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A Fort Myers Beach Couple Struggles With Heartache, and Insurance

Amy Lazzell and her husband, Robert, had made preparations thinking that Hurricane Ian, based on earlier predictions, would track north, sparing their home on Fort Myers Beach. They stocked up on drinking water, coolers of ice and nonperishable food. Their elevated house had been reinforced with hurricane-resistant impact glass. They thought they were prepared.

Instead, the couple found themselves at the center of what Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, on Friday called “ground zero.”

Video taken by Ms. Lazzell just after the storm showed their second-story, turquoise-accented living room submerged in nearly three feet of floodwater. The water has since receded, but heartache has begun to set in.

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“I’ve been crying a lot,” said Ms. Lazzell, 54, a retired emergency-room nurse. “Today has been more emotional than yesterday.”

Since Wednesday, the couple have been stuck at home with their three puppies, trying to get by. With the power still out, they have been living on burgers from the freezer cooked on a gas grill. They have been sleeping on a mattress almost entirely waterlogged, save for the top layer. Mr. Lazzell guessed that they had about two days of drinking water left.

They heard from a neighbor about a food station being set up at a grocery store about a mile away, but it was only a rumor. “We don’t know what’s true or not,” Ms. Lazzell said as the sound of search and rescue helicopters whirred in the background.

But they say their biggest headache in the aftermath of the storm has been dealing with their insurance companies. Mr. Lazzell said that, like many people in Florida, they had to buy separate insurance plans for their cars and home. And now, the companies were pointing fingers at one another, trying to pass on responsibility.

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“When you’re sitting here with no electricity and no running water, and you don’t even know if your neighbors are alive or not, and you have to deal with this — it’s been a major disappointment,” said Mr. Lazzell, 64, a retired military veteran. “We could just use a little help.”

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