Where were you during Charley? That is the question on everyone’s lips and minds this week. If you have to ask “Charley who?” you are obviously a newcomer and while we welcome you to our lovely little corner of paradise, please step aside while us old-timers reminisce. As you have heard ad nauseam lately, Hurricane Charley blew into Punta Gorda on Friday the 13th in August 2004. While the storm had initially been forecast to hit this area, that is often the best place to be — the storms never hit where they are expected to. And as is often the case, a few days before landfall, the destination of the Category 2 hurricane was changed to Tampa. Of course, you all know how this story ends. Just as the storm was skirting the west coast of Florida, it ramped up into a Cat 4, banked hard right, and hit Punta Gorda square in the kisser.
My family and I were in our home when the storm hit. We had placed our daughter’s twin mattress on the floor in our first floor interior wall closet and closed her and all the animals in there. Roll call: One 8-year-old daughter, three dogs, and nine cats. Thank heavens for roomy walk-in closets. In my defense, I was not the crazy cat lady at that time. We only had one cat of our own, but we were fostering a new mother cat and her seven kittens for Suncoast Humane Society, where I worked at the time.
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