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Documentary film shares first-hand look at Hurricane Ian's destruction, stories of survival

"Price of Paradise: Surviving Hurricane Ian" will be screened at the Sunscreen Film Festival in St. Petersburg on Friday.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — We're nearly a month away from hurricane season, but for many in Florida, the devastation of Hurricane Ian is still felt every day.

Now, a local documentary filmmaker who saw the destruction in Ft. Myers firsthand is sharing what we can all learn from one of the most powerful storms to strike the gulf coast.

Jonathan Petramala of St. Petersburg is a writer and producer of "The Price of Paradise: Surviving Hurricane Ian," and one of the documentary's three creators.

"I think it's a film, honestly, that's going to save lives," Petramala said. "It introduces to people one of the most dangerous parts of hurricanes, which isn't the wind, it's the water. Water kills people more than any other part of a hurricane." 

During Hurricane Ian, Ft. Myers Beach suffered one of the most devastating storm surges in history, and Petramala has it all on camera. 

"Something like that has never really been seen before. People hear that there's a storm surge warning, but it's one thing to hear that there's a storm surge warning and it's another thing to actually see it," Petramala said. 

Through various survival stories shared in the documentary, Petramala hopes his neighbors in the Tampa Bay area recognize the importance of knowing your flood zone and evacuating when necessary. 

"We here in Tampa Bay are in the most dangerous place in the world, really, when it comes to storm surge. If this same storm had hit here in Tampa Bay, it would easily be the most catastrophic hurricane to ever hit the United States," Petramala said. 

The documentary shares the messages of those who lived through disaster and for others to consider when the next storm strikes. 

"I've covered disasters throughout the entire country. No single human being I've spoken with after a hurricane or after a disaster has said to me, 'I'm glad I stayed.'"  

"The Price of Paradise" will air Friday, April 28 during the Sunscreen Film Festival in St. Petersburg. There are still tickets available. 

Petramala said he and his team and working on a streaming deal that will allow more of us to watch the film at home. He said those plans will be finalized by June 1, the start of hurricane season.

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