US News: "We feel a little forgotten": in Florida, Matlacha cut off from the world after Hurricane Ian

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K Aren Pagliaro travels the main street of Matlacha, sneaking, a little lost, between the slaughtered trees, abandoned debris and vehicles. This island of 800 inhabitants, usually a small corner of paradise, was cut off from the world after the passage of Hurricane Ian, which damaged the two bridges connecting it to the rest of Florida.

"We feel a little forgotten", regrets this 50 -year -old teacher, who lost her house in the storm. "We thought they (the authorities) were going to send help, water, supplies and other things, but they said no, and that we had to leave," she adds.

Until Wednesday, Matlacha was a little gem in the southwest of Florida, a fishing village with colored wooden houses built around a large street, where we enjoy the sea, the blue sky, Restaurants with seafood and small art galleries.

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The Hurricane, which according to a latest official assessment left 58 confirmed deaths in Florida -against 44 deaths announced before -changed everything.

Three days after its passage, the coast guards, the firefighters and the inhabitants of the neighboring cities go there by boat to rescue the last residents who remained stuck after refusing to evacuate before the storm.

Other inhabitants who had left the island rebuild the trip in the opposite direction to see the damage.

Christian Lopez, 25, observes the pier where emergency services evacuate victims.

He does not intend to leave. "I prefer to stay here rather than going elsewhere and being on the street. Here, at least we have a small roof, we will try to repair the caravan where we live," explains the young man.

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"I have no plan"

at the other end of Matlacha, the main street is cut by a huge crack that the inhabitants cross on a makeshift bridge made of a metal board.

Here and there, dozens of people are walking tired, looking elsewhere. Most share the same uncertainty: they don't know where to go.

"I don't have a plan," said John Lynch, resigned. The house of this 59 -year -old man sinks into the sea and he is preparing to leave the premises.

"We have been here for 25 years (...) it's a Crève-Coeur because this is where we planned to live the rest of our lives," he sighs.

Karen Pagliaro does not know what she is going to do from now on. She has nowhere to go and the school where she works had to close temporarily because of the damage caused by the hurricane. What is clear for her is that she wants to live in Matlacha.

"It is our city, we cherish it and we like to be here," she said.

Near the pier, Jim Bedra is on the verge of leaving with his wife, Kathy, and their dog, Luna, on a coast guard boat. Last week, this septuagenarian wanted to evacuate the island with Kathy and their 31 -year -old son, but the latter convinced him to stay where they have lived since 2013. Now he has no house and his voice breaks to the evocation of this situation.

"We are going to stay in a shelter, I imagine. This is not the retirement we are looking for," he explains, adding that he wants to return to his original state, Ohio, in The north of the United States .

Before embarking on the boat which must drive it on the continent, Jim adds: "I never want to come back here."

03/10/2022 03:45:54-Matlacha (United States) ( AFP )-© 2022 AFP

On the southern front, the Ukrainian soldiers want to reach Kherson for Christmas .
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