TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — 8 On Your Side is getting results for a Tampa Bay couple four months after their home was destroyed by Hurricane Ian.
Hurricane Ian dropped massive amounts of rain in North Port, and flooding from the storm destroyed Patricia and Mike Bell’s home. They didn’t just lose the walls, floors and cabinets; they lost all of their memories. And insurance covered only a fraction of the cost of repairs, the couple said.
“It’s just really kind of devastating,” Mike said.
“I have not handled it as well as he has, I’m much more emotional, and he’s listened to me cry a lot,” said Patricia.
The Bells needed temporary housing while they made repairs. They applied for a temporary FEMA trailer, but the process was frustrating and slow.
“They said your temporary housing eligibility is over. And we never had temporary housing with them, ever,” Patricia recalled.
For months, the couple was living out of a suitcase, draining their savings and running out of hope. With nowhere to turn, they called 8 On Your Side for help.
8 On Your Side called FEMA to make sure Patricia was eligible to receive a trailer. They would not discuss Patricia’s case with us, citing privacy reasons.
We also put Patricia in touch with the Florida Division of Emergency Management, which provides trailers too.
Then we contacted the electric company and the city to learn about permitting and inspections.
After several weeks, the FEMA trailer arrived. It was locked and the windows were tinted.
“I don’t even care if you can’t see out as long as we have a place to stay,” Patricia said.
There were about a half dozen contractors on the site, hooking up utilities last week.
The trailer had to be inspected before they could move in. Patricia says Florida Power and Light has conducted their last inspection and she believes they’ll be able to move in sometime this week.
“The goodness that we have seen from humanity, the other people who have opened their homes to us, to Channel 8 who has, I told you, you are our hero Mahsa. I don’t know what we would have done without you because I honestly don’t think that we would be one step closer to even having a trailer here on this lot if it wasn’t for you,” Patricia said.
8 On Your Side will continue to follow their journey.