Karen Drew: Cars still being pulled from water months after Hurricane Ian pummeled Florida

Salvage teams pull out remnants of a nightmare that just won’t go away

Damage in Florida (Karen Drew)

NAPLES, Fla. – It was a sight I have never seen. Car after car in the intercoastal waters of Bonita Springs and Naples, Florida.

Some were stuck in muck, others turned over with their tires sticking out of the water. Another was being pulled out as our fishing boat went by.

I knew I would see damage here as Hurricane Ian pummeled the area in late September, but months later I was so devastated to see how many cars Ian tossed into the water and are still there.

Recovery and salvage crews are working hard, but it’s quite a job.

Damage in Florida (Karen Drew)

Our boat Captain Christy got teary as she talked about “her backyard” -- these waters where she takes groups fishing, sightseeing, and has spent much of her life enjoying the peacefulness of the water.

They’re now filled with debris, dive crews, and salvage teams trying to pull out the remnants of a nightmare that just won’t go away.

Boat Captain Christy (Karen Drew)

I wanted to share some of the images to let you know what is still going on and how much still needs to be done. Many of us have grandparents, parents, or friends who have moved to Florida or retired there.

On the beachfront in Naples, I saw so many homes destroyed, boarded up, and then I saw this woman -- I’m guessing she was in her 70s -- with a rake in her hand cleaning up debris next to her ranch home on the beach.

That house always captured my attention. I always admired the grey 1950s-era ranch. When I would visit the area over the years I would always see the driveway filled with cars and visiting family and thought, ‘what a very special home filled with love.’

The woman raking told me she retired here 30 years ago from Atlanta. I was with my girls walking the beach when we met her and wanted to let her know how very sorry we were and said we would pray for her and her family. I could tell this woman was strong not only for her ability at her age to be doing the heavy work she was doing in cleanup -- but her heart and soul.

She was grateful for the prayers and said she is hoping to rebuild and make more family memories there. I didn’t want to bother her and didn’t stay long. She and her family had work to do.

I pray her dream of rebuilding does come true.

Damage in Florida (Karen Drew)
Damage in Florida (Karen Drew)
Damage in Florida (Karen Drew)

About the Author:

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter.