Hurricane Ian Recovery Update Day 2


Posted originally on the conservative tree house on September 30, 2022 | Sundance

Hopefully this hotspot holds up.  First things first, we are surrounded by the grace of a loving God, and we are thankful.

To begin updating day #2 on the ground in Southwest Florida (SWFL) allow me to please remind everyone to take these storms seriously and take all the advanced preparations needed to protect yourself and your family.  You can never overprepare.   Additionally, if you did evacuate from the area, stay where you are.  There’s no need to come back into the recovery zone and there are virtually no utilities (electricity, water) operating in most areas.

Working today with a search and recovery team from Fort Walton Beach, Florida, there are multiple agencies from around the Southeast sending resources.  We are incredibly grateful, and every resource is a blessing.

Day 2, while efforts continue, there are parts of the barrier islands (Sanibel, Pine Island, Matlacha and Fort Myers Beach) that are still inaccessible by anything other than air.  There is an evacuation ferry operation running every 90 minutes from Sanibel (West side of where causeway used to be) to pull people from the island. 10am – 5pm

Matlacha (North end of Pine Island) is also a boat rescue operation after the bridge failed.

Incredibly, the historic Sanibel Lighthouse did survive the storm albeit with damage.  The lightkeepers house is gone as are all the buildings around the Southern tip of the Island, but the Lighthouse is standing.  There’s a metaphor and a message in that outcome.

Unfortunately, there are many people missing, and frantic out of state families looking for their loved ones.  Hopefully, those missing were just last-minute evacuees that don’t know people are looking for them, and/or people with no way to communicate their status.  Local radio stations are broadcasting names and addresses of missing persons in the hope that people can call in with information.  This is why a communication plan is so critical for anyone in an extreme weather impact zone.

Search and rescue units are still working throughout Southwest Florida by air, boat and house-to-house searches.  Some power and some water services have returned to the Eastern side of the impact zone, but as you go west (toward the coast) the power and water services are in much worse shape.  [Tip: This is why garbage cans full of water are a part of the proactive planning.  You can hydrate with bottled water, but you cannot clean without a stored potable water supply.]

The origination and transfer stations for electricity have been hit hard.  There is no reason for linemen and pole diggers to be in the western zones because there is no infrastructure to trigger the origination of electricity.  That’s why power will return in a systematic way from East (inland) to West (coastal).  The thousands of power company employees are working on eastern impact areas where their efforts can restore power, while the longer engineering work of rebuilding transfer stations is happening in the west.  Power will likely be out for several weeks in multiple areas.

Debris removal is about 50% throughout the zone.  By ‘removal‘ I mean temporarily moved, shoved, pulled, cut or sawed out of the way.  Again, the further West the more debris remains.  Main roads are cleared, but local roads are blocked throughout.  Stay close to home if you don’t need to travel or secure critical supplies.

Some food retailers have begun limited operation to open for the community.  This will continue improving each day.  Publix Supermarkets have generators running primary store functions.

There are nighttime curfews in affect throughout the Southwest Florida impact zone.

Fuel is a major problem, in part driven by the absence of power.  A gas station without power is just a big underground gas tank.  Most recovery teams are traveling with their own fuel supply.

Unfortunately, the heavy rains from north Florida are still flowing downstream into rivers and the flooding inland continues.  The Peace River is expected to rise to a historic 24 ft above flood level; the previous record was just over 20 ft.  Additionally, the current Myakka River flood has caused I-75 to close from North Port to Englewood.

Evacuations along the increasingly flooded inland waterways continue.  Ian will be known as a storm carrying the deadly combination of wind and water as a storm event.  Wind damage extreme, storm surge extreme, and river flooding (rain) extreme.

Janet, a 40-year-old single mom in a wheelchair, who just moved to SWFL a week ago, stranded on the second floor of her apartment building without power and without a community of friends to call for assistance.  Her story is typical.  Delivering food and supplies to people like Janet is a relief service anyone can handle.  Radio networks are doing a great job using their format to organize local person to person assistance.  Listeners are responding to each request; it is inspiring to see/hear the community pulling together.   Fellowship lives here.

Alice, a 75-year-old woman without cash, and the only gas station she can find will only accept cash.  Within seconds she is in line at the station with cash in her hand.  This is what people do.  Define living and you will find the light left by these comfortably invisible community stars.  These are ordinary angels that defeat the looters by orders of magnitude.

There are many Janet’s and Alice’s right now, and fortunately there are overwhelming numbers of people responding to each call.

Yes, this is the fellowship part.  Sweaty, perhaps a little scruffy, often accompanied by the smell of fuel-oil mix in the hug, but when you remove all class distinctions the remarkable human spirit that surfaces makes the back pain and callouses insignificant.

Electricity is nice, potable water even better, but perhaps fellowship is the most important part of the restoration process.  At least, I think it is.

The desperation and worry on that unknown face tell me that you need my spot in line; here, take it.

I am not alone.

Every person reading this knows exactly what I am talking about without me even writing another word.

Life.

The best part.

Many people ponder the great universal questions of “why” these disaster events happen.  I don’t have any idea.

Perhaps it’s just the way I’m wired, but I can only look at the immediate task at hand.  Usually, I’m too busy focused on making the next the two feet of my immediate surroundings better, because looking at the hundreds of miles scares me.  If I can make these next two feet in front of me better, then I will have accomplished something; and then – another two – and another two.  Perhaps that’s my goofy way to deal with it.

However, when I think about fellowship and my community – perhaps we shouldn’t wait for hurricanes.

Love to all,

Sundance

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