2 years after Irma, Immokalee cancer survivor finds joy in her community built home

In Immokalee, we find an inspiring Hurricane Irma story of one family finding sunshine after the storm.

The sun shines down on Deborah Coe’s new home and the life she has built. The Fuschia flower now blossoms between the leaves that endured the trauma of the Category 3 hurricane when it made landfall.

“Hanging outside is a plant that belonged to my mother,” Coe said. The plant is all that remains before Irma destroyed her Immokalee home in 2017.

Deborah Coe admires her mother's Staghorn plant growing in her front yard. It's one of the only things Coe could save before Irma destroyed her Immokalee home in September of 2017. (Credit: WINK News)
Deborah Coe admires her mother’s Staghorn plant growing in her front yard. It’s one of the only things Coe could save before Irma destroyed her Immokalee home in September of 2017. (Credit: WINK News)

Irma brought water in and the wind tore off the back end of the home. When they returned to find the house in its dilapidated state, tears were streaming down her mother’s face.

“It’s a scary thing because you find yourself homeless,” Coe said. “Just shortly after that, I found out I had cancer.”

As Coe lived in hotels and battled cancer, she saw several organizations, including the Guadalupe Center and the Habitat for Humanity, along with many volunteers, come together to build her the house.

It is a gift that brought Coe tears of joy as it helps her heart deal from the powerful storm. Now, the woman inspiring people is making dinner and new memories in her new home.

“Hurricane Irma was a bad storm, but good things came out of it,” Coe said. “Blessings and this is one of them.”

Reporter:Melinda Lee
Writer:Michael Mora
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