That’s the word from Father William Adams who, along with the Poor Clare nuns, was on the church campus at 6025 Estero Boulevard when Hurricane Ian ripped their buildings apart. Everyone who stayed through the storm at the property survived.
The home on the property, where Father Adams lived, was also destroyed leaving him with only the clothes on his back. He told Beach Talk Radio News he found out this week that even though the church was deemed structurally sound, repairs far exceed FEMA’s 50% rule, and the buildings (the Church, the Church Hall, the Monastery Chapel and offices) need to be demolished. He says that will happen in the next few months. The church did have insurance and was covered for catastrophic loss.
The Monastery, home to the Poor Clare nuns, was a total loss. The nuns have been on Fort Myers Beach since 1988. They are cloistered, a secluded life to foster intense prayer. The nuns do not minister outside their residence but dedicate their lives to contemplation and prayer for others. According to Sister Mary Frances the nuns will not ever be returning to Fort Myers Beach. All of their prayer cards were washed away in the storm and they lost all of their computers.
Today the church property is completely fenced in and locked. Father Adams says the facilities were looted in the days after the storm. It’s impossible to predict how long it will take the church to be rebuilt. Like everyone else on the island the church will go through the various phases of rebuild, from tearing the structure down, to designing and planning the new building, permitting and construction. Father Adams says he’ll be following the model of a church in Pine Key which had to be torn down after Hurricane Irma. He says that process took four years.
There are no services being held for church members because the parking lot floods all the time. Adams is sending members to St. Leo’s in Bonita.
Father Adams says there was 18 feet of storm surge in his home and he expects to be living in a trailer for at least another year.