TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Florida man who survived raging flood waters during Hurricane Ian’s landfall in southwest Florida considered himself lucky to be alive thanks in part to a refrigerator.
George Andrad, a sous chef who lived on the bottom floor of a now-destroyed Fort Myers home, told NBC affiliate WBBH that he rode out the storm by climbing into a refrigerator and using it as an improvised life raft.
When the water started to rise, Andrad entered his neighbor’s second-floor apartment where he tipped over a fridge and jumped in as the water rose.
“I opened it up, and I jumped in,” he said. “And the water just raised, raised, raised, raised, raised to my chest.”
The water continued to rise until it began to reach the ceiling of the second floor.
“It takes me floating, and then it’s like ‘boom’ hit the ceiling, and I’m like, ‘Oh God, I’m done,’” Andrad recalled.
Andrad told the news outlet he bobbed in the water like a buoy for five excruciatingly long minutes. Luckily, as soon as the storm surge neared the ceiling, it reversed course.
Andrad had survived.
“My living room. My couch. My TV. Tables,” he said. “It’s all gone. Ceilings are gone. Everything’s gone.”
Andrad, who told the news outlet he called the area his home for the last 20 years, said he decided to ignore the evacuation orders put in place after past hurricanes didn’t impact the area as he had expected.
When asked if it was ironic, being a chef, that a fridge saved his life, he responded, “No kidding, right? I was inside the fridge. If that fridge wasn’t there, I’d be dead for sure.”