One week after Ian: Floridians try to rebuild, while search and rescue efforts continue

A 75-year-old sheltered in place and survived. Hundreds of survivors are being helped by the Florida Task Force 2.

FORT MYERS, Fla. – "I’m getting too old for this," said John Anderson, as he surveyed the debris strewn around him.

Anderson is a 20-year resident of Fort Myers, Florida, a city that was devastated by Hurricane Ian when it barreled through the Sunshine State one week ago.

Anderson, 75, rode out the storm in his home, just as he rode out other storms that hit Southwest Florida over the past two decades.

"I've never seen anything like this," Anderson said to FOX Weather multimedia journalist Brandy Campbell. "It's like somebody dropped a bomb in here."

"It's upsetting," he added. "I never thought we'd get whacked like this."

Like Anderson, many Floridians stayed behind during Hurricane Ian and have emerged from the rubble to try to rebuild their lives and communities.

Soon after the storm passed, first responders from Florida Task Force 2 came to Fort Myers. They arrived about 10 p.m. – just hours after Ian hit – to begin combing through the area to find survivors.

"The first 48 hours to 72 hours was a nonstop search," said Capt. Ignatius Carroll, spokesperson for Florida Task Force 2. "We worked through the day and night. There was no resting at all. We did not leave this area, and we continue searching."

In the first 48 hours, Florida Task Force 2 was able to identify and speak to 750 people who rode out the storm and helped 200 people who wanted to be evacuated.

They also assisted 100 people who were trapped in their homes by either debris that had blocked their doors or the first floor of their homes had been destroyed by the storm surge.

Emergency medical services also provided assistance, such as reviving two people who went into cardiac arrest and then taking them to a hospital.

During the search and rescue efforts, however, Florida Task Force 2 also found residents that did not survive the storm. They have been working with local law enforcement to notify family members of the deceased.

One week after Ian, Carroll’s team is still finding people who sheltered in place during the storm and are trapped.

"The one thing that I think survivors need to understand – and we call them survivors here in this island because they made it through the storm – is that their infrastructure on the other side of the bridge has also been affected," said Carroll.

"The best thing you can do for yourselves, for your loved ones, is to evacuate so that resources, so that an infrastructure can be reestablished here, so they can come back here and begin the rebuild process," he added.

Many Florida residents, such as Anderson, want to rebuild their homes.

"I will stay," he said, with a tremble in his voice. "I love it out here. We got nice weather, nice neighbors, and it's a good thing."