‘Everything is damaged’: Osceola County family struggles after losing home to Hurricane Ian

Kissimmee, Florida. –An Osceola County family struggles to stay afloat after Hurricane Ian hits, flooding the family’s home in the process.

It was hard for Leanne Criswell to hold back tears looking at her Kissimmee home, which she had dreamed of having with husband Kenneth Williams and eight children.

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“Me and my husband were, like, both downtown, and…” Criswell said as she began to cry. “We worked for years to get here. When we had kids, we decided we wanted a certain lifestyle for them.

The family had moved into the house last October. However, this lifestyle they worked for was swept away by Ian.

“There is mold everywhere. There is – everything is damaged,” Criswell said.

Floodwaters crept into their home last Thursday, forcing the family to rush out of the house and leave their belongings behind.

“All the hopes and all the visions and all the dreams, that’s what makes me cry right now,” she said. “Because, like, my two oldest daughters, that’s their trailers there, and (they) literally just finished the renovation.”

“We thought the water would rise and maybe flood the grass, but we never thought it would rise to the level it has reached,” said Kenneth Williams.

The family said they don’t know how much longer their budget will last. Currently they are in an Airbnb and rely on one source of income.

“If anyone knows someone with some form of housing that can be a bit more long-term, maybe month-to-month or something, that would help,” Criswell said. “Really, whatever, like honestly, we left with the clothes on our backs.”

“We wait three, four, five days later as our finances run out. Like, we don’t know what’s next,” Williams said. “I just worry about my kids. In the 27 years that we’ve been together, we’ve never really put them in such a predicament. But they smile. They take it stealthily. »

Despite having lost everything, the family finds comfort in reuniting.

“We are a positive family. It’s sad, but we’ve come here being the family that we are,” Criswell said.

A family friend organized a GoFundMe fundraiser to help them get back on their feet. Anyone interested in helping can visit the GoFundMe by clicking here.

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