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Residents of Florida’s Pine Island receive little government aid after Hurricane Ian | USA TODAY


Florida’s Pine Island was hit hard by Hurricane Ian. Now, most of the relief effort is being carried out by volunteers.

RELATED: Florida drone captures beached boats, destroyed Sanibel Causeway

Ian slammed into Pine Island with 150-mph winds, snapping telephone poles and trees, ripping roofs from homes, and tumbling mobile homes and RVs. About 9,000 people live on Pine Island and the surrounding areas year round, but it swells dramatically as northern snowbirds soak up the sun from the waterside bars and restaurants.

Under normal circumstances, leaving Pine Island for the mainland is not much more than a quick drive over a bridges and then you’re in Cape Coral, with Fort Myers a little further down the road. But now, the only access is by boat. Dozens of volunteers are ferrying donated supplies to the islands in private boats, working alongside the U.S. Coast Guard, which is managing the water-based evacuation of the island.

The people helping — boat captains, fishermen, area residents — say they’re compelled to do something. Most of them are burning their own gas to operate; there’s no government subsidy or fuel depot.

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