These people spent years working towards their dream homes. Hurricane Ian swept them away in less than 24 hours.

Childhood sweethearts Laurel and Ian Avery-DeWitt devoted years to saving so they could leave Wisconsin and get their Florida dream home, a tiny bright yellow house with Caribbean blue doors that quickly earned the nickname “Casa Banana”. did. Then Hurricane Ian came, and blew up their roof “like a zip.”

Category 4 hurricane His Port Charlotte home was destroyed as it razed southwest Florida. Videos showed roads and neighborhoods being moved several feet ahead of the ocean and buildings affected by powerful winds.

Couple’s “Casa Banana” dream home in Florida reduced to rubble during Hurricane Ian


Avery-Davits spent 50 years in the Midwest before moving to the region in 2012. He set up a “little oasis” in his backyard, which he shared with his sons, Max, corgis, and Maine Coon cats. Now, it’s all in shambles.

Ian and Max saw the house first. While they were driving, they were hoping it would be fine because the road didn’t look too bad.

“Then we got to the point, ‘Oh, wait a minute. Where’s our house?’ and ‘Whose house is that?’ … and then it hit me that, oh, this is ours,” Ian told CBS News. “It’s much smaller than before. … The large window in front had lost the top two shutters and we could see inside. You could see the blue sky through the shutters where the kitchen and dining room were.”

Laurel and Ian Avery-DeWitt’s home in Port Charlotte, Florida, after being hit by Hurricane Ian.

Laurel and Ian Avery-DeWitt

Laurel didn’t go there until later. When she saw the house of her dreams, she was only crying.

“It was heartbreaking to go home that day. I can’t even describe how it feels to see your life spread across your yard and the interior of your home, to look up and see you have a blue sky and nothing more,” Laurel told CBS News over the weekend. “…it’s all gone.”

The family evacuated the house before the storm, but their neighbor saw what happened.

Laurel said, “The guys behind us said half of our roof landed in their backyard. They said it came out like a zipper… like you’re ripping a box up,” Laurel said .

Two items of note remained intact among the rubble – a sugar bowl that has been with his family since 1835 and a sign that hung outside their home that read “It’s just another day in heaven.” The first thing he did was put this sign on his house when he moved in.

She said the damage was a “worst case scenario”. and it happened during a default in their home insurance, She said that her insurance company had canceled her policy last year without any warning. They recently acquired and paid for new coverage, but it doesn’t kick in until October 21.

Laurel and her husband are both in their late 50s. They managed to get debt-free on their home, but she said they were still working and didn’t have nearly enough savings to cover the cost of rebuilding, especially after the pandemic. Laurel’s sister has started a GoFundMe to help her in her recovery efforts.

“You hear about things like this and you never think it’s going to happen to you. Never,” she said. “It shatters your world.”

“I’m kind of starting from zero”

A few hours away, in Key West, Tyler Martin is facing a similar fate—only his home was also his sailboat, which he’d been working on improving for more than five years with every spare time and every spare cent. Had been. He was just six weeks away from a long-awaited sail to Bocas del Toro, Panama – a place where, he said, there are no storms.

Tyler Martin has been a longtime sailboat captain in Key West, whose home, a sailboat, was destroyed by Hurricane Ian.

Tyler Martin

Martin, who runs BlueSail Vacation Yachts and Sailing Academy with his close friend Scott Meyer, was hiding in a marina when Hurricane Ian unleashed his stormtrooper boom on the Keys. His sailboat was on the boat stand out of the water when the boom occurred.

“Overnight, it just got more tense,” Meyer told CBS News. “… I think it was 2 or 3 in the morning, and you could see it in his face and his eyes, he knew his boat was not going to sail.”

“I knew my boat was going to die … and there was nothing I could do about it,” said Martin, noting that the storm surge coincided with the king’s tide, making the water level “the highest of the year.” ” done.

“No matter how many times I tried to pitch the boat and tighten them, the waves were just coming and just knocking them down. And it got to the point where it was too dangerous to be there and I just had to Had to back up and I just accepted the inevitable that the ocean was going to take it.”

A Key West sailor was weeks away from a dream trip. Then Hurricane Ian crushed his house.


When he went to see his boat in the morning – in which he had put years of blood, sweat and all his savings – the mast was broken and the bulkheads were crushed. It was “torn and crushed” lying on its side on rocks.

“My whole life was geared towards finishing the boat. I had big plans and dreams and all of a sudden it seems that is not going to happen anymore,” he said.

For Martin it was a devastating blow. He has been living on sailboats since 2008 and in Key West since 2015. He doesn’t have many personal belongings, but what he did have – photographs, letters and small mementos – are all soaked in diesel fuel. Now homeless, he has “a bag full of clothes and that’s all.”

“I’m starting from scratch,” he said in a calm and collected tone, “but I have my life. I have my friends and my health. I still have a bright future ahead.”

Meyer started a GoFundMe for Martin, who he described as “the kind of guy who negatively affects him, if he can help you, he’ll take the shirt off his own,” without asking for anything in return. will be removed from the back”.

Despite everything, Martin says she is inspired for a new chapter in her life, and is grateful for the community that has worked so hard to help her and the home after the storm.

“There are hundreds of people in the state of Florida who have lost everything, but there is no one to hold them. No one is there to give them a roof over their heads. And so I consider myself really lucky.”

He still plans to move to Panama, eventually, and his love for the ocean hasn’t diminished even remotely.

“It’s like medicine, it’s like medicine on water,” he said. “… you’re gonna face storms, you’ll be faced with bad weather… but if you overcome them, you get over it, you feel accomplished, you live with yourself and the world and Learn a lot about the people around you.”

He can only move forward – the same plan that Avery-DeWits is devised for.

“We don’t plan to leave. We’re going to rebuild,” Laurel said. “… ‘Casa Banana’ will be alive again. And Tiki Garden will be alive again and we’ll be playing Jimmy Buffett and everything.”

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