(FOX 9) - Shelly Reiner bought a second home on Sanibel Island 30 years ago because of its simple lifestyle. So watching the scenes of devastation caused by Hurricane Ian from afar in Minnesota is tough to take.
"It's very traumatic. It's upsetting. The beaches are changed, they're destroyed. The vegetation looks like it went through a meat grinder. Anything that was foliage is sticks," said Reiner.
The North Oaks resident says Ian left her two-story townhouse with several blown-out windows and damage to the roof and siding. But parts of the only road on and off the island were washed away by the storm and so far residents who evacuated haven't been allowed back to see what's left of their homes for themselves.
"Homeowners want to get out there, assess the damage, take pictures and depart. Or get valuables or medications. In the meantime, it's very difficult to access the island," said Reiner.
Reiner says residents will be allowed to go to the island once for 12 hours on Wednesday, but they have to find their own way there.
She says renting a boat for the short journey has become a pricey proposition.
"Some boaters are increasing costs to go out there. It's not very far, maybe a mile. Nobody has a boat and they aren't offering ferries or barges," said Reiner.
Reiner plans to travel to Sanibel in a few weeks to secure her townhome from the elements to prevent any further damage.
But she believes it will be years before she's able to repair her property and call it 'Home Sweet Home' again.
"I know they'll rebuild and I know things will get back to normal. Just not in the timeframe most people expect," said Reiner.
The Lee County Sheriff says authorities are working to offer a temporary ferry service, but there's no timeline on when that will happen.
In the meantime, Reiner hopes Minnesotans who live in the area and own a boat will volunteer their services to help residents get to the island.