Tucked in between Cape Coral, Florida and Pine Island holds the small community of Matlacha Island.
Matlacha was once filled with colorful businesses, restaurants and homes belonging to residents that enjoyed paradise in their backyard.
“I love this little town. I loved it here. My neighbors are great. It’s just a fun little place and never really been through a hurricane like this, Karen Pagliaro said from her window of her small home on the island.
Pagliaro is a native New Yorker, one of many that moved for warmer weather. Hurricane Ian brought near Category 5 winds to the Southwest region of Florida.
As the islanders grabbed their items to evacuate, some others with too many pets decided to stay on the island. Tracy Keen and her small family of five cats and two dogs have a safe haven in their intact home.
“Everyone’s been really helpful with each other. It’s just officials. They told us that they’re not going to open the grocery stores because they basically want us off the island,” Keen said.
The town has no exit or entry by car due to the destruction of their bridge and road from Cape Coral. Although the community created a makeshift bridge to help pedestrians through, the bridge is unstable and unsafe.
United States Coast Guard and U.S. Military brings water and supplies during the day for the islander but it’s unknown when they’ll be asked to fully evacuate for their safety once it’s time to clear out to roads and debris.
Although Karen Pagliaro keeps a laugh in her conversation she remembers she doesn’t know what’s next.
“I don’t know if it’s safe to stay here,” Keen said. “I just don’t know what you do with it. I have nothing. I have no car. I have nothing. So it’s an adventure, you know?”