A woman living on San Carlos Island describes the terrifying decision to stay on a Fort Myers beach during Hurricane Ian.

Margie Titus stayed with friends in Fort Myers Beach during Jan, and they rode out the hurricane in a three-story home.

She said she has been in Fort Myers Beach during a number of other hurricanes, including Wilma and Charley.

“I’ve never felt this in 32 years,” Titus said.

“It was terrifying because we were on three floors watching the garages collapse. There were eight houses in our radius that had just been washed away. My heart goes out to them because I still have my home. It was under water, but I still have it,” she added.

Titus said the day after the hurricane passed, she walked nearly 18 miles back to her home on San Carlos Island.

“The only way to get anywhere was to walk, and the road to the beach was covered in wire, sand and mud,” Titus said.

Brad Smith lived in the Bon Air community near the beach. His mobile home community was destroyed along with the San Carlos Lodge mobile home park.

We met Smith while he was looking for sentimental items in piles of junk.

He pulled out the statue of St. Francis, the one he had given his wife.


“It’s difficult. It’s cement, so I knew, I hoped, that it couldn’t slip; some things did,” Smith said.

Smith also wanted to restore the windows in his mobile home park. He said he recently installed the windows after his mother died.

“My mom just passed away, and with the money I got from my mom, I bought windows to put in my room in Florida. I thought every time I opened the windows I said, ‘Thanks, Mom,'” Smith said.

Smith said losing everything was an emotional ride.

“My wife has a Christmas display, and I came to get it. It was something in the family and I came to get it but couldn’t find it. “I’m going to keep digging,” Smith said, fighting back tears.

Hurricane Ian left behind a long and relentless path of destruction.

“We are strong in Fort Myers Beach. We are going to restore. It’s a wonderful, beautiful community full of wonderful, beautiful people. We will rebuild, but these are rebuilding years,” Titus said.