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Ian packs powerful punch

Jim Boxberger Jr.
Posted 10/7/22

 It has been over a week now since Hurricane Ian devasted Florida. Most of us either have family or know someone who lives in southwest Florida. 

My mom’s house in Cape Coral was …

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Garden Guru

Ian packs powerful punch


 It has been over a week now since Hurricane Ian devasted Florida. Most of us either have family or know someone who lives in southwest Florida. 

My mom’s house in Cape Coral was ground zero for the monster category four storm. It was eighteen years since Hurricane Charlie in 2004 that Cape Coral, Ft. Myers and Punta Gorda took a direct hit from a hurricane, but unlike Charlie, Ian’s eye was 35 miles wide when it made landfall. 

Charlie had an eye around five miles wide and it was a fast moving storm with not much storm surge. Also since 2004 the population of southwest Florida has increased over thirty percent, with more than fifty percent of that increase in senior citizens. 

Luckily my mom left with a friend and spent the night on the east coast last Wednesday, as there was no safe place on the west coast of Florida. Before she left, she went through torrential rain that fell Tuesday night as Marco Island and Naples started to get the storm surge from this slow moving storm. 

On Wednesday last week I spent the day watching live webcams from businesses on Ft. Myers Beach, Cape Coral and anywhere else in southwest Florida that I could find. Wink news in Ft. Myers was online and had live updates as well as the Weather Channel with poor Jim Cantori standing in the middle of Route 41 in Punta Gorda, 20 miles north of Cape Coral. 

As I watched all the live feeds I could find, one by one they all started to go out. The Pier Cafe on Ft. Myers Beach had a live webcam that went dark at 11:30 am Wednesday morning when power on the island was knocked out.  Wink news in Ft. Myers was working on generator power since 11:30 Wednesday morning, but they were knocked out at 5 pm when their generators were flooded by the storm surge from Ian. 

I found out Thursday that the Pier Cafe and many other businesses on Ft. Myers Beach were completely destroyed. As dawn rose on the west coast of Florida on Thursday, pictures, video and news coverage started to appear with the devastation that Ian left behind. 

Power, water and phone service (including cell service) were all out in Lee and Charlotte Counties, so you couldn’t even check in on friends and family. I talked with my mom Thursday morning while she was on the east coast, but she was heading back to Cape Coral to assess the damage and might not be able to contact me again for awhile. 

Cape Coral recorded sustained winds of 140 miles per hour, which is incredible since Cape Coral is protected by the coastal islands of Sanibel, Captiva and Pine Island. The storm surge was so great that all of those islands can only be accessed by boat or helicopter now as all the bridges have been washed away. 

Those who didn’t evacuate before the storm are now being rescued by the National Guard by helicopter and these islands will be uninhabitable for as long as it takes to build new bridges which will probably take two years or more. 

By late Thursday I received a text and a picture from my mom, a yacht had been deposited in her backyard by the storm. Luckily the storm surge stopped just six inches below the threshold to her backdoor and she had no structural damage to her house. 

Like most of southwest Florida, she had no power, no water and no cell service except for texting. This condition is not due to change for quite some time. Florida Power and Light expects it could take up to a month to get the lights back on. 

There is no mail, no school, no banks, no ATM’s or internet and the few places that are open, will only take cash as credit cards will not work until power and internet get restored. 

There are a few gas stations open, working on generator power, and the lines go for miles. The winter tourist season for southwest Florida has been canceled by mother nature and the effects will touch us up north. 

This winter, tomatos, strawberries and oranges will be much higher priced due to the storm. Fields were flooded and trees stripped of leaves and blossoms as the storm crossed the state. A week after the storm and the full extent of the damage is still being assessed. 

The damage to structures and loss of life are at the forefront of the news coverage and rightfully so, but the economic agricultural damage will take another four to six months to fully comprehend.


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