‘Everything is damaged:’ Osceola County family of 10 struggles after losing home to Hurricane Ian

Family says they’re continuing to look for new home as finances deplete

An Osceola County family is struggling to stay afloat after Hurricane Ian passed through, flooding the family’s home in the process.

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – An Osceola County family is struggling to stay afloat after Hurricane Ian passed through, flooding the family’s home in the process.

It was difficult for Leanne Criswell to hold back tears as she looked at her Kissimmee home, which she had dreamed about having with her husband Kenneth Williams and eight children.

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“Me and my husband were, like, both from inner cities, and…” Criswell said as she started to cry. “We worked for years to get here. When we had kids, we decided we wanted a certain kind of lifestyle for them.”

The family had moved into the home last October. However, that lifestyle they worked for was washed out by Ian.

“There’s mold everywhere. There’s — everything is damaged,” Criswell said.

Floodwaters creeped into their home last Thursday, making the family rush out of the house and leaving their belongings behind.

“All the hopes and all the visions and all the dreams, that’s what makes me cry right now,” she said. “Because, like, my two oldest daughters, those are their trailers back there, and (they) literally just finished renovating.”

“We considered water would come up and maybe flood the grass, but we never considered that it would rise to the level that it did,” Kenneth Williams said.

The family said they don’t know how much longer their budget will hold up. Currently, they’re at an Airbnb and depend on one source of income.

“If anybody knows of anybody with any form of housing that can be a little more long term, maybe could be a month-to-month or something, that would help,” Criswell said. “Really, anything, like honestly, we left with the clothes on our back.”

“We’re looking three, four, five days down the line as our finances deplete. Like, we don’t know what’s next,” Williams said. “I just worry about my kids. In the 27 years we’ve been together, we’ve never really put them in a hardship situation like this. But they smile. They take it with stride.”

Despite losing it all, the family finds comfort in having each other.

“We are a positive family. It’s sad, but we got here by being the family we are,” Criswell said.

A family friend set up a GoFundMe fundraiser to help them get back on their feet. Anyone interested in helping can visit the GoFundMe by clicking here.

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About the Author:

Carolina Cardona highlights all Central Florida has to offer in her stories on News 6 at Nine. She joined News 6 in June 2018 from the Telemundo station in Philadelphia.