TOWN OF ST JAMES

St. James City was hit hard by Hurricane Ian, and even in mid-January the evidence is everywhere.

It is not uncommon to see tents pitched around the city or entire sides of buildings destroyed by the storm.

Many people living in St. James City are waiting for help while they can survive.

Sonny Reeves walks slowly to his trailer in St. James City. CREDIT: WINK News

Barefoot Sonny Reeves walks slowly to his bright red trailer on Blueberry Lane. Marine bag slung over the handle of a walker. Step by step, the disabled person returns to a foreign country, which he calls native.

“Here we had a big mango tree. And we picked mangoes for our neighbors when they were in Wisconsin for the summer,” Reeves said.

On Chernichny av. Four months after Jan, the wounds are still fresh, and the sharp pain is terrible.

A pile of debris in St. James’s Square. CREDIT: WINK News

“We’re just your moms and dads, grandparents. And your future, you’ll be like us one day,” Reeves said.

At Letamae McCall’s, a green tent replaces what was once a bedroom. And on the other hand, simple blankets to keep warm.

“I’m 85 and he’s 83,” McCall said.

Being homeless for the first time over the age of 80 can cause serious fear and uncertainty.

The couple’s flood-damaged home still stands intact on their property, the only place nearby with running water.

“We go in there to shower and use the bathroom. We don’t use the bathrooms outside, we go in there and shower or whatever. Because we had hot water there and everything else, we were hot water,” Letomae McCall said.

Debris piled up on the road in St. James City. CREDIT: WINK News

And just a few doors down, behind a brown van, you can find Bob Reid. Reid is often seen scavenging the streets, making sure none of his friends step on a nail from the endless pile of trash.

“I’m tough; retired civil service. This is God’s waiting room, and oh my god, I’m waiting here,” Reed said.

Reid couldn’t help but mention something about the cleaning process.

“I just thought things would get better sooner,” Reid said.

It didn’t take long for McCall to describe what it’s like to live in the area.

“It’s hell,” McCall said.

Many neighbors blame ongoing battles with insurance companies.

“We just want to get out of here with the money we paid for the insurance,” McCall said.

“A few phone calls to a few insurance companies… we’ll call you back… records records records,” Reid said.

A house destroyed by John in St. James City. CREDIT: WINK News

And after four months of failure, they’re asking someone to step up.

“Call the governor and tell him we’re still homeless,” Reid said.

WINK News reached out to the Governor’s People’s Office in St. James City. WINK News specifically asked about the problems they are having with their insurance companies.

The governor’s staff said they would look into how they could help and get back to us.

But Florida’s director of emergency management said if people in St. James City or anywhere else in Southwest Florida need shelter, they can apply for a temporary trailer.

Click here to go to the website for more information on how to apply. You can also call 1800-892-0948 for more information.

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