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A construction worker pushes wheelbarrow in Fort Myers Beach, Florida, on November 2, 2022, after Hurricane Ian devastated the area.

by Janelle Retka, Samantha McCabe, Jiahui Huang and María Inés Zamudio, Columbia Journalism Investigations and The Center for Public Integrity

This article was produced in partnership with Columbia Journalism Investigations, the Center for Public Integrity and it was co-published by Futuro Investigates, a division of Futuro Media. It is reproduced with permission.

Standing before a two-story house on the coast of Fort Myers Beach, Florida, where Hurricane Ian unleashed a seven-foot storm surge two weeks earlier, Marcos looked at the structure, shredded beyond repair. 

Wearing a paper mask and gloves, the 54-year-old Nicaraguan immigrant walked inside. He could see and smell the mold, dark and pungent, blooming in the walls. Marcos spent the day ripping out soggy insulation –– first with hammers and later, his hands. The dust coated his clothes and skin. 

Marcos, a construction worker for 25 years, was no stranger to grueling labor. But after Ian devastated a 47-mile swath... Read more