I watched in trepidation along with everyone else as Ian made its way past Cuba and entered the Gulf of Mexico, bee-lining Florida’s west coast, building in strength, keeping everyone on pins and needles regarding its landing.
It’s hard living in Florida. You know people all around the state – and it’s a BIG state! While you hope and pray you are not in the bull’s eye of any approaching storm, there’s relief and a little bit of guilty angst when it goes elsewhere. While we might feel as if we’ve dodged a bullet, that bullet is still heading straight towards someone we know and care about.
Ian took care of that by becoming the biggest, baddest storm in recent history; big enough to cover nearly the entire state with winds spanning 400+ miles, the highest recorded gusts reaching 150mph. And it was slow, moving across the state at around 9mph. Large, slow storms produce a lot of storm surge; up to 12 feet on some Fort Myers’ barrier islands. And the water didn’t just affect the west coast. Florida is flooded throughout the state, including many central and east coast areas.
Ian arrived on the sunrise side Wednesday night and Thursday, the outer bands heralding in the weakened now tropical storm. Don’t underestimate a tropical storm. We had wind gusts in the 80s. Out my front window, the Intracoastal looked like the ocean on a blustery day with whitecaps flying over the banks. Our palm trees swayed in submission to the winds, their fronds flying sideways like hair in a wind tunnel. Eaves flew off the roofs of the buildings or were bent sideways, banging with the wind throughout the night. I lost power, but miraculously only for a few hours. I thought it would never end. And I was only in a tropical storm.
My brother and his wife stayed in their townhouse in Fort Myers, hunkered behind hurricane shutters and no doubt praying to our sainted mother to make it through unscathed. They’re originally from Colorado, and this was their first hurricane. What a first. They’re fine. They’re without power and will be for some time. They have someplace to go until it’s restored. But there are hundreds of thousands of people, victims of Ian, who do not. My thoughts and prayers are with them.
Once again Mother Nature has changed the landscape – and the seascape – of this blue ball we live on. So many memories made in these places have had their backdrops painfully erased. Thankfully we DO have our memories, and we can share them with others beginning with, “Remember when…?”