Eight months ago, chef Michael Cellura had a restaurant job and had just moved into a fancy new camper home on Fort Myers Beach. Now, after Hurricane Ian swept all that away, he lives in his older Infiniti sedan with a 15-year-old long-haired chihuahua named Ginger.
Like hundreds of others, Cellura was left homeless after the Category 5 hurricane blasted the barrier island last September with ferocious winds and storm surge as high as 15 feet (4 meters). Like many, he’s struggled to navigate insurance payouts, understand federal and state assistance bureaucracy and simply find a place to shower.
“There’s a lot of us like me that are displaced. Nowhere to go,” Cellura, 58, said during a recent interview next to his car, sitting in a commercial parking lot along with other storm survivors housed in recreational vehicles, a converted school bus, even a shipping container. “There’s a lot of homeless out here, a lot of people living in tents, a lot of people struggling.”