By all accounts, we were extremely lucky. Just 24 hours before landfall, Hurricane Ian was expected to come ashore just south of Tampa Bay, putting my home in Bradenton in the projected direct path of a very significant storm. As the day wore on, the forecast shifted south a bit, and as you know, Hurricane Ian slammed into south Florida, devastating towns like Port Charlotte and Ft. Myers. The northern edge of this massive storm’s eyewall passed about 40 miles south of us. We weren’t out of danger, but it was significantly reduced. And we also had a chance to experience the positive side of a tragic day.
A very slow-moving storm, our area experienced hurricane-force winds for 9 hours, with wind gusts up to 120 miles an hour. Our power held on through part of the storm, giving out just a couple of hours after landfall. By 5:30 the following morning, the winds had died down enough for me to get our generator safely outside and running. Then, we simply waited until sunrise to see what the final outcome of the storm was to be.
As indicated earlier, we were very fortunate. A neighbor to one side of us lost part of their pool cage. On the other side, a neighbor lost one side of his brand-new lanai. We only lost a large section of a Maple tree in our front yard. The lawn was a mess of twigs, sticks, and leaves, and three of our large trees, two oaks, and a sycamore, now have a slight lean to the south from hours of unrelenting wind, but they otherwise stood firm when others in the neighborhood succumbed to the assault. We even found that, with help from our generator, our Frontier internet was up and running and internet-based DirectTV was available.
I did mention being lucky, didn’t I?
A storm such as this brings many things. Stress, anxiety, fear, and danger, to name a few. But while it manifests the worst in mother nature, it generates the very best in humankind. Evidence of that was and continues to be plentiful around here. Before the storm, neighbors were helping neighbors secure their property, find necessary resources, and ensure others could be safe from harm. After the storm passed, the decency of humanity has been even more evident.
In my own neighborhood, as we all emerged to survey the conditions of our homes, we were also checking on our neighbors. A woman was helping one neighbor relocate food from a powerless freezer. A man who lives three doors down came by with a chainsaw and helped me cut up the large tree section that had fallen in our yard. And I had the opportunity to brew pots of coffee for neighbors who could not do so. Another neighbor made extra garbage bags available to help those engaged in the cleanup.
Elsewhere, this spirit of caring and community is broadly evident. You’ve likely seen stories on the news of ongoing rescues being performed in the state. Military and civilian helicopters, along with Ospreys (a military plane with vertical landing and takeoff capabilities) have been crisscrossing the skies over our home since the storm, flying to aid people stranded from flooding in inland areas like Arcadia and Myakka City. Private citizens on Facebook are collecting donations for those nearby in flooded areas. The effort to help those less fortunate is continuing and strong.
The lasting legacy of a storm or other disaster is not the damage that is caused, but the kindness and benevolence that is shown to others after the fact. It is fascinating to observe, and I was very fortunate to be able to witness it first-hand.
Yes, we were very fortunate, indeed.