Fort Myers, FL – Shannon Tolbert and her cousin lost power after two days Hurricane Ian makes landfallso they cooled off in the shade of a compact SUV trunk in front of their house on Friday afternoon.
They live in Dunbar. Dunbar is a historically black neighborhood in Fort Myers with a growing Hispanic and Latino population. On both sides of the road were uprooted trees, dismembered power lines, piles of fence debris, and debris from Ian’s Category 4 windstorm.
“Every time a storm comes, we’re the last to get power.” Simmons’ daughter Sherrel Lindsey nodded alongside Tolbert’s daughter, who was lounging in the back seat of the SUV.
“It makes sense,” Simmons said.
Black residents of Dunbar said they feared the aftermath of Hurricane Ian would be no different, saying that the city’s wealthier, predominantly white areas typically have better grids and move faster. He said power would be restored.
“That will be the number one priority. If people of color are in the majority, it will be the last,” said Tolbert, a dental assistant.
About 1.3 million Florida residents remained without power on Saturday. officials said During the weekend’s press conference. The Florida Power and Light Company said it was working to restore power to affected customers, and as of 10 a.m., two-thirds of its customers had power “as much as possible,” according to the company’s press release on Saturday. have recovered, and report that about 700,000 remain.
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The company estimates power will be restored to “most customers” in Fort Myers’ Lee County, where about 73% of households are still without power, by Saturday.
“It’s a tough road ahead, but we won’t back down and work until all our customers recover,” CEO and Chairman Eric Shirazi said in a press release.
Still, Dunbar residents have grown accustomed to relying on themselves and looking out for each other. Tolbert uses less gas and runs only the refrigerator generator. She leaves the windows open at night to let in the fresh air.
“We can live with anything,” said Tolbert. She, Simmons, and Lindsay said care packages were rare.
“If they do it in our neighborhood, it’s just one stop, one shop. And they don’t do it in multiple locations.
In Dunbar, streets and parks are named after notable late black activists and leaders. Roberto Clemente is a Puerto Rican baseball player of African descent who is also known for his Latin America philanthropy. Philanthropist and entrepreneur Ella Mae Lee. And Veronica Shoemaker is a civil rights activist, florist owner, and the first black city council member.
Minutes from Michigan Avenue and half a mile north of the Lee County Black Historical Society, Lorient Thurman lives. She’s a truck driver at a waste management facility, now flattened Fort She’s in the water at Myers Beach, she says.
“I’ve been here all this time and it’s been the most devastating storm ever. Trees are falling and people’s windows are being blown out,” she said. “[Ian]was very disrespectful because he didn’t just come and go, he just stayed there. He lingered. He came to show you that God is still in control.” has been confirmed.
About 16 miles from the Gulf Coast, the community of Dunbar lies a few miles south of the Caloosahachie River that runs through the city. The zip code is 33916 and the US Census estimates a median income of $37,740 with a per capita income of $21,700. About a quarter of people live below the poverty line.
Thurman said many didn’t have the resources to survive the storm.
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The Dunbar area was in Evacuation Zones C and D. Although less risky, these areas are prone to severe hurricane damage. But for low-income families, preparing to weather the storm’s aftermath can be difficult.
“Everybody didn’t have or could get what they needed because they couldn’t afford it,” she said.
Thurman countered with Tolbert about the power situation.
“No matter how long I’ve lived in Fort Myers and seen the storms, it’s always been this way. This neighborhood full of people of color always comes last,” she said. Those who have a generator get serviced first,” she said, adding that “they look down on us and make us feel like we’re serving those who can afford a generator.”
Her cousin across the street, Latronia Latson, 61, a former private geriatric nurse and now disabled, said she was afraid to leave due to health concerns. She didn’t want to evacuate with others for fear of catching the coronavirus. Her windows were blown out and, along with other debris, her tall palm trees fell into her garden.
“It’s a battle with the wind. We had mattresses and things by the window, but the wind was so strong it was fighting with us,” said Latson, who lives with her granddaughter and daughter. rice field. “We did what we had to do to survive.”
Haitian immigrant Marie-Fleurette Radius sprawled on a blanket on her front porch with her baby granddaughter, Sarah Gasnaya, on Friday afternoon as her granddaughter, Christ, played in the garden, steaming from the rice cooker on her back porch. was out.
“I woke up drenched,” Christ said of Ian’s rain.
Her older sister, Lindsay Garconville, 15, said she was lying in bed when the window shattered and shards of glass surrounded her. Her family survived the hurricane in another rental home, which suffered more damage, so they decided to move into this one. Still, it wasn’t without its own damage, such as leaks and broken windows.
“Two windows were broken.
Radius said that now there is no electricity and even when dawn comes, baby Sarah is afraid of the dark, so she needs to keep the flashlight on.
Two days after the storm, Radius called to check on her daughter, the children’s mother, and nursing assistant Marie Stinfil, who were at work that day.
“It’s very stressful,” Stinfill said exasperatedly over the phone. “We lost a lot of food.”
A few miles back west, Tolbert remembered stopping at an eatery after the storm, cash only. She had nothing with the white couple in front of her, just a card. She insisted she pay the $35 bill for them. “I said, ‘You don’t have to pay me back. Don’t worry,'” she said.
Tolbert and her cousins all said they “keep pushing” and help each other.
Her eyes filled with tears, said Tolbert.
Contact Nada Hassanein at [email protected] or on Twitter. @nhassanein_.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY. Hurricane Ian: Residents of Fort Myers Black suffer in devastation