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West Michigan couple combing through destroyed Florida home

"There's a finality. It's almost like going to visitation at a funeral," said Steve Lesky, seeing the wreckage of their Florida dream home.

OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. — Steve and Sue Lesky of Holland finally finished their vacation home in Englewood, Florida in April. After waiting years for a place to open for sale in Sue's brother's mobile home park, they scooped it up and spent two years renovating it. 

"Just always it was a secret dream to be able to have a place in Florida," said Sue, "And it came true."

However, that dream was flattened last week by Hurricane Ian.

"There is sheet metal wrapped in trees," said Steve, "Some of our stuff is at the other end of the neighborhood."

Credit: Steve Lesky
Steve took this photo to show what is left of their Florida home after Hurricane Ian.

The couple drove down from Holland this weekend to assess the damage and clean up their Florida home. 

Sue said about 80% of the homes in the neighborhood were marked with orange tags from the county saying, "Unsafe, do not enter or occupy." 

"We don't even have a front door to put that on," said Sue, "So they slapped it on our mailbox post, because the mailbox is just gone, too."

Credit: 13 OYS
Steve shows us the "Unsafe" notice on their mailbox post. They did not have a door left standing to put it on.

Steve said they had been watching the weather and hurricane's path from Michigan. When it took a turn to the east, they knew it would be a problem. After the storm hit, a neighbor in Florida called them to tell them the bad news. 

"There's a finality," said Steve, "It's almost like going to visitation at a funeral."

The clean-up process has been a challenge, however. Steve said without electricity and water, they are limited to daylight hours working in the hot sun. 

Still, that is not the hardest part. 

"Every so often, you lift something up and you see something that is destroyed that meant something," said Steve, "And you have those moments. You just keep moving on, one step in front of the other."

Still, the couple say they are thankful to be safe. 

They both praised local volunteers, as well as people who have travelled to help in the clean up effort. 

"It's easy to get cynical, but then something like this happens," said Stevey. "A young lady yesterday came by, and she had survivor's remorse. Her house didn't get touched. And she said, I don't know why, but I have to help. We went to one of the local distribution points a little bit ago to get lunch, they were handing out free food. She said, 'I don't need an explanation, how many meals you need?' And her neighborhood was destroyed. Her house is right there, and she's handing out food to other people."

For now, Steve and Sue are not sure what the future holds for their Florida home. They're taking it "hour by hour," trying not to make any big decisions while in crisis mode. 

RELATED VIDEO: Hurricane Ian | Michigan natives riding out the storm

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