Volume 2 Issue 10 | October 2022

October (not so much a) Piece Of Paradise

Hurricane Ian

From great beauty, pain. And from pain, great beauty.

Given that our home watch clients were not in the state of Florida during the onset and landfall of Hurricane Ian, this month we'll share a bit about the storm experience in northern Sarasota County.

Thursday, September 22: Sarasotans began talking about Tropical Depression Nine, which was forming in the Caribbean Sea. It had potential to become a hurricane in the next few days. The track, which had a high level of uncertainty, predicted a direct hit to Southwest Florida. Meanwhile, after two weeks of heavy rains, the Myakka River in Sarasota County was at flood stage.

Friday, September 23: Tropical Storm Nine strengthened to a Tropical Storm and was officially named Ian. It was anticipated to strike Florida as a Category 3 hurricane as early as Monday night (September 26).

Saturday, September 24: Overheard at the dog park on Saturday morning, in reference to residents shopping for storm supplies: "The lines are out the door at Walmart."

Sunday, September 25: The County's Emergency Operations Center was at partial activation. Forecasters had been telling us that Sunday was the day Ian would strengthen and develop a more clear trajectory. The path shifted to the west, putting Sarasota County in danger of catastrophic storm surge and nearly 10 inches of rainfall. Ben conducted pre-storm Home Watch visits.

Monday, September 26: Ian had officially become a hurricane. It's movement slowed, pushing its anticipated arrival to Wednesday. The path remained highly uncertain. Businesses announced plans to close on Tuesday so that employees could prepare themselves. Ben conducted additional pre-storm Home Watch visits.

Tuesday, September 27: Evacuation centers opened to residents. Neighborhoods were filled with the sounds of power drills and hammers (hurricane shutter installation), and patio furniture scraping the pavers as it was moved to safer locations. Southwest Florida was preparing for a direct hit to Tampa Bay, which would bring 11+ inches of rainfall and catastrophic storm surge to Sarasota County. Power linemen and disaster response teams streamed into the area, staging for response.

Wednesday, September 28: Power outages in North Sarasota began as early as 9:30am, when the storm was a Category 4 (155 mph sustained winds) still 50 miles southwest of Punta Gorda. Cellular service became unreliable, with only some text messages going through. First responders paused service until conditions were safe for traveling. Winds continued in northern Sarasota County past midnight, unofficially reaching Category 1 wind speeds.

Thursday, September 29: Sarasotans awoke and emerged from their homes to inspect the damage. Of the 287,000 FPL customers in Sarasota County, 270,000 were affected by the storm. Neighborly cleanup efforts began. The prevailing sound was that of a chainsaw, tackling the many downed limbs and trees.

Without access to electronic communications, for many "North County" residents it would be days before they realized the storm had hit south, not north of them - that the Fort Myers and Arcadia areas were facing devastation, and that the nightmare had only just begun for fellow Sarasota County residents in North Port.

Ben began conducting post-storm Home Watch visits in accessible areas.

Friday, September 30: Schools in Sarasota County were closed "indefinitely" as the District worked to assess damages to their facilities, establish reliable internal and external communications, and transition evacuees out of school shelters.

A total of 21.45 inches of rainfall were recorded in North Port during three days of impacts from Hurricane Ian, causing major flooding to the already-high Myakka River. The city would continue fighting impacts, including water-born evacuation and rescue missions, and Search and Rescue teams, over the next week.

Ben finished his first round of post-storm Home Watch visits.

Saturday, October 1: Approximately 65% of power had been restored, and 65% of traffic signals were back to operational, in Sarasota County. Neighborhood Points of Distribution were opened by the National Guard.

Saturday, October 15: Several weeks after the storm, life for many residents in 

Sarasota County has returned to normal. Life for many others has not. Forty thousand Sarasota County families have registered for FEMA assistance, and FEMA is operating a Disaster Recovery Center in North Port. By Monday, October 17, all Sarasota County public schools should be re-opened. Our hearts go out to those in Sarasota County who experienced major impacts from the storm, and especially to our neighbors in the Fort Myers area.

Coastal Haven Home Watch clients experienced varying levels of damage. While it was difficult for our family to endure Hurricane Ian from within our home, we understand it was also difficult to endure the unknown from out-of-state. Our goal has been and will continue to be, to deliver Peace of Mind for your Piece of Paradise. We hope one outcome of this unfortunate event is a deeper trust and stronger relationship with each of our clients.

As "season" approaches in Sarasota, we look forward to welcoming you back to your slice of paradise. Please do not hesitate to share suggestions for improved service the next time you are away. If you have been satisfied with our service, we would be very appreciative of a positive review on Google or an emailed testimonial to include on our website.

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