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Living through Ian

by Bonita L Peterson 2 months ago in Science / Sustainability / Nature / Humanity / Climate / Advocacy
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Fort Myers

My home is on Fort Myers Beach but I rode out the storm at my daughter's place in north Fort Myers. I am devastated, grateful beyond words, distraught, happy, sickened, relieved and overwhelmed. We lost so much and we have so much left. Time stands still, and time rushes by. The rollercoaster of emotions rocks you into sleep and back out. We are out of homes and jobs, but we are ALIVE. Barring a couple of acquaintances, everyone has checked in safe and ALIVE. Hence, the happy part. Many cannot say the same. Thinking of those that were not as lucky is the crippling sadness part. So many lives forever changed. So many lost. Lifetimes of treasures and keepsakes gone forever. For tens of thousands of people, memories are all that remain. For thousands of people, anticipation of happy news and fear of bad news still dominates their every thought. There is a strange mixture of hope and rebirth constantly overshadowed by fear, grief and uncertainty. It makes me feel guilty to feel happy and grateful, knowing how many don't get to feel that way right now.

We lost power fairly early on in the storm, and communication abilities shortly thereafter. I can assure you, the not knowing is the hardest part of it all. There is nothing quite like being desperate for information on a friend who's last post was a video of a wall of dirty water stuffed full of enormous debris coming at them shouting "Holy shit here it comes". Or a friend in the second story saying their goodbyes as the water rushes in. There were lots of those. In the immediate aftermath, people try to post or see posts. We remain glued to a radio, or anything that gives updates. Desperate pleas for rescue and pleas for any update on loved ones are constant. You want to know if your home is still standing but cannot indulge that frivolous need to know until all the people are found. You can't even think about tomorrow because today is still too all consuming. You never quite shake that feeling you had when the house was rocking, trees are snapping, windows being sucked in and out. It lingers and you clutch your beloved pets at random intervals as if they are still in danger. You do a lot of hugging before, during, and after. We will likely never forget how fragile life is again.

We are pretty good at rebuilding stuff, but it is infinitely harder to rebuild our mental state of mind. You watch the clean-up and outpouring of unity with hope and pride, then watch scammers rip it away. We can be sure that we will never be quite the same. Some will come out stronger, but for some, the effects will slowly eat them up.

I got word after three days that my house is still standing. It is incredible to know I may be able to salvage some of my things! It means little else though. It will likely be months before power, water and sewer are useable again. Right now, even residents with hurricane passes can’t go check. It is incredibly dangerous still even to try and walk through the island. The second reason, the one that chokes me just to write it, is there are still too many bodies. Human and animal. One rumor said Fort Myers Beach ordered 1000 body bags. It is a small island so that is likely very significant. It is soul- crushing to think about. No death toll has been reported for Fort Myers Beach yet, so we wait, worry, and cry a lot.

I must say I am shocked and very impressed with the clean up efforts everywhere. Here in Fort Myers, they had paths cleared by daybreak and most main roads passable by noon. People clean up their streets and yards immediately, making rows of dead vegetation along the sides of the streets. The city will start picking it up right away. It is awesome how good our hurricane responses are getting, but it is devastating to remember why they are so good. Practice makes perfect, and we have to practice way too often.

I can't shake the memory of Florida's last governor making it illegal to say "global warming" in this state. I kind of want to kick him, or something. I swear, if we don't change our evil ways, there will be nothing left. Climate change is real. It gets worse every year. I’ve experienced it firsthand. How long can you keep tearing things up and rebuilding? This planet has limited resources and it is high time we start acting like it does, or we will all live to regret it.


About the author

Bonita L Peterson

For five decades I have wanted to write and I finally have the time to do it. I am, what I like to call, a bit eccentric others may just call a little crazy. I'll leave it up to you to decide.

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Comments (13)

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  • Gina B.3 days ago

    Wondering how things are there now? So sorry you've had to experience this repeatedly.

  • I wish I had the money to pledge and tip to you. I'm aggravated that I don't have a single penny to give. I'm tired of living paycheck to paycheck. I need my wallet to get COMMA'S in it.

  • My condolences my prayers my care goes out to all who were affected by hurricane Ian. I'm so sorry for your loss. God bless take care.

  • Erin Allison22 days ago

    Well written and such an important message too! My grandparents had a time share in Fort Myers Beach; it was like a second home. I was devastated to see the damage done to that beautiful island.

  • It was heart wrenching to see nature’s fury play out on TV. Through your sharing of your experience of riding the storm. Very thought provoking indeed. Thanks for writing this.

  • Fortis Rakow2 months ago

    Fantastic! Thank you

  • Sal Tori2 months ago

    Fantastic! Thank you

  • Noethiger Guerrero2 months ago

    Great! I want to give you credit!

  • Friotcoy2 months ago


  • Sissi Smith2 months ago

    Big hugs from central Florida. I am so glad you and yours are okay and completely understand the guilt you speak of. I hope you are able to salvage more than you lose. Blessings and healing to you.

  • Mary Haynes2 months ago

    Thank you for writing this and taking us on the journey. It is honest and compelling. I’m sorry for you and everyone in Fort Myers and the other areas so badly impacted by Ian. I’m so happy you are safe and hopefully will be able to recover some possessions. We are in Canada but our sailboat is in Indiantown Florida, and my daughter lives in Wellington, Florida. At one point the projected path went right over us. We watched with relief and horror as it changed and took aim at the west coast. We understood the devastation that change would make to the low lying, vulnerable area. I’m so sorry for everyone who was impacted by Hurricane Ian.

  • marie ehlenbach2 months ago

    I used to live Florida, in 80's. I remember we had one hurricane in the time I was there. But it was nothing like the Ian's. I hope things work out for you!

  • Heather Lunsford2 months ago

    It is so easy to sit safely in another part of the country and just see the news out of Florida as facts and figures and forget that real people's lives are forever changed. Thank you for sharing a tiny bit of what your family has been through. I'm glad your family is safe. Wishing your path forward is as smooth as it can be. Stay safe

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