EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A former Rhode Island lawmaker tells 12 News he hasn’t been able to leave his southwest Florida home for three days due to street flooding from Hurricane Ian.
Former state Sen. John Pagliarini hunkered down and ended up in the hurricane’s direct path. He said despite living through Rhode Island winters, Ian is the worst storm he’s ever seen.
“The noise during the storm was incredible,” he said. “It was very unnerving because very, very frequently the emergency broadcast alarm would come on the phone saying, ‘get in your safe room, tornado, 100 mile per hour winds.'”
The 130 mph winds left concrete roofs in pieces and caused doors to cave in. The foot of rain flooding homes and streets forced Pagliarini to stay put.
Pagliarini moved to Suzy Beach, Florida, a couple of years ago, located 30 miles north of Fort Myers. He compared the vast difference in natural disasters faced by Rhode Island and Florida, saying this storm beats anything he’s ever seen.
“This is is akin to the Blizzard of ’78 as far as, you’re isolated, you’re with your neighbors, you’re self-helping,” he said. “The nor’easters and everything, they don’t compare. This was incredible to actually ride out.”
Pagliarini said people just 10 miles down the road from him lost everything.
“We know people in Fort Myers who don’t have a house anymore,” he said.
Pagliarini said the important part is that everyone in his family and in his primarily elderly community is safe, despite having to recover from the historic storm.
He said his family’s priority now is helping their neighbors salvage their belongings and clear debris from their yards.
“We’ve been going in and helping them take their wet rugs out to dry,” he said. “We found one drain that was actually working and we spent hours … just trying to keep it unclogged so the water would go down.”
Pagliarini said the street flooding in his neighborhood is slowly receding, and he’s hoping that he will be able to drive on them this weekend.