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Hurricane Ian's decimation in Southwest Florida truly devastating when seen by boat

WPTV news crew captures cars underwater, docks ripped up, mobile home park destroyed
Damage from Hurricane Ian to a mobile home park in Bonita Beach on Oct. 7, 2022.jpg
Posted at 9:49 AM, Oct 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-07 09:49:45-04

BONITA BEACH, Fla. — As people and businesses work to pick up the pieces in the wake of Hurricane Ian, many Floridians are anxious to get back on the water.

Bay Water Boat Club in Bonita Beach is getting boats back into the water. Some are in really good condition, while others have been tossed around and sunk.

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Omar Botana knew he had to get his boats out of the water before Hurricane Ian slammed Southwest Florida.

"If you keep them in the water, then you destroy your docks. And if you destroy your docks, you’re out of business," Botana said.

What Botana could have never imagined was just how far those boats would travel.

"It was pretty bad. One of the worst, I think," Botana said. "It was a real circus."

The powerful storm surge pushed boats onto the street, onto islands, and deep into the mangroves.

"These hurricanes, they’re monsters. And when they say evacuate, please evacuate," Botana said. "I walked away from my business. My life is more important and my family than boats and business."

But this cleanup is just the beginning.

Botana's son, Derrick, took WPTV out on the water Thursday to see the heartbreaking reality of the storm's aftermath.

Debris could be seen everywhere in Estero Bay, including beds, chairs, and tables tangled up in the mangroves. Cars were underwater, docks were ripped up, and a mobile home park was decimiated.

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"It was one of the first structures here on Bonita Beach and it’s a real shame to see the condition that it’s in," Derrick Botana said. "It’s kind of historical there. A lot of original trailers there. It was the perfect trailer on the bay."

Back at Bay Water Boat Club, Omar Botana is taking the cleanup in stride.

"The surge was so high, you are talking probably 14 feet of water," Botana said. "It went over the top of the pilings and it’s like a ski jump now."

One day at a time to get back on the water.

"We won’t quit until it’s done," Botana said.

Botana expects it will be about three to four weeks before they are really back to normal out here and it's safe to be on the water.

Botana is still taking inventory, but right now, he said Bay Water Boat Club lost at least two boats. The company has about 30 still in storage.

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