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Living in the Shadow of Hurricane Ian, A Year After

Abigail Muth
Buildings destroyed on Fort Myers Beach from Hurricane Ian. Photo by: Abbey Muth

As we approach the one-year anniversary since Hurricane Ian hit Southwest Florida, the tragic memories awaken and still haunt the people of the area. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Ian took 149 lives due to its catastrophic passage. Fort Myers is still trying to recover from the calamitous storm that surged nearly 14 feet above the ground, the highest ever recorded in the history of Southwest Florida according to Wink News. Florida Gulf Coast University was impacted too from the immense storm.

FGCU interrupted in-person classes and moved everything remotely, providing all the necessary supplies to its students and faculty. Additionally, the university launched The Hurricane Ian Disaster Program, a leave-sharing plan for faculty members. Today, I look out of the window at the heavy rain and I extensively remember what happened one year ago. The tragic pictures instantly flash through my eyes like a fiction movie, etched in the hearts of all of us who lived that nightmare. The inner wounds have not yet healed.

I will never forget that day because I realized that everything is futile, transitory and momentary and nothing is for granted. Dozens of my fellow citizens died because of their instinctive attempt to protect their homes. Thousands of others pick up their puzzled-pieced strength and relearn how to live again, a new auspicious day, without raging clouds and deafening noises from the storms.

When will ataraxia and tranquility come? During the whole year, I tried not to be psychologically affected by that happening. But today, I am reminded of what happened and I still remain vulnerable and powerless to empower myself. It is said that pain is halved when it’s shared with others. This is the main reason that I decided not to write an ordinary article about Hurricane Ian, but to encourage all those who feel vulnerable like me these days. Perhaps together we can make our weakness an indomitable power that can illuminate every shadow of the past.

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Hurricane Ian changed several people’s reality forever. On one hand, it exposed the incomplete urban planning of Southwest Florida. Thousands of buildings do not meet the appropriate safety guidance to withstand wild natural phenomena. On the other hand, it changed people’s mindsets in terms of anticipating and following instructions from public authorities. Myriads of individuals waited until the last minute to evacuate the red zones that were expected to be hit, causing a chaotic atmosphere.

Post-traumatic experience is present though, but always after a strong storm comes sunshine. Last week, I visited Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve in Fort Myers and surprisingly I found out that Mother Nature has already healed its own parts. Flora and fauna came back to the early stages, ready to welcome the visitors and enchant them with the irresistible vegetation. Because stagnation exists only in those who surrender to the mercy of their fate.

I prefer to belong on the other side with all those who are waiting to find the lost hope, the end of the thread, in order to defeat the shadows and bring back the self-luminous beacon for a brighter tomorrow.

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About the Contributor
Abigail Muth
Abigail Muth, Eagle News Editor-in-Chief
Abigail Muth is a senior studying journalism and was a transfer student from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Abbey was born and raised in the Cleveland area and wanted to be a teacher until her sophomore year when she discovered a passion for writing. Her dream job would be to write features or shoot documentaries for companies like National Geographic or Patagonia. Abbey is passionate about the outdoors and traveling and hopes that one day she will be able to incorporate those things into her career. When not editing or writing stories or responding to emails, Abbey can be found reading on her lanai or walking her puppy on the beach!

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