Hurricane Ian Devastation Seen Through Local Eyes

Article Presented By Rathkamp Financial

(Mike Smith reporting from Southwest Florida) – My travels have taken me through some areas that have been devastated by Hurricane Ian, which smashed into Southwest Florida on September 23, 2022.

Fort Myers Beach condo crushed by Hurricane Ian: Photo by Mike Smith/Litter Media

To date, the Category 4 storm has claimed more than 110 lives and caused an estimated $67 billion in damage. When it made landfall in the Fort Myers Beach area, storm winds were clocked at near 150 miles per hour and had a storm surge that pushed water into the beach front city at more than 13.23 feet. That is a level that translated to more than nine feet of ocean water above normally dry ground in buildings that sit a few feet above sea level.

Many times throughout my life, I have seen images of hurricane, tornado and or earthquake damage through the eyes of other reporters. But this was the first time I had witnessed the recent aftermath in-person.

I have traveled through this area several times in recent years and to see the damage first-hand, two months after it occurred, is difficult to comprehend what it looked like immediately after it occurred. While Fort Myers Beach was ground-zero for Hurricane Ian, nearby Sanibel Island and Captiva were hit even worse. They have been so badly damaged, that two months later, the only people that can access those areas are those with “hurricane passes”- (emergency workers or are owners taking care of what is left of their properties.)

In various communities impacted by the storm, there are piles of rubble that stretch as tall as 10 feet high, miles along the roads, waiting for crews to come along to remove it to a landfill.

Piles Of Rubble from Hurricane Ian: Photo by Mike Smith/Hurricane Ian

The site of such destruction and the thoughts of those who lost property, and possibly even loved ones, can bring tears to your eyes. But moments later, you are feeling inspiration in watching those who are working to clean up the damage and try to rebuild homes and what used to be a popular vacation and retirement location for thousands of families- including many from Ohio.

In my brief drive through the area, I saw scores of FEMA, Red Cross, faith-based groups and professional contractors who are working to remediate the disaster area. I saw food trucks feeding the crews of workers, painted signs posted by residents thanking first responders and crews of workers trying to restore their community.

Fort Myers Beach Neighborhood flattened by Hurricane Ian: Photo by Mike Smith/Litter Media

Seeing this brings appreciation for the blessings of life, realizing that at any moment, it can all come crumbling down upon us.

As it is with many disasters, we are moved with compassion that drives us to want to help with donations to Red Cross or maybe even join volunteer crews that are working those sites. But months later, the news coverage turns elsewhere and we often forget those who are still struggling to rebound.

While the storm-damaged areas of Florida are receiving federal and state disaster aid, there is still so much more these funds will never cover. Not every person that lived or still lives in places like Fort Myers Beach or Sanibel are wealthy people. I have met many of these people over the years and they are middle class folks, just trying to live life like the rest of us in our home communities.

Seeing Fort Myers Beach reminds me there are many people who still need our prayers, along with other help. There are many ways we can help through volunteer disaster assistance, and sending donations to faith-based groups like Samaritans Purse or to American Red Cross Disaster Relief, who have been on the scene since the storm and say they will remain there for many months to come.

Fort Myers Beach empty lot, where once stood several home before from Hurricane Ian: Photo by Mike Smith/Litter Media
Large fishing boats tossed about by Hurricane Ian at Fort Myers Beach: Photo by Mike Smith/Litter Media

These empty stilts once held up a home site before being washed away in Hurricane Ian: Photo by Mike Smith/Litter Media

Pickaway Park District Seeks Feedback Through Online Survey

Article Presented By Hometown-Motors, Inc.

The Pickaway County Park District is seeking public input on the Districts Park Programs for 2022.

District officials say- “We will use this survey to improve programing in the future!”

The online survey can be found by CLICKING HERE:

You can also find the survey on website at their District website of www.pickawaycountyparks.org

Ohio Attorney General Offers Holiday Shopping Tips

Article Presented By Classic Brands

(Columbus) — Just in time for Black Friday, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has some helpful tips for consumers to avoid potential scams while gearing up for the holiday shopping season.  

“It certainly can be the most wonderful time of the year,” Yost said, “but a scam or a bad shopping experience has a way of quickly dampening the holiday spirit, bringing out the Grinch in us. Don’t let it happen to you.”

