2017-10-01 / Spotlight News

My weekend with Irma

By Nick Batos
Councilman, Village of Estero


In the days following the hurricane, Nick Batos spent hours going into communities to offer help and to ascertain the conditions. Shown: Tree damage in Shadow Wood at The Brooks in Estero. 
Nick Batos In the days following the hurricane, Nick Batos spent hours going into communities to offer help and to ascertain the conditions. Shown: Tree damage in Shadow Wood at The Brooks in Estero. Nick Batos My weekend with Irma was one that I will never forget.

As the days before the storm passed and the anxiety levels increased, we finished our preparations and made the final decision that we were going to stay in Estero at our home to ride out what the experts were calling possibly the worst hurricane ever to hit the state. Many of our friends had left or had begun to leave south Florida for parts north. Family and loved ones encouraged us to do the same. But we felt secure in our storm-shuttered, whole-house-generator-outfitted home where we were preparing to ride out the storm with another couple. I also wanted to be in town after the storm to see what I could do to help my fellow residents in Estero.

On Sunday morning the storm was hitting the Keys. By early afternoon here the wind and rain were fierce. Our house was fine but the generator failed by midafternoon, so we were in the dark and the only way of knowing what was happening was by listening to a 25-year-old battery-operated boombox that used to belong to our children. It was like when I was a child, the family gathered around the radio waiting to find out what was happening. It was a life saver.

In the days following the storm I spent hours going into communities around Estero. On Wednesday after the storm I received a call from the Village of Estero offices that an e-mail had been received from France asking if we could look in on a relative whom the sender had not been able to reach. She was 92 years old and dealing with cancer.

My wife and I drove into the woman’s Estero Parkway community, where there was no power and the streets were flooded. Although armed with the woman’s name and address I could not find the house. I was fortunate to find a woman and her friend driving out of the community and I asked her for directions. She was gracious and led us to the house.

When we arrived at the home we found it completely closed in with storm shutters. After knocking on the door for several minutes we heard a low voice telling us to come in. We found a woman lying in a dark room in bed, frail but alert and articulate. We asked her if she was OK and if she needed any help. In her heavy French accent, she made it clear that she did not want to leave her home and all she wanted was some water and food. The compassionate neighbors who were still with us offered to go to the store for the water and crackers and other things she requested. My wife and I left feeling confident these neighbors would continue to look after this lovely woman and would make sure she was OK.

My experience and thousands of others like this were happening all over Estero and the rest of the state. While many have suffered greatly, I am thankful that so many in Estero and elsewhere have come together to help friends and neighbors and strangers who needed help. This is truly a great community we live in.

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