Florida National Guard rescues hundreds from flooded homes, ferries supplies to those stranded

ORLANDO, Fla. — Some people are desperate for basic supplies in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, and because of the flooding, they still can’t leave their homes.

Reporter Blair Miller spent the day with rescuers in Arcadia, near Fort Myers, to see how they are helping those people.

He embedded with the Florida National Guard, which is using boats and trucks to get supplies to people who are stranded and desperately in need of food and water.


Lt. Joseph Erbrick is a Guardsmen who has been in Arcadia for four days, helping with the response.

“There are a lot of sections that were cut off, and we set up some points of distribution sites that were ferrying commodities back and force to people,” he said.

It’s basic needs like food and water that’s filling up the military vehicles.

Read: ‘We lost everything’: 55+ Osceola County community told they won’t return home anytime soon

They took Miller with them as they moved the loaded vehicles from one spot to the next, while crossing roads flooded with waters three to four feet deep.

On the sides of the roads, we saw washed out streets where cars were destroyed.

Once the troops crossed the flooded road, they were met by a line of cars that stretched at least half a mile with people hoping to get some food.

Read: ‘It’s been devastating’: Volusia 55+ community reeling from Hurricane Ian damage

“It’s been hard. This is my first hurricane alone because it’s my son and I,” resident Amelia Robbins said. “My parents have been stuck on the other side of the river so they can’t even make it to us.”

This is just one part of what these troops are doing in the Fort Myers area.

The Florida National Guard also showed us how they’re sending air crews over some of the hardest hit areas, where more people are still stranded.

Read: Floodwaters continue to rise in Osceola County

That includes looking for people who didn’t survive and hearing the stories of devastation.

Sgt. Jarred Magaha told Miller how hard it has been to hear those stories.

“It’s humbling seeing the reactions. These are people whose lives quite literally have been turned upside down and just changed forever,” he said.

The U.S. Coast Guard has also been assisting with rescues.

As of Monday, the U.S. Coast Guard had rescued 644 people -- 261 of them by air.

All of this is still overwhelming for residents like Debbie Taylor, who says her community is struggling.

“It’s devastating, and it’s bad everywhere,” she said.

There are about 5,400 National Guard troops in Florida.

Click here to download the free WFTV news and weather apps, click here to download the WFTV Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.

Jason Kelly

Jason Kelly, WFTV.com

Jason Kelly joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2014. He serves as the station's Digital Executive Producer.