The Attorney General’s Office recommends that consumers:

  • Research sellers carefully. Search for complaints filed with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau. Also look up online customer reviews about the seller. 
  • Beware of scams. Watch for phony coupons. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary if someone asks you to pay using gift cards or wire transfers; both are commonly requested by scam artists.
  • Check return policies. In Ohio, sellers can set their own return policies, including policies of “no returns,” but any retailer whose policy limits your ability to obtain a refund must clearly notify you of that policy before you complete the purchase. Be sure to check return periods, which might change during the holidays.
  • Look for exclusions and limitations in ads. Important exclusions and limitations should be clearly disclosed. Check to see whether an offer is valid only during certain hours, only limited quantities are available, or other terms and conditions apply. If a seller advertises a product at a certain price but sells out by the time you respond to the ad, you may have the right to a rain check. However, sellers are not required to provide rain checks if they clearly disclose the number of goods available at that price or if they clearly state that no rain checks will be given.
  • Understand differences among gift cards. Not all gift cards have the same features or functions. A gift card that is branded by a credit card company and can be used almost anywhere may reduce in value faster than a single-store gift card. Promotional cards, such as those that come free with a purchase, may not carry the same protections as other cards and may last only a short time. If you receive a gift card, it’s generally best to use it as quickly as possible to reduce the chance that it will be lost, stolen or otherwise reduced in value.
  • Consider paying with a credit card, if possible. Paying with a credit card usually offers greater protection from unauthorized charges compared with other kinds of payment methods. In general, with a credit card, your responsibility for unauthorized charges is limited to $50 and you have certain rights to dispute charges that you may not have with a debit card or other form of payment.
  • Monitor your accounts. Regularly check your credit card and bank accounts for unauthorized charges or unexpected activity. If you find problems, immediately notify your credit card provider or bank. The sooner you identify a problem, the sooner you can correct it.

Additionally, Cyber Monday holiday shoppers should consider these tips:

  • Keep cybersecurity in mind. When shopping for deals online, don’t use free public Wi-Fi when entering sensitive information such as a credit card number. Keep apps, software and operating systems up-to-date and use secure websites whenever you need to enter personal information.
  • Beware of e-skimming while shopping online. Cybercriminals can capture credit card and personally identifiable information by skimming your data online. Look for the “s” in “https” to ensure that a website is secure, and always double-check that the site you’re on is the company’s official (legitimate) site. Also, use credit cards instead of debit cards; credit cards have more safeguards.
  • Check delivery dates and fees. Carefully review the expected delivery date and shipping costs before making a purchase. Find out whether you’ll be charged shipping or restocking fees if you return the product. Also, pick up delivered packages promptly so they’re not stolen or damaged outside your door.
  • Beware of package tracking or account freezing scams.  You may receive texts or emails alerting you of a shipping delay or that your account has been frozen. You may be asked to provide personal information or to click on a link for additional information. But providing personal information or clicking on unknown links could lead to financial harm or infect your computer with malware. Don’t click on links if you’re not sure who they are from.

Consumers who suspect an unfair business practice or want help addressing a consumer problem should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515.

Party With A Purpose

Article Presented By Accurate Heating, Cooling & Plumbing

Join the Westfall community for a night of food and fun, including a live, silent, Chinese auctions, and fun games to win prizes in order to help create opportunities for students at Westfall Schools. Help celebrate honored guest, Keith Downing on February 25th, for all his contributions to Westfall Schools.

Keith is a graduate of Miami Trace, Rio Grande, and University of Dayton. His illustrious teaching and coaching career spanned 30 years.  This included 15 years at Westfall High School- where he taught Business classes and then classes for Pickaway Ross and then 15 years at Circleville. His amazing coaching career at Westfall started as an assistant football coach under Clarence Perry then he became the head coach.  His record over 13 years was (95-34).  This included 7 SVC Championships and the first State Playoffs for Westfall in 1996 and then made it to the State again in 2012.  These great years at Westfall also included 7 years as SVC Coach of the Year, one year as Central District Coach of the Year and Assistant Coach for the Big 33 Game in 1994. And, in his spare time at Westfall he was the freshman baseball coach for 3 years and Jr. High track coach for 1 year. In addition to the many great years at Westfall, he then went on to coach football for Circleville for 15 years.

Keith’s wife, Nancy is a Westfall School Nurse.  They have 2 children and 4 grandchildren.

EVENT INFO:
-Individual Tickets $50
-Group Tickets (Table of 6) $300
-Social hour starts at 5pm
-Dinner starts at 6:30pm
-Featuring live, silent, Chinese auctions, and fun games to win prizes.
-Attendees must be 21 years or older.

SPONSORS:
Interested in becoming a sponsor? Contact the WEF at WestfallEducationFoundation@gmail.com or Contact Kay Swaney swaneyk2@msn.com, or call (614) 402-4038.

With the proceeds from this event, the Westfall Education Foundation provides resources and grant monies for students and teachers in the district. In addition, they provide several service scholarships to students in the district annually.

Help continue the mission to enhance the existing educational programs, partnerships, and collaborations to improve the quality of the education for all children in the Westfall Local School District.