Well, this has been an interesting couple of days. Hurricane Charley decided to welcome us to Florida (one welcome I could have done without). At first we were going to try to hunker down and stay since we were outside of the projected flood zone. However, during the night on Thursday/Friday it was upgraded to a Category 3 with winds in excess of 120 mph and we decided we better get out of the area. We loaded up the car and left about 7:00am on Friday… headed over to the east coast of the state. The only problem was that a couple of million other people did the exact same thing. Many of them went to Orlando but we went straight across to Fort Pierce. However, we spent 3+ hours trying to find an available hotel room before we finally got one. We had to go all the way down to W. Palm Beach to find it (we did learn a lot about the various towns down that stretch of I-95)
Anyway, we were as surprised as anyone when Charley took the sharp turn about 2:00pm and went ashore at Punta Gorda (about 90 miles south of Bradenton) instead of staying on the projected path up to the Tampa/St. Pete area. I think that the people who were probably the most surprised of all were those who had evacuated this area and gone to Orlando, because Charley crossed over the middle of the state and went right over the Orlando area. Fortunately for them it had expended a lot of its energy by the time it got there.
When we came back home yesterday we came through Hardee County (about 50 miles due east) which got hit pretty hard as the hurricane went through. It was very sobering to see huge trees uprooted and tossed for long distances, houses with their roofs completely torn off, mobile homes and travel trailers turned on their sides (and in some cases completely upside down). While we are grateful that we were spared the brunt of the storm in our area, we did feel for those we saw along the way who were standing outside their ruined homes… many in obvious tears at what they saw.
It really made us appreciate things a whole lot more when we pulled into our apartment complex and saw that everything was as it should be. Just another of the many things in life that we can tend to take for granted if we’re not careful…