My folks used to live in Fort Myers, and we've been through Punta Gorda and on Sanibel. Truly amazing more lives weren't lost. I think too many people think the hurricane forecasts are exact -- if a category 3 or bigger is headed in our direction (within 150 miles or so), we usually evacuate, because if they change directions quickly (as this one did, and Alicia did in our area in 1983), it's too late.
-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
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As I reported earlier, some members of my family that are resident in Post Charlotte, Florida, came through the storm unscathed. As of Tuesday, Aug 17, they have power restored but no phone service, hard wire or cell. They are subscribed to the computer side of direct TV, so as soon as they had power, they could get out on the computer.
Here is what I thought to be an informative e-mail, they sent me late Tuesday:
Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda are separated only by the Peace River. The south side of the bridge is Punta Gorda and the north side is an area of Port Charlotte called Charlotte Harbor. We live in Northwest Port Charlotte are which is about 8 miles northwest of the bridge and about 2 miles southeast of El Jobean. We are not in the country per se even though our property is in undeveloped land. There are only two houses in our neighborhood, but we are less than a quarter of a mile from a housing development.
Charlie came across Cuba and headed due north until it paralleled Naples. Every computer model, except the very first model, showed him either hitting Naples or bypassing Naples and hitting Tampa. The original model showed Charlie doing exactly what he did, moving directly into Charlotte Harbor and up the Peace River and across the state, just the way he went. Most of the weather sources and most of the Emergency Management people emphasized him either hitting Naples or Tampa, but much to his credit and thank God he did, our Charlotte County Emergence Management Person, Wayne Salade, constantly told everyone in Charlotte County to prepare, prepare, prepare.
Then Charlie began to turn to the east, heading straight for Sanibel Island. He bonced off of Sanibel and headed north then made a turn and headed across Captiva Island and into the harbor. In a matter of 20 minutes he went from a category 2 storm to a category 4 storm and increased speed from 28 mph to 33 mph. By this time, if you were not already in a shelter, it was too late to get on the road and try to make it to a shelter. Every weather source and emergency agency began yelling the mantra stay home, batten down, and ride it out in an interior closet. The National Hurricane Center still maintains Charlie was a category 4 storm, but three different weather stations in Charlotte Harbor measured 170 mph winds and another measured 190 mph winds.
The eye went down the middle of Charlotte Harbor and continued up the Peace River. Since the eye was only 5 miles wide our place was about three miles to the north west of the eye so we were in a weaker quadrant around the eye. The north east quadrant is the strongest and Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte have the damage to prove it. The truly miraculous thing is that people heeded the warnings and did exactly what we were told to do, and Charlotte County had only 4 deaths attributable to Charlie.
That is truly amazing.
It certainly gave me an insight to things.