There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.
Willa Sibert Cather
Willa Sibert Cather
For those of us that were in Southwest Florida six years ago today, August 13, it was not a just a warm, sunny summer day for the beach or the pool.
Hurricane Charley made landfall as a category four storm and ripped through Charlotte Harbor and up into the mainland. It was the strongest storm that had hit Florida since Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and caused over $13 billion in damages.
I spent Hurricane Charley in the bathroom of Casey's parent's home with my childhood dog, Emma. My mom and I headed there as the storm changed approached. Their home was newer, one story and pretty much our conclusion was if the roof was going to come off my mom's house we didn't want to be there to watch it happen.
Casey's dad was stationed at the kitchen table with a map and a radio wearing his hiking head lamp (no power, of course) tracking the coordinates of the storm as they were reported. Slowing drawing a red line, ticking closer and closer to us in a straight line.
As it approached, we became more and more worried. This nasty storm was going to go right over us. It's amazing all of the things you think of and all of the things you don't.
We thought of family photos, rain soaked albums and ruined memories. We did not think of cars, televisions or money. We thought of how to keep safe if the roof came off and the windows were blown in (mattress over us in the bathtub).
All of a sudden, very rapidly the storm shifted ever so slightly east and literally brushed past us. We were so fortunate. But so many other people in the storm's path were not.
So many people lost everything six years ago today. I have the I was there story and thankfully with the we're alright ending. The landscape in Southwest Florida has been forever changed. Driving over Charlotte Harbor you used to see miles of lush mangroves and tall pines. Even today, it looks barren to me. Stripped down to roots that are still growing back.
One of the most striking images I always remember seeing of the massive scale of destruction that Hurricane Charley left was a photo collage Captiva Island, where the storm first made land fall.
Amazing, isn't it? Thankfully I wasn't right there. But six years later, we're alright.