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Hurricane Michael survivors look for fresh start in Southwest Florida

Posted: 10:30 PM, Oct 14, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-15 09:34:13Z

CAPE CORAL, Fla. -- Two families plan to make Cape Coral their new home after Hurricane Michael devastated the town of Lynn Haven.

"If we weren't all together, I don't know how we would've made it through," said Ashley Tuttle, who drove to Cape Coral Sunday afternoon with her fiance and five neighbors.

The car they drove reads "We Survived," a reminder, Tuttle said, that they survived the storm. 

Her aunt, Cyndi Elser welcomed her and everyone in the car to Southwest Florida with open arms.

"Look at the devastation. It could've been a family loss. We could be mourning right now, and grieving, but we're not. We're not," Elser said as her eyes watered.

Tuttle said leaving with the clothes on their backs and a few important documents was the right decision. 

"Doing whatever we possibly could to survive and get out of there. Because once we found out how long no power and no water. 6 months? You can't live like that," she said.

"That's where their strength came in and said, 'We have to go. We can't wait for help. Helps not coming to us,'" Elser added.

Tuttle said they had to climb over downed power lines, resort to relieving themselves outside and spend three days digging their car from out of rubble. And now they're ready for a fresh start. 

"Everything we worked hard for is gone...Get everything we can to get back on our feet. That's what we need to do. Just get back on our feet," Tuttle said when asked about their next steps. 

Volunteers came to Elser's home to donate furniture just after Tuttle arrived. She said she's grateful for them and her aunt.

"if it wasn't for my aunt I don't know where we would be right now," said Tuttle.

Elser opened her home for Tuttle and her new family from Lynn Haven to stay until they can find reasonably priced housing. She said friends have also donated food to help out.

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2018 STORM NAMES

Alberto Leslie
Beryl Michael
Chris Nadine
Debby Oscar
Ernesto Patty
Florence Rafael
Gordon Sara
Helene Tony
Isaac Valerie
Joyce William
Kirk


HURRICANE TERMS TO KNOW

Tropical Storm WATCH: An announcement that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are possible within the specified coastal area within 48 hours.

Tropical Storm WARNING: An announcement that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are expected within the specified coastal area within 36 hours.

Hurricane WATCH: An announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible somewhere within the specified coastal area. A hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.

Hurricane WARNING: An announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are expected somewhere within the specified coastal area. A hurricane warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.