like all of them are completely devastated," Reierson said.

Bonita Springs is often called, "Little Fargo" in the winter. In fact, a group meets weekly at Doc's Beach House for coffee, but not anymore, as it has been leveled.

Nancy Frosaker Johnson winters in Fort Myers. All the places she brings family to are gone, but her home has been spared. Her focus now, is on those not so lucky.

"We're seeing all of these mobile home parks that have been devastated. They have been flattened. They have no place to go to," Frosaker said. "We think about people who are elderly that don't have the luxury of going down there for four months like we do. This is all they have. They are 80, 90 years old and all of a sudden, they have nothing."

Related Topics: WEATHER
Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

Contact Email: kwallevand@wday.com
Phone Number: (701) 241-5317
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