As was true of Part 1 of my description of living through Hurricane Ian, nothing that follows is intended to minimize the death and destruction that has befallen my city, Naples, Fla., and our surrounding coastal communities.
To continue the story: The storm, perhaps the mightiest to hit the West Coast of Florida in modern history, changed course from its apparent intended path to Tampa, and now the epicenter was Lee County, including Bonita Beach and points below Naples. Tampa would still get hit, and Disney World was closing.
So now we were 24 hours until touchdown, and the rains had started.
I went out and got dog food, pasta, smoked salmon and a few other necessities. I already had 17 cases of Evian I had bought during a two-for-one sale. I also had an entire shelf of truffle supplies, some gifts from clients who know I love the stuff. I had crackers. I was set.
Despite the approaching storm, we were working seven days a week at our small travel business to keep up with bookings, as our clients, spread out in 46 states, were still contacting us about getting space at the best hotels, booking luxury cruise ships and reserving their space on safaris in 2023. We were having a record-breaking September, so Ian really got me pissed off. I had clients in Africa and friends spread across Europe as we continued to plan travel. The day before Ian landed, I made my first 2025 booking.
Soon Ian came ashore, the lights started flickering. I had correspondence and articles to write and people to call.
Then we got knocked off the grid. Our staff, our clients and friends could not communicate with us for four days.
The storm hit hard and the pool cage shook and the tree limbs bent. There is a small lake out back, and Ian turned it into a churn of high waves fighting one another for dominance.
Under the light of candles, we listened to the radio for four days, and that experience really brought it all home. As one of my clients later mentioned, it had a feeling similar to the aftermath of 9/11.
Naples will come back, and stronger than ever. The temperament of the people down here is such that they will have it no other way. Many lived elsewhere, and this is their ultimate dream destination. These are folks from Jersey and Illinois, Pennsylvania and New York. The Ians of the world will never win. And there are some deep pockets down here to rebuild “paradise” quickly.
When the power came back on, I discovered I had over 500 emails expressing concern and hope that we were all well. Opening those emails is something I will remember long after the pain wrought by Ian starts fading from memory.
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