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Hurricane Charley Changed Punta Gorda

by Mike Miller
(Naples, Florida)

Punta Gorda Florida Indian

Punta Gorda Florida Indian

Hurricane Charley slammed into Punta Gorda, Florida on Friday the 13th of August, 2004.

My sailboat, AWOL, was in Burnt Store Marina south of town. She lost her mast, bimini top, bow sprit, bow pulpit and lifelines.

It was enough damage that the insurance company had to ponder for some time whether to fix or scrap her. Fixing won out, and she was towed to the nearest boatyard that didn't have a huge hurricane-related backlog. That was Sailors Wharf up in St. Pete.

The wind damage to homes, especially mobile homes, was devasting in the area around Punta Gorda and surrounding Charlotte County.

The familiar blue tarp covering a badly damaged roof was the signature of thousands of homes in the area for the next couple of years.

A friend of mine who lives aboard his sailboat stayed aboard during the storm. He took pictures and videos of the whole event as the winds and tide screeched through Burnt Store Marina.

Although these visual records were helpful with my insurance company, no amount of beer should convince a person to stay aboard a boat during a hurricane. He is lucky to be alive.

The defiant red Indian that stood for years at a Punta Gorda motel survived Charley, but the motel didn't fare as well. The Indian was moved to a new location, but is no longer red.

The wind driven sand and debris gave the poor old guy an effective dermabrasion, and he is now a paleface.

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