Hello dear ones,
Ed and I celebrated our wedding anniversary and my birthday on the 24th of September, two days early, because a hurricane was expected the following week. We went to Tarpon Lodge with Solveiga, our nurse friend who lives with us and had a lovely dinner. Solveiga had recently left her boyfriend, who kicked her out in a drunken rage, not believing her when she said she had to work late at the hospital, convinced she was cheating, said he would put her cats out at the curb, so she left and came back to us. After the liquor wore off he was remorseful and became Mr. Super Friend. So she allowed herself to see him. The news about the approaching hurricane was dire but we weren't worried because we had been through Charley in 2004 and subsequent deluges had also left us unscathed.
Ian struck on Wednesday. We had put up storm shutters and did not suffer from the predicted storm surge. Indeed we slept through it, occasionally waking up to complain about the awful racket. In the morning we woke up to find our pool cage gone, not a surprise. Our neighbors who are on the curve of the island got 4 inches of water inside their house. The news during the day became more distressing. We live on the point of an island with a view of Charlotte Harbor. Pine Island Road that includes two bridges, one to Cape Coral and one to Pine Island, ties us to the world. Both bridges severely damaged, can't be used. Power lines down, no power, water pipes damaged, no running water. After talking with neighbors, we tried to drive down to Pine Island Road to check out the damage. There were many downed power lines and we decided not to risk it even though there was no power. Those who had seen Pine Island Road, the main road, had this to report: almost everything gone -- no stores, no Bert's Bar (a landmark). Tons of debris, the road washed out.
Neighbors with boats brought us water, started our generator, but we were advised there would be a mandatory evacuation. Our dear friends, Danny and Jean, drove from Punta Gorda, parked on the mainland, took a boat to a landing spot on Pine Island and walked for an hour to get to our place, climbing over the patched up bridge. They rushed us out of our house because "the last boat" was leaving soon. So our neighbor drove our SUV to the bridge, volunteers lifted Ed and his wheel chair over the rough spots, carried our three cats -- two in one carrier -- one in the 3rd. "This is a heavy cat" said one, we explained it was two cats. We took a boat to the mainland. Neighbor then drove the SUV back and left it in our driveway. On the other side, we found Danny's car and drove to their house and have been here ever since. Earlier this week, the main bridge was repaired and yesterday, Sunday, we visited and grabbed stuff we would need for the long haul because we can't stay without power and running water. We brought my computer which explains why I am able to post this. While we were evacuating, someone was taking photos. It turns out he was a journalist and Sol's mom in Lithuania saw Ed's photo being lifted over the bridge in his wheelchair.
Our hosts have three daughters, one in college, one a major in the army, only one still at home, so we are living in one bedroom, Sol in another, and Kennedy, the youngest lives with my Max in her bedroom. Max, is a manx cat and doesn't get along with Juliet, who lives in our bedroom along with Tyler. It's going to be a while before it's okay to go back and live in our house. And even when we are there, there will be no outdoor time for the cats until the pool cage is rebuilt.
Meanwhile, Sol totally tossed her ex boyfriend, who had come over before Ian hit and screamed at us to evacuate because we were going to die in a storm surge and kill Solveiga. So Solveiga had a little ceremony and burned a photo of the two of them. She's done with him. It has been difficult to communicate with friends because cell towers weren't working. So I called New York, which I could reach, and had New York friends call our friends in Florida.
I am in touch with my daughter. All friends now relieved to know we made it through. Yes, it was worse than Charley. It's one thing to have house problems, quite another to lose your entire community. For those of you who know Matlacha, Bert's Bar is gone.
Love to you all,