preparations begin as state recovers

It’s time to get serious about your hurricane preparations.

Build a hurricane kit and know your area and be ready to evacuate.

Those three things will make all the difference in the world in case a hurricane hits.

“I don’t think there’s anything that can compare or give you a warning of what you’re going to see,” said Tammy Crum, a homeowner.

As a new hurricane season begins, Crum reflects on how far his neighborhood has come.

At his home in Orange Harbor after Hurricane Ian, a two-by-four punctured the roof and there was mud and twisted metal everywhere.

“We were a bit in shock really,” he said.

Like many homes in the coastal community, there was extensive damage along the banks of the Caloosahatchee and Orange rivers.

From the WINK News drone you can see the empty pads and lots for sale.

“We had 18 people call 911 at the height of the storm and be told see you tomorrow,” said John Schoellner, manager of the community association.

It was the worst he has ever experienced.

“A woman said that the water entered about three feet in that house. Three feet tall, and she climbed onto the kitchen counter. That’s where she lay down, weathered the storm,” she said.

Almost all the houses had water, and the wind destroyed the garages and the roofs.

The damage is still evident with entire houses destroyed by the storm surge and abandoned.

Reconstruction will not be easy.

Schoellner said the park has never seen water that high.

“There were boats and boat lifts along this channel going into the Orange River, and they were swept away or broken up,” he said.

One of them was Crum’s ship.

“Luckily the boat crossed the road there and we were able to recover it fairly quickly,” he said.

Soon, the Crums will be back in their new home, lifted 5 feet higher, tied down for stability and protected with hurricane windows.

“So we really feel like we did what we could to help our situation going forward, and we feel very comfortable that if something were to happen again, we’d be okay,” Crum said.

Schoellner said, “I think when the hurricane warning is issued, they’ll pack up all the loose stuff that they sometimes don’t, and leave the park sooner than in the past. I mean, it was a real revelation.”

Another great way to prepare for hurricane season is to watch the WINK News Hurricane Special on Wednesday nights at 8pm for the 2023 hurricane season.