GEM distributes supplies, water in Fort Myers; Opa-Locka food truck serves residents of Naples

FORT MYERS, Fla. (WSVN) — A South Florida organization and a local food truck contributed to efforts supporting those in Fort Myers and Naples following the destruction caused by Hurricane Ian.

Friday afternoon, 7News cameras captured employees with Soul Town Mobile food truck serving the people of Naples.

In the middle of so much destruction, finding basic necessities like food and water can be an added stress.

That’s what compelled Michelle Wright and the rest of the Soul Town Mobile team to make the drive from Opa-Locka to the west coast.

“Food, it’s something we need. It’s something that brings everybody together,” said Wright. “The least we could do was give a plate or two out and help. Why not?”

In Fort Myers, the Global Empowerment Mission handed out supplies Friday morning, as residents woke up to the aftermath of the storm.

Food and water were distributed to those without shelter after their homes were demolished by the hurricane’s strong winds.

GEM was outside of the Next Level Church, as they handed out essentials for residents.

“We’re going to start where people are, which is rescue and relief,” said Pastor Matt Keller with Next Level Church.

The line of cars wrapped around the church’s parking lot, as recipients collected the items in an organized fashion.

Post-it notes were seen outside of each vehicle to indicate the number of people in each household.

“And so, where people are hopeless, we know there is hope. Where people are feeling anxious, we know that they don’t have to feel that way. They don’t have to worry,” said Keller.

In the long line of people waiting in their cars to receive food and water sat Tina Foster. The 66-year-old, who waited with her son and other loved ones, shared her escape story as the storm destroyed her home.

“There was a hotel across the street, the Tiki Hotel, and another house, and the roofs came and crashed into our building, and that’s when the water started to rise and come over in waves,” she said. “We climbed over the back of everything and jumped out of the window on the side of the house. We had life jackets on, thankfully. We floated over to a palm tree and hung on to that for a while and then managed to swim over to a roof.”

That roof, Foster said, collapsed.

“Then we went onto another roof, and we stayed on that roof for about three to four hours, when all the tornadoes were coming through,” she said. “You could hear the trains, like the tornado trains.”

“Oh, my goodness. It’s tragic, and yet we know there’s hope,” said Pastor Matt Keller with Next Level Church, “and the fact that she’s here in our line, we believe it’s providence.”

Hannah Deichler, who is engaged to Foster’s son, described how Foster was eventually brought to safety.

“Finally, she was able to get a phone and remember my fiancé’s phone number and texted him and said, ‘Ian, it’s Mom; I’m OK,’ and I started crying,” said Deichler.

Foster’s son confirmed his name is, indeed, Ian, and the family shared a laugh.

“Yes, that’s what we said,” said Deichler.

There are likely similar stories among those waiting for their boxes, as survivors receive food, water and some basic supplies.

The Flemings of Fort Myers evacuated with their 6-month-old and returned to their home to find mud-caked floors, a wrecked baby’s room, soaked furniture and an uncertain future.

“Just cry, take it all in. You can only control what you can,” said Michael Fleming. “We’re just grateful to be here, grateful to be alive and just help recover, help everyone get back to normal.”

Some of the items contained in the boxes handed out at Next Level Church are saltine crackers, socks, non-perishables, cleaning supplies, baby wipes and dehydration relief powder.

Hundreds of boxes were ready to be given to those residents.

“We’re, we’re local, and we’re going to keep serving our cities like this,” said Keller.

Foster was treated for cuts and bruises, but she said that the loss of her home has not “sunk in yet.”

“I’m so grateful, so grateful to be alive,” she said.

Wright said she and her colleagues served about 800 meals in Naples on Friday.

If you would like to help those affected by Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Fiona, more information can be found here.