As an almost lifelong Floridian (to my friends I’m still a Yankee), it’s hard to describe the emotions of the past month. So much has happened in just the last few weeks. For some, back to “normal” came quickly. For so many others, things may never be the same again. Ian was more than just a hurricane. It was a life-changer.
As soon as the spaghetti models surfaced, the memes began. New Floridians were juxtaposed against long-time residents in a series of seemingly amusing images. New Floridians were depicted as hoarders of water and toilet paper while long-timers were getting pedicures. New Floridians were buying up plywood while long-timers were grilling up dinner. The contrast was funny…until it wasn’t.
Before long it became quite clear this was no longer a fire drill. Soon conversations shifted from casually discussing if/when we’d put up shutters to “I’ll pay you whatever you want to put up sheets of plywood…” Should we stay, should we go?
True to form, our agents banded together to advise and aid our clients, especially those “Hurricane First-Timers.” We removed for-sale signs from yards as a preventative measure and shared tips for mobile home dwellers and residents in flood prone areas. We let them know we would be there as a resource after Ian as well.
The emotions were real, the prepping, the shopping, the minute-by-minute coverage, glued to the TV for any hope the Hurricane would shift. Finally came the realization that we would be spared the worst. We, as adults were mentally exhausted, but what about our kids and grandkids; the constant reminder of how deadly this was had to be even scarier. The experts say there is almost a guilt that the doom others experienced could have easily been us.
Sure, we’ve been spared the wrath of a few monster hurricanes and it’s easy to become complacent. Many locals have read (and spread) the ancient lore regarding the “protection” we may have been granted due to Indian Burial Grounds, indigenous spirits, and so forth. The tale seems to grow bigger with every storm that passes us by. It’s a fascinating story, and well worth the read. However, I wonder if it, along with these near misses, has been giving too many a false sense of security. Hurricanes are serious business.
The media covered some of the worst devastation. Within hours, Sanibel had become unrecognizable. Parts of Fort Myers and Cape Coral suffered as well. Over 100 people died, some are still missing. Closer to home, in Myakka City, the beloved Dakin Dairy, which provides milk to our local stores, lost hundreds of head of dairy cattle and the farm took an enormous hit.
While it is true our immediate area mostly came out unscathed, the broken fences, fallen trees, roof damages, losses of power etc., should serve to remind us just how close we came to the eye of the storm. Hurricane First-Timers, you made it through. Hopefully you saw that despite the jokes, when push comes to shove, we’re there for each other. To all those who rallied to help Dakin Dairy with water and much needed supplies… to all those who pulled out the chainsaws to help a neighbor in need… to all those who bagged debris, shared generators, opened restaurant doors to help feed a hungry community… Thank You!
Together you helped prove just how wonderful our community can be. A sincere thank-you to all first responders and linemen. You are heroes! Our heartfelt prayers go out to our fellow Floridians who lost loved ones, pets, and homes.