PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Chris Earl's conversation with Merle James and her daughter, Donna Tomlinson, about surviving Hurricane Ian as they talked outside of their Port Charlotte home.
Merle: It was terrible. I sat down just shaking on the floor there when the water coming down through the receptacles and the sun. Big girls may have a big totes catching a whole bunch of water. In order for it not to flow over, they have buckets bailing it out, throwing it in the toilet. And I was just shaking like crazy.
Chris: And so you survived the storm, but what do you need now? You had talked about storage.
Donna: Storage is a huge issue right now because we lost the roof. We're going to have to get the house because it's filled with mold and mildew and stuff. Just as that being out there have been pretty good. But now we need to leave inside of the house, but we have nowhere to put our stuff so that by the time the roofers get here and the people to start working, but we're not in there, so we need storage and we are staying in various places. But if we can find some way to rent, it would be awesome.
Chris: How difficult is that right now?
Donna: It's extremely difficult.
Chris: How is your heart Holding up after all this?
Donna: As a Christian, I just have to keep saying, 'it's just stuff'. We can get it back and that you have to put yourself in a frame of mind where you say, I can do this. You have to. Because if you start thinking about all this stuff, I don't know where your brain will be.
Merle: I'm a CNA/tech medic and I work with Alzheimer's (patients).
Chris: You're needed more than ever right now as a medic.
Merle: Yes. Am sometimes I have to be absent from work, and I don't know how much my employers understand. And I am like being dragged both ways at a time. And, you know, it's really, really difficult.
Chris: How's your heart right doing right now with all this at three weeks?
Merle: I can hardly explain, but I keep praying. That's one I'm asking God to keep me. And I certainly know that those people need me, like essential because at work, we are short staffed right now.