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Friends’ help make riding out a hurricane doable

May 18, 2018
By MEGHAN McCOY ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

One thing a Cape Coral resident took away from experiencing Hurricane Irma is that it's better to weather a storm with others.

"Not being alone, I think that was very important," Ron Michaletez said. "People calm each other down."

He and his wife take hurricane season very seriously. They spend time preparing by stocking up with canned goods, dry goods, water, gas in their vehicles and cash.

In addition, they took down their boat canopy and strapped the boat down, as well as put their hurricane storm shutters on their home.

"We tried to get it prepared," Michaletez said.

They also elevated the majority of their belongings in case storm surge took place; their home is less than 10 feet above sea level. The couple stayed up-to-date with the storm by watching the news, which made them afraid of the storm surge they might experience living on a canal in Cape Coral.

"I think the news kind of playing up the storm surge forced our hand to make the decision," he said of evacuating. "My house isn't 100 percent hurricane proof."

Two and a half days before Hurricane Irma impacted the area, they decided they needed to leave.

"The broadcast kept coming in worse and worse," he said.

The initial plan was to start heading north before a friend asked if they wanted to head further up north to a condo.

A specific time was decided upon to leave when his wife called a couple of her girlfriends and they were given a better option - a condo at Tarpon Point on the fourth floor.

"She offered that to us. It was only a couple of miles from where our house was . . . ideal situation," he said.

Michaletez called his buddy back and said a condo was just made available to them and offered him the space as well.

When all was said and done, nine people ended up staying at the Tarpon Point condo, as well as four dogs and three cats.

"We all felt better being together. We all chipped in and had supplies . . . water and Gatorade . . . and we filled the bathtubs," he said.

"We felt very safe in the condo building. We were watching the boats and the water. We watched it, but felt safe in the building because we were 40 feet up in the air. It was a hell of an experience," Michaletez said. "We saw all the water get sucked out of the marina and saw it all come back. It really was incredible. It was quite an experience, and I'm thankful we had our friends with us."

When making it back home, they saw that it, unfortunately, suffered some damage: an orange tree was knocked down, the sprinkling system was ruined, the tiki hut had holes, they lost the majority of their screens and had damage to the roof. Although three or four of the straps broke on the boat, it was left undamaged.

"We were fortunate in a lot of ways . . . we are safe and we had a place to go to," Michaletez said.

There is still a tarp that lies on his roof eight months later. The couple was able to take advantage of the Operation Blue Roof program and had an insurance adjuster come to their house three months later. Once the adjuster inspected the couple was approved for a new roof.

It took some time to find contractors.

"We tried to get companies that were reputable and had a good reputation in the community," he said, adding that their complied list resulted in estimates all over the map as far as price and material.

As of the fourth week of March, Michaletez said they are looking at the middle of May to have a new roof replace the damaged roof, which is almost 17 year olds.

This season he will take the time to make his home a little more hurricane proofed.

"I don't think you could completely hurricane proof a house," Michaletez said.



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