How I Survived Hurricane Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne

Not all hurricanes have to cause every person thousands of dollars in damage, nor do they all result in evacuations. The key to this person successfully weathering out the storm was preparation and lots of luck. Below is a transcript of her experience.

How long did you live in Florida? What years?
2000 to 2005

What hurricanes and/or tropical storms occurred there while you were living there?
Charley and Frances, Ivan and Jeanne just missed us in Punta Gorda.

Dates of hurricanes:
Charley 8/13/04, Frances also 8/04, Ivan and Jeanne just missed us.

Do you know what level hurricanes they were? If so what?
Charley was a 4 and Frances a 2 but it stay over us for 48 hours. Charley was very fast.

Did you evacuate for any of them?
Yes, when I heard Ivan was expected to come the same path that Charley did.

Which ones did you evacuate for?
Ivan

Why did you evacuate?
After staying in my home through two hurricanes, enough was enough.

How far in advance did your receive warnings regarding the hurricane arriving on land?
I received warnings thoughout the storms, while they were starting as tropical storms and then as they changed course and also with landfall. I left just before Ivan made land fall. The only hurricane that I evacuated for and it just so happened that it missed my area.

Did you make preparations at the beginning of hurricane season?
Yes.

What did you do to prepare for the hurricane season?
I stocked up on extra food and water. I set up a safe room which I stocked with first aid supplies, supplies for the pets, blankets, pillows, flashlights, batteries, and a radio.

What did you do to prepare for the hurricane(s) that landed near your home?
We went to the safe room; which was a large walk in closet

What was your experience with the hurricane(s)?
Late in the afternoon, the Weather Channel issued a warning that Charley had changed course and was headed straight to Punta Gorda, Florida which is about 15 miles south of me. I put the animals in the safe room and starting making my phone calls to my friends and family. I was talking to friends in Dayton, when the power went out. After that I had no power so the batteries and radio were important. Also, my cell phone wasn’t working so I had no way of contacting anyone for a few days to let my family know that everything was ok.

What should someone expect to experience during a hurricane?
Expect the unexpected! Even though I was prepared with all the recommended items, I was not prepared for what happened, how strong the storms were, or how the damage would look after the storm.

What were your feelings during the hurricane? And how did you cope with them?
The roaring was pretty unnerving. I just took care of the dogs and tried to remain calm.

Did you have pets with you during the storm or did you shelter them?
Yes, 3 dogs and 2 cats

How did you prepare for your pets during the storm? Did you assign safe rooms etc.?
They stayed with me in the closet.

How did your pets react during the storm?
They just slept through the whole thing.

Did you have hurricane insurance?
Yes

Did you have flood insurance?
No

What were the damages to your home or property?
The damages to my home were very minor; three shingles were blown off the roof, and an orange tree was bent. The yard had lots of debris.

Where you without utilities? Which ones and for how long?
Yes, we were without utilities for four days but we did have water.

Did you have to do a lot of clean up yourself? What things did you repair yourself?
I cleaned up the yard debris, and hired a contractor to handle the roof repairs.

How long did it take you to recover from the damages?
A few days

What was the hardest part of surviving this event? Seeing the damages in Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte after the storm and knowing it could happen again.

Is there anything you would have done differently? Pack up the van and head to Ohio with the animals.

When did you leave Florida?
2005

Why did you leave Florida? Did hurricanes affect your decision to leave there?
The hurricanes, storms and the blistering heat, along with the fire ants and snakes all factored into why I decided to leave Florida.

Do you feel there is enough preparatory information provided to people who live in areas affected by hurricanes? Yes. While I was in Florida the weather service was tracking the storm every moment and information was provided to us. At the beginning of hurricane season newspapers and other forums provide lots of information about evacuation routes and what you should have or do “just in case.”

Not all hurricanes have to be a Katrina – and even those that are incredibly fierce storms should be feared greatly. It is possible that with the right preparation that your experience with a hurricane will not be overwhelming. Preparation is the key – if you live in an area of the country is prone to hurricanes, listen to the experts, prepare and plan.

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