Hurricane Ian literally came in like a wrecking ball, with wind speeds ONE mile per hour away from a CAT 5 and completely destroyed parts of Southwest Florida. I sit here writing this with mixed emotions that I am currently unable to process, so although this isn't the typical AV related topic you would find on EPIC Audio Video's news feed, I felt passionate about sharing my personal perspective.
I have been working with EPIC Audio Video since May of this year and while I have said many times how grateful I am to be part of such an amazing team, I was blown away by the level of determination they showed when we learned Hurricane Ian would make a direct hit to the Tampa bay area. Because my home is in St. Petersburg and in an evacuation zone, both Mike Novak (Owner of EPIC) and Leigh (the glue that holds EPIC together) tried desperately to get me to come stay in Naples and safely ride out the waves. St. Pete is about 2 ½ hours North of Naples, Florida.
For anyone reading this who isn’t a Floridian, packing up and leaving your home is NOT as easy as you may think. 24 hours before Hurricane Ian made landfall, I made the decision hunker down in St. Petersburg with a friend who lives in a non-evacuation zone.
What feels like just moments prior to landfall, Hurricane Ian made a quick turn to the South and if you have seen the news, the weather channels or been on any social media sites – you know what came next.
The surrounding waters of (my) Pinellas County peninsula and the water in Tampa Bay was swept up, up and away like something out of a sci-fi movie. Hurricane Ian took all our water and pummeled it on top of the Counties just south of us. As I watched the news reports of this hurricane moving at a glacial pace through many towns including Naples where EPIC Audio Video resides, I was horrified, glued to the tv and pretty much in a state of shock.
3 days after landfall, I still feel a tad bit catatonic. I was able to return home, put my house back together, and resume normal activities… so I should be jumping with joy… but my insides are torn up with these emotions that won’t allow happiness because I am so saddened by the catastrophic devastation that hit EPIC’s home base. A week ago, my co-workers reached out with concern and offered up their homes so I would be safe. Today, I am not sure their homes are still standing.
Because I work remote, and am in an area that has power, wifi and non-flooded streets, the best help I can offer my team as they begin pumping out water and picking up pieces – is to be the command center of EPIC operations while they continue recovery efforts. At least I feel like I am helping in some small way.
My heart goes out to all who have been affected by this catastrophe. There will be months and months of clean-up and re-building efforts in Naples and the other dozens of towns that took a hit so please be patient, be kind, lend a hand and most of all please show some compassion because everyone (directly involved or not) will handle this situation in their own way.
As of Oct 1, 2022 - the EPIC Naples showroom has no power but is OPEN. The main office has no power and is surrounded by flooded streets so it remains closed for now. Should you need to get in touch with us, send a note using our website contact form or message on any social platform and I will get right back to you.
Stay safe everyone!