As residents of Fort Myers, Florida we have been through some bad storms in the past, but Hurricane Ian was by far the worst. Not just because it caused damaging winds and rain like most hurricanes do; what made this hurricane so different was how the storm surge disrupted our lives and our business. It doesn’t take long for us to get up and running after a storm passes by—most times tourists come back quickly—but with Hurricane Ian, things were very different. Here’s a look at our experience surviving and rebuilding in the aftermath of such an iconic storm.
We launched our first boat tour company in August of 2022 after returning from a charter boat experience in the BVI (learn more about that trip). However, on September 28th, Hurricane Ian came rolling through with forceful 159 MPH winds, changing the face of Fort Myers forever.
Aaron works for the Fire Department and was on shift, while our daughter and I stayed at a friend’s house down the street from our own. I’m not going to lie, we didn’t prepare well. We were complacent after years spending days preparing for the worst, only for it to land somewhere else or not be as devastating as predicted.
The hours waiting for the storm to pass were scary. We watched as the neighborhood filled with water. We were notified that an elderly couple had stayed in their home, which now had water up to the roof line. My friends quickly mobilized a rescue mission (watch the incredible video) and brought both of them over to us where we kept them warm and safe.
We barely slept that night. The world seemed to be pitch black, except for the glow of houses catching on fire down the street. I dreaded to think one might be ours. In the morning, we walked down to find our boat sitting atop our pool equipment. Our pool cage had been turned into a mangled mess of metal with torn screen blowing in the breeze. But our house was still standing!
Once inside, I found everything downstairs flipped over like it had gone through a dirty washing machine and the floor was covered in about 3 inches of slick muk. My car was flooded, along with many other treasures.
The days following the storm were physically and mentally exhausting. To ensure mold didn’t set in, we began ripping out drywall immediately. There were piles of garbage 6 feet high lining our streets well into December. Thankfully, we were able to get our boat in and get it back to its former glory.
The last boat tour we gave just days before Hurricane Ian blew through was to Fort Myers Beach during the Singer Songwriters Festival. It was probably one of the most perfect days we’ve ever had out. It’s still hard to believe that the bar we sat at listening to music is now completely washed away.
However, we went out a few weeks ago and I’m so happy to say that Fort Myers Beach is coming back! I know that it will never be the same, but there are some familiar sights like the Pirate Ship, Paradise Parasail, the ice cream cart and the Beached Whale that are showing exactly what it means to be Fort Myers Beach STRONG!
Beaches along Big Carlos Pass, New Pass and Lover’s Key are all still as majestic as ever. The water has been a bright teal blue and the shelling is exceptional. So while there may not be as many places to grab a bite to eat, the shelling and dolphin tours are still very much worth the trip!
Please contact us at 239-270-5021 if you would like to book a private boat tour!