Saturday, October 8, 2022

Hurricane Ian hits Sanibel Island, another successful French Louie Fishing Derby in the books


Hurricane Ian has been the big news this week as it hit the west coast of Florida as a category four hurricane, just a couple miles an hour short of being a [category] five right at Fort Myers after passing over Sanibel Island. This island has been our winter getaway for over twenty years now during mud season, the month of April. That is when many of the birds that go south to South America (and some of the islands south of there) return north, and make Sanibel their stopover place after crossing the Gulf of Mexico.


It will not be our getaway this spring as it was hit extremely hard during the storm and the bridge going there from Fort Meyers was washed through in several places, making it impossible to drive there. Much of the power and water systems were also damaged. The condominium that we stay in at Sandalfoot on East Gulf Drive had the roof taken off, as did part of the back unit there. I’m sure the front units had water go right through them with a twelve-to-fifteen-foot tidal surge that went over the entire island.

Looking at the NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] satellite image from space, there weren’t many wooden structures that held up. They were in a pile washed down the road or in a heap across the road from where they stood. The death toll from the hurricane is at 77 as of tonight (October 2) with many more still unaccounted for. Pine Island (just north of Sanibel ) was also hit hard and lost the access road to it. Boats and yachts were washed about, just like toys in a bathtub. There are several locals who had places there in the area, and I hope they can salvage something…if it is still there.


After crossing the middle of Florida dropping over twenty inches of rain in many places, it went out to sea. In the Atlantic, it gained strength again becoming a category one hurricane. It hit the South Carolina coast right at Myrtle Beach where my daughter and her husband were staying in their condominium. She called and said they were going to ride this one out, as they were on the third floor. She said the winds were steady at fifty miles per hour with some gusts up to eighty. There was a tidal surge, but it came after high tide, which helped. They lost a lot of sand from the beach, and they had knee-deep water in the parking garage when the drains filled up with sand from the beach. She said she has that off her bucket list now.


I remember one of the first trips we made to Florida and stayed in St. Augustine. There was this message on the outside of the kitchen cabinet door marked [with] what to do in a Hurricane Warning. I never even gave that a thought and luckily, they don’t happen during the spring. Some didn’t heed that warning this time and paid the price. I saw some people going out in their big cabin cruisers, trying to outrun the storm as it was hitting the beaches. That must have been one heck of a ride, and they are probably some of the missing.

Oliver at rest in his bed. Photo by Gary Lee.

The fall leaves really came on during the week, and as I walked down to the pond tonight many of them were on the ground. I was banding birds this afternoon as I was also moving many plants from one place to another. I finally pulled the mist net, as I was catching more leaves than birds. I had a bear come right down the sidewalk as I was inside banding a bird. A mother and three of last year’s cubs have been around here all week. Mom took a forty-pound bag of sunflower seed right out of the garage one afternoon when we were in Old Forge. I had left the door open to let the monarchs I’m raising get some needed sunlight. The bear liked that idea and took the bag away somewhere. I had been taking down the bird feeders every night (even before that) even though the bears hadn’t been in past the electric fence. I’m sure she gave the cubs some of it. She didn’t like the white safflower seeds, as she left it just outside the garage and never broke the bag open.


We are babysitting Erin’s big, yellow coon cat while they are down south, Oliver (who is twenty-two pounds and quite a handful) growled at the bears who were right in the backyard. I told him they weren’t big mice which he has been catching at a hole on the front porch to earn his keep. He saw the cub this afternoon which he thought was more his size, and then he hid under the bed.


The town of Inlet had its annual [Adirondack] Kids Day yesterday [October 1] and a beautiful day it was. I was out on the fishing platform from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. [for the French Louie Fishing Derby] where over seventy kids spread out in four shifts got to try and catch that big one. I didn’t see any big ones, but I heard, “I got one over here!” several times as a perch hit deck. The fish were measured and released. “Need another worm over here” was [another key phrase] as fish around the platform were getting fed as bobbers were bobbing. It was a fun time, and the only thing that got hooked were the fish. Other events were happening onshore during this perfect day with beautiful leaves in the Adirondacks.


The Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation is having its fall Loon Festival at the Paul Smith’s VIC on Sunday, October 9 from 1 to 4:30 p.m. [It will be] fun for all. Check for a list of events. The drawing for the Hornbeck Canoe will be at the end of the day, and you can get tickets at the door.


Enjoy another week of leaf peeping with a full moon at the end, but that’s another story. See ya.


Photo at top: One of more than seventy 2022 Adirondack Kids Day French Louie Fishing Derby participants. Photo by Gary Lee.

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Gary lives with his wife, Karen, at Eight Acre Wood in Inlet where he was the Forest Ranger for 35 years, working in the Moose River Wild Forest Recreation Area and West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area. Now retired, Gary works summers for the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, observing, catching and banding loons. The author of a column Daybreak to Twilight in local papers from 1986 to 2019, he now writes his Outdoor Adventures a weekly blog. In 2008, Gary coauthored a book with John M.C. “Mike” Peterson, "Adirondack Birding- 60 Great Places to Find Birds."

One Response

  1. Linda Jacobs says:

    After 18yrs of hurricanes, beginning with Charlie, I can tell you first hand that the devastation Ian left is unprecedented. Matlacha and my home town Cape Coral were also deeply devastated. The landscape is forever changed. The burrowing owls made it through although where they took refuge is a mystery as we had many feet of storm surge covering their burrow. Blue jays were quite raucous in the days after the storm and the usual residents, mockingbirds, ibis, herons, cardinals, doves, etc were absent for days! A Bullock’s Oriole got blown in from Ian and was in my bird bath 3 days after the storm so there was more excitement & a check off the life list.

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