Photograph Contributed by Bob Neff
Bob and Christy Neff moved to Sarasota, Florida after 25 years in Arabia. Christy enjoys her work as a real estate agent and Bob, among many projects, has been busy "rehabilitating" one of their three properties.
On Thursday, August 12, Bob had a new project....boarding up his three properties in preparation for Hurricane Charley.
Charley made landfall Friday, just 35.6 miles from the Neff home, with winds of 145 mph (233 kph) and 13 - 15 foot waves. It snapped utility poles, demolished buildings and flooded roads in the retirement community of Punta Gorda and Port Charolotte in Charlotte County, the eye of the worst hurricane to hit Florida in over a dozen years.
At least 16 people are reported dead while many others are injured, and hundreds are still reported missing. Just under 1 million remain without power and 2,300 are in emergency shelters.
Charley was predicted to hit land 70 miles further north, but changed direction within minutes of the coast. At its worst, Hurricane Charley's wind gusts topped 180 mph (289 kph) in Punta Gorda. It lost strength as it moved northeast across the state.
Bob reports that the eye of the hurricane was 20 miles wide and "missed us by 15+ miles! Whew, that is close!"