Florida small business owner Alexandra Fasulo is seeking asylum for her Pine Island and Matlacha neighbors after Hurricane Ian unexpectedly left her community in shambles with nearly nothing left.
Fasulo, dubbed as The Freelance Fairy on Instagram, has resided on the small island of Matlacha off the state’s coast since spring 2021 but some of her neighbors she passed while on daily walks have resided there for 35 years or more.
Damp furniture and moldy clothes were all that was left after the almost Category Five Hurricane Ian hit the community on September 28 – leaving more than 125 in the state dead.
‘We were not told it was going to make landfall in Matlacha,’ Fasulo told DailyMail.com. ‘Certain people I’ve passed on my walks and runs have died.’
The once vibrant city with exotic and bright colors shaping the town was left wrecked with rubbish filling the area where homes once sat.
Residents were able to go back to the island more than a week after the horrid hurricane struck.
The bridge that linked the mainland to the island was torn down and local fisherman were volunteering their time and boats to help residents collect what was left of their belongings while saying goodbye to the remains of their homes as uncertainty lingered.
‘I cried a lot,’ Fasulo recalled seeing her community for the first time after the storm and the fishermen that helped her neighbors.
After grabbing three trash bags of goods from her home that weren’t covered in mold, Fasulo decided to use her influencer status to help her community rebuild their lives.
Florida small online business owner Alexandra Fasulo is seeking help for her Pine Island and Matlacha neighbors after Hurricane Ian devastated the community
The once vibrant city with exotic and bright colors shaping the town was left wrecked with rubbish filling the area where homes once sat
Fasulo returned to her home days after the hurricane by the help of local fisherman after the main road to Matlacha and Pine Island was in ruins
Fasulo left her home ahead of Hurricane Ian hitting Matlacha Island last month. The community didn’t expect the hurricane to hit there
Photos Fasulo took while back on the island were of devastated homes with some being knocked down after the nearly Category 5 hurricane
The colorful community was left in ruins following the horrific storm. Some people died on the island after staying as the storm played out
Some homes were seen completely knocked down as home doors laid flat
Remains of homes were tossed throughout the street, including tree branches
Some islanders hurried to gather what was left of their belongings
Local fishermen sought to help island residents get to their homes after the islands main road was demolished during the storm
Local stores and restaurants were found in scraps while some houses remained standing
Restaurants and stores with nothing left were seen ‘swept out to sea’
Tents were set up across the town as first responders helped residents and searched for survivors
Homes were seen swept into the street. One person is seen above walking through the ruins
One house is pictured still standing while others didn’t share the same fate
Matlacha and Pine Island are continued to be left without electricity along with 16,233 others along Florida’s west coast
A majority of Hurricane Ian’s victims are in Florida as the tropical storm as the third-deadliest to hit the mainland and the largest to hit southwest Florida as winds reached 150 mph.
Research suggested that a third and half of people who live through a disaster will develop either post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety, according to AP.
Fasulo recalled the trauma seeping as she fled along with a handful of others to charge her phone after the hurricane at one of the only stops with power, Millennial Brewing Company in Fort Myers.
‘It looked like a scene from a movie of people with holes in their clothes while charging their phones and staring at the wall,’ she said.
Some of Fasulo’s neighbors decided to stay home when the hurricane landed in Florida. The community didn’t anticipate the extent of the devastating storm that was unpredicted to hit Matlacha.
Residents only grabbed enough to fit what they could in an overnight bag as they anticipated heading back into their cozy tight knit community the next day. Fasulo spent the night of the hurricane in Cape Coral with family.
Little did residents know they would be returning to homes either fully demolished or without roofs as mold would’ve also infiltrated throughout the remains of their goods by the time, they made it back a few days later.
‘There were layers of sludge,’ Fasulo said while describing what was left of her home.
Fasulo witnessed her neighbors tossing their furniture in their yards as they determined what was salvageable and not.
‘If I can go back in time, I’d grab all my books,’ she said.
Matlacha and Pine Island are continued to be left without electricity along with 16,233 others along Florida’s west coast.
The uncertainty of what will happen to the community is uncertain as local officials tread unknown territory.
Homes were seen sinking below the water
One former restaurant was partially broken down while the other half remained
Many locals were pitching in to help each other through the difficult time
Fasulo returned to her home but was only able to grab about three trash bags filled with her belongings
Mold quickly covered a majority of books and other household products
Fasulo said that if she knew the hurricane would hit her home, she would’ve taken her books
Pictured: a book filed with mud as most goods were unable to be saved
A boot was seen covered in mold as Fasulo toured her house to pick up what she could
The floor was covered completely in mud and Fasulo had to abandon the shoes she wore to recover her belongings on the island
As residents on Florida’s coast continue to rebuild their lives, Fasulo has sought to help raise $100,000 for those in Matlacha and Pine Island as many lost either their homes, businesses, cars or entire livelihood.
‘I have my own online business, so I’ll be okay,’ Fasulo said. ‘It’s the people that don’t and the store owners of 35 years.’
Fasulo explained many of her neighbors lived in trailers or double-wides that are uninsured.
‘They have nothing left,’ Fasulo wrote on the online fundraiser campaign. ‘No belongings, no place to sleep. They are struggling to find basic supplies, food, necessities for living. Their businesses are gone.’
As uncertainty fills the air, the proceeds will go to the Matlacha Hookers, a local community organization.
More than $6,000 has been raised as of October 10.
Aside from Fasulo’s efforts, Florida officials are setting up a 24-hour distress helpline and support center to provide support to residents in distress, according to AP.