It was 10 years ago today (Friday the 13th of August, 2004) that Hurricane Charley changed the lives of many Southwest Floridians as well as Floridians as a whole. All initial reports had Hurricane Charley hitting Tampa; however, there were a couple of meteorologists (including a few in Fort Myers led by Jim Farrell of WINK-TV [a CBS affiliate]) who had taken a closer look at the movement of the feeder bands and other circumstances and gotten a different perspective. at 11 AM Eastern, they went with their gut and broke away from the forecast track by the National Hurricane Center, saying that instead of a landfall at Tampa that it would strike Southwest Florida.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_abdknsfYo]
I was keeping track of it myself and knew there would have been a little deviation, though nothing like what the meteorologists had posited. Mom came and told me that we were evacuating further inland, and so we had left about 12 noon further inland. I was listening to it on the radio, and within the span of 30 minutes Charley went from a minor Category 2 storm (96–110 mph winds) to a major Category 4 (130–156 mph) as it was heading for Southwest Florida, the first major storm to hit the area since Donna back in 1960. It hit Punta Gorda (which is 20 miles to the north of where I live) about 3:30 PM and caused extreme damage in the area. On my mom’s property it destroyed a car port and misplaced a storm gutter. There was one house on Bayshore Road that had the front part of the house COMPLETELY ripped away. We wound up without power for 7 days after Charley hit, and then decided to evacuate when Frances and subsequent hurricanes decided to threaten Florida. That led to the leg and subsequent health issues I am still fighting to this day.