Popular Fort Myers restaurant in ruins after Hurricane Ian
FORT MYERS, Fla. — As residents slowly return along Florida’s southwest coast to pick up the devastation left behind by Hurricane Ian, now-ruined businesses are left wondering how to care for their employees now left not just jobless, but in many cases a house.
The Fort Myers area was battered by winds of over 100 mph and record-breaking storm surge that flooded entire neighborhoods in several feet of water. The Salty Crab sat down on the waterfront and took a relentless punch from Ian.
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“Not only is our restaurant completely destroyed, but we have employees who have lost everything,” says Julia Cassino of Salty Crab Bar and Grill in Fort Myers.
She says she is grateful that the 78 employees are safe, but many are left with nothing.
“They ran for cover at the very last moment, and we have more than a dozen employees who at the moment only have the clothes on their backs,” Cassino told FOX Weather. “We are really feeling the effects of this horrible hurricane.”
Cassino says his restaurant’s team didn’t have a chance to physically examine the damage, relying on photos and video from the scene to piece together what’s left. “Essentially, nothing is salvageable,” she said.
The restaurant has 12 locations in Florida and is working to find displaced employees in nearby counties.
“We have a really great group, and we’re lucky our team can alleviate some of that stress for our employees,” Cassino said. “Right now it’s short-term goals: it’s about making sure you have a bed, making sure you have food. And the next step is making sure you have a job so you can have that income so you can start this process of rebuilding your own private life.”
A GoFundMe site has also been created where all profits will be divided among the 78 employees to help them start over.
“It’s catastrophic what our team is going through,” she said. “I don’t think you ever really anticipated the damage we’re seeing. It’s like we could never have prepared. One of the worst things about living in the state of Florida is the possibility of hurricanes and the damage caused by that, but I will say we are Floridians; we are resilient.”