As hurricane season kicks off, lessons learned from woman whose home was damaged by Hurricane Ian

Nearly two years after Hurricane Ian hit, Rhonda Stackhouse still remembers the destruction.

"It was a nightmare. Let me tell you. We never expected it to tear up the neighborhood and community as it did," she recalled.

Stackhouse is still working to rebuild her North Port home.

"We had to rip the whole house apart and start over," she explained.

It took a full year before Stackhouse and her children were able to move into a FEMA trailer in Port Charlotte. Stackhouse connected with the Sarasota County Long Term Recovery Group, a collaboration between churches, private and non-profit groups.

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"There are 30 to 60 people in the background for each house that we are trying to coordinate and make sure we have it all together to proceed forward," said John Livingston, a construction manager for the group.

Hilda Dutton is the Director of Disaster Recovery and Resiliency for the United Way of South Sarasota County. She said people dealing with storm damage need to advocate for themselves, just like Stackhouse did.

Pictured: Hilda Dutton, Rhonda Stackhouse John Livingston

"Reach out for services, as soon as possible," said Dutton. "If you have insurance try to work through the insurance, don’t wait on the insurance company to contact you. Don’t sit back and wait to see what they will offer you. You have to be pro-active."

Stackhouse couldn’t agree more.

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"There is no help that will come to you, you need to go to it, and you have to figure out who to go to and get the help and all the outreach you can do," she explained. "There is plenty of help out there you just can’t give up." 

For Sarasota County residents still dealing with unresolved hurricane problems from hurricanes Ian or Idalia, the Long Term Recovery Group is still accepting calls.

You can reach out to them through the United Way of South Sarasota County's website. For more information, click here.


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