Hurricane Ian

Nearly all of Florida was thrashed by Hurricane Ian last week. We prepared for the strike, but the storm’s high winds and massive rain left destruction in its path from Fort Myers to Flagler Beach. Basically, it crossed the entire peninsula of Florida.

Orlando received more than 14 inches of rain from Hurricane Ian in September 2022.
Do we have lakefront property?

We were lucky in Orlando compared to the Southwest of Florida. Still, I worked on the landscaping and design of this yard for months.

Ian is my 10th hurricane in Florida, but only the second that brought damage to my area. Hurricane Charley crossed the state on the same path as Ian in 2004. Charley hit Orlando as a Level 1 storm, as did Ian, with wind gusts up to 100 mph. In 2004 we were on the northeast side of the storm (the dirty side), and tornadoes knocked down 30% of the communities tree canopy. Thankfully Ian did not cause that kind of damage. In place of the cyclones, we got rain, rain, and more rain.

My Outdoor Dreams Blow Away

After the storm passed, I stepped outside to see my gardens underwater. My backyard never flooded during the previous 25 years I lived here. But September 2022 broke the rainfall records from 1945 by 16 inches. Orlando International measured 22.42 inches of rain in September, and 75 percent came from Ian.

Step 1: Mother Nature Does Her Thing
The first step in recovering from massive rain is letting Mother Nature absorb the overage. It took four days for the waters to recede around my house so the cleanup could begin.

All the water flooded my newly planted winter vegetable garden. I may still have the time to get those started again.

Six inches of water covered my entire backyard after hurricane Ian.
The water on the patio is mid-calf deep.
Overnight flooding left my pool and gardens under several inches of water.
The pool is filled with garden dirt, worms, and debris.

Step 2: Pick Up Sticks and Rake
Raking leaves and stacking limbs is cathartic after a big storm. The blisters on my hands are a tribute to the effort. My large oak trees are leafless on the northeast side. The moss that used to hang in the trees is also gone. I raked for two days and loaded 31 bags with leaves and dead limbs.

Step 3: Begin Again!
My orchids all survived in the garage, and my potted palms are back on the patio. The plumeria trees lost all their leaves, and many of the perennial shrubs — hibiscus, hydrangea, gardenias, and azaleas — may not bloom this year. But they will recover. The annuals drown in the flood waters. I won’t know until Spring if they will reseed. The vegetable garden is a total loss.

Maybe I’m not back to square one. Rebuilding begins, and with any luck, we’ll be back on display by the holidays!

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