FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Hurricane Ian has devastated hundreds of thousands of people along the East Coast, including one family in Arkansas.
Braylin Powers rushed to Cabot from her Fayetteville home, then drove 24-hours with her mother to Fort Myers, Florida. Powers left as soon as she got the call from her mother that her grandmother needed help.
“My mom called me immediately and said, how fast can you get to Cabot? It’s like, now. Let me feed my dog, and I’ll be out the door,” said Powers.
Once getting to Fort Myers, Powers said it was hard to even describe what the damage looked like. She saw traffic backed up for hours, search and rescue teams zooming past them on the road and people running out of gas.
“Once we got to my aunt’s house, where my Mimi was staying, it looked like everybody’s lives were quite literally on the street, from their refrigerators to their pantries,” said Powers.
Powers’ grandmother, Deborah Mazzuca, went back to look at her home after the storm. She lost everything except for a couple of storage boxes worth of items. Water had gone up to couch level in her home. What’s worse was what was mixed in the water.
“At the time, they were doing construction on the building next door, so there were porta potties. When the hurricane hit, the porta potties went everywhere. So not only did it flood, it flooded with feces,” said Powers.
Mazzuca lost her job as well. She was a property manager, and all the properties she managed have been destroyed. She said this has been the worst hurricane she’s ever seen.
“I came to my daughter’s house with two tubs out of my two-bedroom condo, and I lost my car. It was just getting ready to get paid off. So it’s like yeah, I had nothing. I lost everything,” said Mazzuca.
She still doesn’t know if she lost friends in the hurricane.
“I feel sorry for my people that I know are back in Florida that don’t have families and nowhere to go. They’re living in their cars,” said Mazzuca.
To help her grandma, Powers scheduled a fitness class before she went down to bring her grandma back to Arkansas. The proceeds would help Mazzuca get back on her feet, but Powers had to leave before she could host the class.
She hosts fitness classes two times a week at the Horsebarn Park in Rogers and wants to schedule a class in the future with all the proceeds going to her grandma.
“I was like, what can I do to where the people who are donating feel like they’re getting something in return, and I was like, I’m a fitness coach. I can hold a drop-in class,” said Powers.
Deborah is now safe with Family in Cabot, and although she’s saddened by being forced out of her home, she’s grateful to have a family that could take her in, while so many others are still on the east coast, waiting for help to come.
“I know there’s a few of my friends that stayed that are still alive, but they were sitting on top of the roofs of their houses on the beach until they got rescued,” said Mazzuca.
Mazzuca’s family has started a GoFundMe to help with recovery expenses.