Utah man travels back to Florida to assist with hurricane clean up efforts

Oct 21, 2022, 2:51 PM | Updated: 2:53 pm

ALPINE, Utah — When Winston and Addison Sorhaitz moved to Fort Myers, Florida with their young daughter five months ago, they never expected to endure an extremely violet hurricane.

The couple from Alpine, Utah relocated to Florida for Winston’s medical residency program. The week of the hurricane they stocked up on food, water and emergency supplies.

“We talked to a bunch of locals who did not seem to be worried at the time so we followed their lead. Went to the grocery store to get what we needed,” Addison Sorhaitz said.

Winston Sorhaitz. (Sorhaitz family) Hurricane Ian destruction Hurricane Ian destruction Hurricane Ian destruction Hurricane Ian flooding and destruction Hurricane Ian destruction Hurricane Ian destruction Hurricane Ian destruction Hurricane Ian destruction Hurricane Ian destruction Hurricane Ian destruction Hurricane Ian destruction Hurricane Ian destruction Hurricane Ian destruction Hurricane Ian destruction Hurricane Ian destruction Hurricane Ian destruction Hurricane Ian destruction Winston and Addison Sorhaitz moved to Fort Myers, Florida from Utah and then witnessed the destruction of Hurricane Ian. (Sorhaitz family)

The family planned to hunker down in their third floor apartment until, at the last minute, a friend offered to pick them up and take them to shelter at a local school further inland.

“It was like nine hours of feeling like you were in a blender. It was just chaos,” Addison Sorhaitz said about the storm’s 140 mph winds. “Then when it was finally over, what we saw was devastating. I can’t even explain the feeling besides apocalyptic.”

Sorhaitz said they drove around town to see what damage Hurricane Ian left behind and were shocked by what they witnessed.

“The road we live on was covered in boats, somehow the storm surge was able to lift these huge fishing and sailing boats and pull them all the way inland where we were,” she said.

Without electricity, clean water and with the local hospital where her husband worked now closed, the family traveled to Utah to stay with family. On Sunday, her husband made the decision to travel back to Fort Myers to help as clean up efforts continue. He was also called back into work now that the local hospital reopened.

“He has been assisting with the Helping Hands community. They have been repairing a lot of roofs, repairing a lot of fences, making sure people are safe,” Addison Sorhaitz said.

She does know when or if it will be safe to return to live in the coastal city again, but she is grateful her husband is there doing what he can to help those in need.

“I miss him a lot and I wish we could be helping out on the ground together. But he is helping people with medical issues, he has the skill set that they need so I’d rather him be nowhere else.”

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Utah man travels back to Florida to assist with hurricane clean up efforts