Hurricane Ian Recovery Update, Day 3


Posted originally in the conservative tree house on October 2, 2022 | Sundance

First things first.  We are blessed by a loving God who continues to provide the greatest nourishment we need, food for the soul.  You’ll find it all around, including in the gift of a temperature irrelevant shower, the first in five days, and a belly full of beef stew, Dinty Moore of course. 🙂  Finest gourmet dining in years. Perfect.

Airborne search and rescue efforts continue with particular emphasis on the barrier islands and back bay region.  If you haven’t watched the video of U.S. Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin aircrew from Airstation Miami, you should [See Here].  It’s a great example of the hundreds of rescue flights taking place all day, and the kid who used the mirror to signal the flight crew and protect his grandma is, well, sharp.

Again, if you evacuated the coastal region of Southwest Florida (SWFL), stay put where you are.  There is no power and no water system; literally nothing to sustain you that you do not bring yourself.  If you do enter this region to check on your property, do so with the intent to leave again because there’s no current timeline for any restoration. A strict sundown curfew remains in effect throughout.

Rescue ferry service from Sanibel Island continues for those who can make it to the Western side of the destroyed causeway.  The entire island is being evacuated leaving only the national guard in place to provide security.  No reasonable estimate for any recovery.  Officials need everyone off the island.  Earliest estimates for repair of the major damaged infrastructure are being made in terms of years.

Air and boat rescue from Matlacha and Pine Island continues.  Like Sanibel Island the bridges are gone.  State and county law enforcement resources are too stressed to operate in a location now inaccessible by road.  Mandatory evacuations have been ordered.  See Graphic for how to leave Pine Island today (Sunday):

Residents are asked to make their way to the location above and national guard trucks will take you to Coast Guard boats.  Evacuees will leave their vehicles at the pick-up point.  This is a mandatory island evacuation until interim recovery efforts can take place to make returning the island possible.  My heart goes out to the people forced to leave their homes, some, likely many, with no place to go after the shelter stay.

It’s a mess.  Pine Island is mostly salty good people with working callouses and a mix of retirees who just wanted to live quietly in an old Florida location.  Now this assembly of people need to figure out where to live with no available housing for 50+ miles.   According to local media every hotel and motel within 50 miles of the western impact zone are full of evacuees.   Long term, I don’t think anyone knows what this is going to look like.

I’m not going to repeat the prior post, but Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is rightly calling out the Lee County Electrical Cooperative (LCEC) for not seeking more help to deal with the catastrophic situation surrounding full infrastructure collapse of the power grid.  There is almost no energy recovery effort taking place in the western impact zone and thousands of homes have fallen powerlines atop them, around them, or blocking the roads in front of them.

More people are starting to notice the absence of LCEC recovery efforts. It’s good that Governor DeSantis called them to task personally and publicly.

Recovery operations continue with a street-by-street debris removal process.  Once most debris are dealt with, the residents who remain can start to organize life in semi-livable structures albeit without electricity or potable running water.

Thankfully many people evacuated the coastal region including Cape Coral.  The remaining population needing resources is less than normal. Those who remain are traveling up to 30+ miles for gasoline for generators.  Utility restoration is being discussed in terms of multiple weeks.  Most businesses are closed.  Reality is starting to settle in, and tough decisions are being made.

If you lift your head up from the chainsaw buzz and listen, just about every conversation is about the void of longer-term information that would help people make decisions about their next move.  It’s like tens of thousands of people in a holding pattern trying to figure out what comes next.  The current status is short-term sustainable for most, day-by-day, after all inherently people are resilient.  However, two weeks out or six weeks out, no one can see that far.

Naples is in full restoration mode.  Bonita Springs and Fort Myers are not far behind.  The inland areas are doing similar yeoman’s work getting some semblance of life back to a sustainable place, including their ability to earn a living.  But travel west into Cape Coral, a town of approximately 230,000 residents, and it’s an entirely different situation.

The barrier islands are being forcibly evacuated.  The western or coastal areas of southwest Florida are hammered in every imaginable way.  Everything, including the ability to restore, rebuild, operate a business or work in the region, is contingent upon the return of utilities like power and water.   Right now, those are questions without answers.  Hence, the holding pattern for tens of thousands.

Amid all of the uncertainty the resiliency of the ordinary person or family is on full display.  Neighbors helping neighbors, generators being shared in four-to-six-hour increments to allow multiple homes to maintain a fridge, that sort of thing.  Fellowship and connections deepening.  Good stuff.

Gus is a 55-year-old air conditioning repair man.  But Gus cannot work without power, and Gus’s bosses will not put the 50+ employee workforce on the road.  Jesse is a 25-year-old barber, with no electricity at his shop, ergo no income.   Mac is a single 25-year-old auto mechanic living in a town without power to operate a business where he could work, and there’s no electricity or water at his house.  Juan is 35 with a lawncare service, a wife, kids and a trailer with a broken roof.

Gus’s kids and their spouses and kids are now under Gus’s roof sharing resources.  Jesse’s mom, sister and cousin have assembled at his home to do the same.  Mac couldn’t see a future, so he left for Georgia.  Juan is busy making money with his chainsaw and new fuel delivery service in lieu of lawncare customers, which is good because Juan is now covering the missing paycheck for his sister-in-law and her husband who just lost their work.   This is the reality for people putting one foot in front of the other.

For a few moments today the elephant looked bigger, but immediately I noticed more people are biting it now.

I hope that civic and community leaders, elected or installed, will pause – look around- and cherish what they are seeing in We The People.

Those officials need to commit to be better stewards and work to deserve their role in whatever capacity they hold.  The working middle-class are the backbone of every community – and this nation is full of grit and determination.

Love to all.  Steadfast,

Sundance

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.