Families still displaced from Hurricane Ian for Thanksgiving holiday

While most families will be celebrating Thanksgiving with their families, many people in the Orlo Vista community of Orlando are still displaced and trying to pick up the pieces after Hurricane Ian.

When Fox 35 first spoke with Ja’net Buford-Johnson several weeks ago, she was already thinking about the holidays.

"My mom died 20 years ago. Nineteen years ago on October the 6th. Her biggest holiday was Thanksgiving. And this was the hardest because we would do everything here, so it’s not easy," Buford-Johnson said.

Now, that time is here, and Buford Johnson’s home on Ronnie Circle in Orlo Vista is still unlivable.

"We’re homeless basically. We don’t have our own anymore," she said.

It’s been almost two months since Buford-Johnson has been able to live at her home. The home is destroyed by flooding from Hurricane Ian.

"I normally would be cooking right now. I’d probably have this laid up with a bunch of pies," Buford-Johnson said.

This Thanksgiving, she doesn’t have a kitchen to cook or a home for her family to gather.

She and her daughter have been staying with family while they wait to repair their home. She said celebrating Thanksgiving this year doesn’t feel right. 

"I really don’t know if I want to be around people right now because I feel like a fish out of water so to speak," Buford-Johnson said.

She is not the only person in the community in need. Volunteers with the non-profit, Central Florida Mutual Aid, dropped off groceries to families in Orlo Vista.

"They’re used to being at home cooking for their families. They don’t have that now. They have no home to go to, so we want to do whatever we can to make it as festive as possible if that is possible," Robin Harris, a volunteer with Central Florida Mutual Aid, said.

People dropped off vegetables, bread, and bottled water. It’s not a typical Thanksgiving meal, but it’s something, and Buford-Johnson knows this Thanksgiving, she’s at least thankful for her and her daughter’s lives.

"God has a bigger plan for us. I know," she said.

Buford-Johnson said she received some money from FEMA, but it’s not enough to completely repair the home. She said she would need about $20,000 more, and right now, she doesn’t know where she will get that money.