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Irma... the rest of the story.

As Hurricane Irma drew closer to Florida we were safely "hunkered down" near Boone, North Carolina with my son's family. We kept in touch, as best we could, with family and neighbors who stayed in Fort Myers. It was now predicted that our area would take a direct hit with a possibility of a catastrophic storm surge.

NBC-2 was live streaming throughout the storm and we watched intently as Irma struck Marco Island and slowly moved through Collier and up into Lee County. We could only imagine what it may have been like for those in shelters or gathering with family in their homes as the electricity went out and the winds screamed around them.

We prayed for Fort Myers and for all of Florida.

In the next few days we began getting reports from Fort Myers and learned more about the damage through continuous live streaming.

In our neighborhood there was a lot of damage to trees, but most homes and buildings held strong. The ten foot storm surge that was predicted did not materialize as Irma moved further inland than expected.

Unfortunately for those in the northeast quadrant of Irma, there was a lot of rain and flooding. Thousands of homes were severely damaged by the strong gales and water.

As our own damages were assessed, we realized that the wind had taken out one queen palm and a guava tree. It had also pushed water up under our shingled roofs on both of our properties. At our home, a section of our kitchen ceiling had collapsed and one bedroom had taken in water.

At our rental property, next door, the back apartment had multiple roof leaks and was a huge disaster.

There was little that could be done, for now.

Linemen, power crews, FEMA, the Red Cross and disaster response teams from throughout the country were pouring into Florida. Gas and water were in scarce supply and it would take days to stabilize the area.

So...we waited.

Each day we hoped that news would come that the power had been restored and it was safe to return home.

Teen Valley Ranch, our refuge in the mountains, was such a generous and gracious host to our family! We were able to enjoy the amenities and join with two "family retreat" groups that were there during our evacuation. (visit TVR.org)

After almost two weeks in NC we finally headed home.

Without electricity for 11 days, the water damage to our properties was now exacerbated. The moisture and heat were the perfect breeding grounds for mold. Both our home and the rental apartment were uninhabitable.

Thankfully, my mother and step-father are snowbirds and own a large house in our neighborhood. Until repairs can be made to our house they, too, have graciously opened their doors to our family. (Thank you, Mom and Ralph!!!)

Now our days are focused on getting back to normal.

But until that day comes... cutting trees, clearing debris, mowing lawns, meeting with adjusters and contractors, filing claims and driving Uber has been the new normal.

Now in the aftermath of Irma, we can say that we survived the largest Atlantic Hurricane to ever make landfall in the United States. And as we rebuild we know that we will never forget September 10, 2017...the day that we met Irma!

On behalf of my entire family we want to thank all of you that have been such a blessing to us during this challenging time.

Teen Valley Ranch...Greg and Sheila Oakley

Michael and Ashley Peterson...with Chael and Eden

David and Anda Peterson...with Charlie and Luke

Timothy Peterson...boots on the ground in Fort Myers

Kyle and Joy Peterson Schwartz...boots on the ground, also.

Connie and Barb...amazingly helpful neighbors!

Mom and Ralph...we are so grateful for a place to stay!

FEMA...Short term funds to assist with food and gas

Our parents and siblings...recovery $$$

Coleene, Marcy, Glenda and Moriah...packing and cleaning

Peterson children; James, Timothy, Andrew, Hope, Merry, and Melody...disaster cleanup crew

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