First of all, a heartfelt thank you to all who reached out to see how we were doing through Hurricane Ian and how you could help. Unfortunately, without power, internet or cell service, as well as just trying to get through it all, it was difficult to respond back to most.
But know that each message or email of care and concern, as well as each prayer, meant more to us than we can say, even though we didn't receive them till much later and/or weren't able to respond.
So I wanted to write this post to let you all know how we were impacted by the hurricane and how we are doing now.
This monster storm took an unexpected last-minute turn toward our area, and sadly, our community that we love was badly hit. The devastation is unbelievable and heartbreaking.
The worst part of this storm was the unprecedented storm surge of up to 15 feet that flooded and wiped out so many homes and businesses, and sadly, took precious lives.
Our favorite place in the world, Sanibel Island, was absolutely devasted, with even the causeway bridge being wiped out, so that there is no way in or out of the island.
I am thankful that we had our family vacation in Sanibel just 10 days prior to this. I will treasure those memories.
Thankfully, our family is all safe, and our home in Naples was not damaged or flooded, as we are 10 miles inland from the coast.
My in-laws in Ft. Myers had a very close call as they were trapped in their condo with water rushing 6' deep down their street and 4' deep into their garage.
The surge came too quickly to get out. 911 could do nothing.
We had no idea if/when the water would stop rising, and that is when I sent my desperate plea out for prayers. Thank you all so much for praying!!! Their only car is a loss, but they are safe.
They also watched helplessly as two of their neighbor's condos burned out of control since the overloaded fire department couldn't reach them.
My sister in-law's home is a total loss however, with the storm surge rushing 6' deep into her home in North Ft. Myers near the Caloosahatchee River. Thankfully no one was there at the time.
As for our immediate family, we were without power for 5 days, and without internet or cell service for most of that time, and had 15 family members taking refuge in our home.
We were very happy to have a generator that could keep the fridge and freezer cold, and that we could turn on when we wanted water for showers or coffee. We used it sparingly, however, as fuel was scarce and hard to come by. We used the propane we had, then went to gasoline.
We had gathered water in lots of jugs and containers beforehand, since our well pump needs electric to work. Water dispensers similar to these worked great for having by the sinks for washing hands and brushing teeth.
The hardest part was the inability to communicate with family members to see how they were doing, as cell service was down. We would have to go out in the dangerous streets with debris, high winds, and no traffic lights to find rare hot spots.
Our only link to the outside world, and what was going on with the location of the hurricane and other news, was our cheap emergency hand crank radio that I had bought years ago to have "in case." We had never needed it until now, and boy, was I glad I had it!
We got out our map of southwest Florida, and took turns cranking to be able to follow the path of the hurricane. Everyone should have a paper map! (Oh, and cash, too, as we found out later that many of the stores and restaurants that opened afterwards were "cash-only.")
We have learned a lot through all of this, and are incredibly thankful for God's protection.
So now that our power and internet service are back, we are cleaning up, doing laundry, recuperating mentally and physically, and slowly getting back to work.
Here is one of my cute yard clean-up helpers:
I am also glad that our air conditioning is back on so that snakes can't come in my bedroom anymore with the doors open for a little breeze. 😳 (Okay, it was just ONE snake, but still!)
So if you've emailed or messaged us, we will be getting back to you as soon as we can. Thanks so much for understanding!
Again, thanks so incredibly much for your care and prayers.
Life can change in an instant. Cherish those you love. 💜
Paula & Keith