NORTH PORT, Fla. (WFLA) — Power trucks, linemen, and crews roam around Southwest Florida still, more than a week after Hurricane Ian made its devastating landfall. To the residents, those trucks are a welcome sight — they mean progress.
“We were so pleased,” said Pedro Ruiz. “We were jumping up and down. We were excited.”
Getting back to normal in Port Charlotte means getting the lights back on.
“I just started jumping up and down,” Ruiz said. “We hugged each other and said, ‘Hey, power, yay!’ We were so excited.”
We first introduced you to Pedro Ruiz on Oct. 1. He had cleaned up from the storm at that point but didn’t have electricity.
Turns out, Ruiz ended up without power for a week and a day — he just got it back on October 6.
“You don’t realize how much you miss things,” Ruiz explained. “Like ice. I mean, just a cold drink. We saw they were giving away ice and we were like, ‘Ah, ice!’ We were so excited.”
It’s the little things for the Port Charlotte resident, like taking hot showers.
A few hours after he got power, his neighbor across the street did too.
“Let there be light!” exclaimed Fran Lopez. “That was what I said. ‘Let there be light!'”
Lopez chose to ride out the storm.
“The rain didn’t come down,” Lopez said, motioning her arm over her body. “It came across.”
Thankfully, she didn’t have much damage, but she did have to improvise cooking without power. She ended up learning how to make coffee and cook eggs on her grill, instead of her stove. That didn’t help with the heat.
“It was like 89 degrees in the house,” Lopez said. “The air is 89 degrees, your door is open, and nothing. Hot in and out. The same temperature. Horrible. Horrible.”
But with electricity now comes some humor.
“Then I realized how messy my house was,” Lopez said. “I said, ‘Turn the lights off!'”
In the thick of the power outages, one neighbor came to another neighbor’s aid. Lopez needed to charge her phone, but her car needs to be on to charge and she didn’t have much gas left. So, Ruiz let her use his car. Then, when he found a gas station that didn’t have a line to wait for it, he told her about it.
“So we came back and I told her and she said, ‘Well, I don’t have enough gas to even get up there.'” Ruiz recalled. “So I went and got my cans and filled her up and she drove off and filled them up and so she was all happy about getting some gas.”
Lopez appreciated that in her own way.
“Yes, my neighbor Pete,” she said. “Good man to have around sometimes.”