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Drone pilot shows homeowners the extent of damage on Sanibel Island

Jonathan Warren has spent the last few days taking a jet ski near the island, launching his drone and capturing images to share with homeowners on Sanibel Island.

SANIBEL, Fla. — For so many people who live on Sanibel and Captiva islands, since Hurricane Ian, they haven't been able to see the full scope of damage to their property. 

Ian made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane, destroying the communities in its path. 

A local photographer and drone pilot is helping homeowners on the island get a glimpse at what was left behind. 

"Some areas of the island have actually been wiped out completely," Jonathan Warren, CEO and main drone pilot of Suncoast Aerials, said. "They were typically on stilts. Those stilts have been wiped out and the homes toppled over and it looks like a complete disaster zone, unfortunately."

Warren has spent the last few days commuting from his home in Sarasota to Lee County, getting on a jet ski, riding toward the islands and putting his drone in the sky from the water. 

There is only one way to access Sanibel and Captiva islands — the Sanibel Causeway. It was destroyed by Hurricane Ian. For Warren, with so much destruction, he's puzzle-piecing together where homes once stood.

"Using google maps, specifically, satellite imagery and that can really help me see what it looked like beforehand," Warren explained.

Many of the people he's helping are Florida's snowbirds. What they'll return to is unrecognizable. 

"When I first saw the island, I had goosebumps," Warren said. "It's very, very sad. But there's a lot of destruction. Roofs are ripped off, windows blown out, doors are blown out and it's very sad to see."

Warren is also working with churches and other organizations needing a better assessment of the damage. The drone videos he provides help people plan their next steps. 

He plans to continue offering drone video for free or whatever people can pay until his services are no longer needed. 

"We are working through this together to try to help as much as we can," Warren said.

You can reach him at 941-400-1227 or by emailing jon@suncoastaerials.com.

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