CAPE CORAL, Fla. – Those impacted by Hurricane Ian on the Gulf Coast were hit hard by flooding and other storm damage, now they’re also facing the prospect of dwindling food and water supplies.
The Lee County government announced Saturday that they have opened 8 Points of Distribution (PODS) where residents will be able to pick up free food, supplies and ice.
At one distribution point in Cape Coral however, food supplies disappeared quickly.
MRE’s or Meals Ready to Eat ran out at the Leonard Street location by about 11:30 a.m., according to Cape Coral Police officer Mike Scarlotto. Scarlotto said he saw “thousands of cars worth of people and hundreds of people walking up on foot” since the POD opened at 8 a.m.
Despite the lack of food, dozens of cars and a few people arriving on foot lined up to pick up cases of water from the Florida National Guard members staffing the operation.
One of those people was EMS worker and Cape Coral resident Danielle Rosario, who was hoping to bring supplies to the patients she transports and her family, including three children.
“They’re evacuating a lot of the hospitals over here,” she said. “So we’ve been busy. It’s been difficult for all of us at this point.”
Rosario’s home was just one of many in the area damaged by flooding. She said the Cape Coral community is banding together to help each other out.
“I’ve been here my whole life and to see it just destroyed is really terrifying,” Rosario said.
35,000 people were served on Saturday and Lee County was re-stocked with supplies overnight, according to Sandra Tapfumaneyi, the Lee County Public Safety-Emergency Management Director.
“That was an incredible amount with a one-day opening of the PODs,” Tapfumaneyi said. “We’re really proud of those efforts.”
Some supplies, like ice, are limited and not guaranteed to be at every POD location, according to Tapfumaneyi.
POD locations that are currently open include:
- Old Bonita Library (26876 Pine Ave, Bonita Springs)
- Kelly Road Soccer Complex (10750 Kelly Road, Fort Myers)
- Cape Coral Sports Complex (1410 Sports Blvd, Cape Coral)
- Cape Coral Leonard Street (4820 Leonard St, Cape Coral)
- Estero High School Ballfield Park (9100 Williams Road, Estero)
- North Fort Myers Recreation Center (2000 N Recreation Park Way, North Fort Myers)
- Fleamasters Fleamarket (4135 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Fort Myers)
- Veterans Park Recreation Center (55 Homestead Road S, Lehigh Acres)
Hours of operation run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day and as more supplies become available, announcements will be made via the Emergency Alert System, the Lee County website and the county’s Facebook page.