The last few weeks have been a blur. Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida on September 28 and it was quite hectic planning for this major storm. At first, it was predicted to hit Tampa so most of the Tampa area had to evacuate (including me). My fiancé, my pup, and I prepared our apartment for potential flooding and drove down to Venice to help my parents shutter up their businesses and hunker down for the storm. Unfortunately for us, the next prediction claimed that Hurricane Ian would hit Venice. At this point, we decided to bare the storm and hope for the best. The category 4 (just 2 mph shy of a category 5) hurricane hit the Fort Myers area, which is roughly an hour south of Venice.
We endured 30 hours of buckets of rain and gusts of wind (up to about 120 mph) slamming on our windows and walls. We packed our important belongings and stayed on the second floor of my parent’s home in case of a surge. We had prepared ourselves with endless candles, snacks, and games like Scrabble, Uno and Jenga, but one isn’t in the “fun” mindset when you can see palm trees bending halfway and shingles flying off the roof. The feelings of anxiety and insecurity felt tangible as we quietly watched the storm through the impact resistant windows. It was an intense 30 hours in the dark…and by dark, I mean that we lost power shortly as the storm began in the early morning and had to rely on family (all the way in Venezuela) to text us when the hurricane eye wall made landfall. Then we lost cell service and felt totally un-eased. We had no idea how my sister and her family were coping through this storm just a few blocks down or how our old friends were managing without power to sustain their medical oxygen tanks.
Above left: My Dad making us sandwiches under candlelight.
Above center: Our downtown stores took a hit and sustained quite a bit of damage.
Above right: Several roads were blocked by fallen trees.
Bottom left: This was our Venice Theatre…a place where I had joined their summer camp for years during elementary and middle school.
Bottom center: If there is anything I’ve learned, car port roofs do not endure hurricanes. Almost every car port in Venice was in shambles.
The following morning after the storm, the sun was out and birds were chirping. It was remarkable! There was so much damage around our small Island of Venice and yet it was a beautiful morning. My fiancé and I walked around with our pup Zeus to check the damage and find cell service to report to family and friends that we were “OK.” In the following days, it was incredible to see how efficient our community was. We all came together to clean up the damage, pick up debris, chop down trees that had fallen on roads and houses, and check on each other to make sure we were okay. We didn’t have power for about four days, but we had a generator that provided power to our fridge and several other neighbors’ needs.
NUHS professors were very understanding of the situation and extended assignments and exams. We came back to classes October 6 and it was a relief to know we were all okay and ready to get back on the academic track. While we all feel a little lost with the amount of time away from campus and the build-up of material, we’re taking it step-by-step to get back on track! After spending days picking up debris and carrying heavy material, I couldn’t wait for Open Lab to get adjusted! It’s good to be back!