“Develop a plan. Execute it. And stick with it.” This was the statement my friend and fellow Ironman competitor Karen Tamson and I agreed upon as Hurricane Irma set upon our town, Naples, Fla.

While Tamson and her family fled to Tampa, my mother in law, my step daughter and her family of four hunkered down with my wife and I. Along with two dogs and a cat, our fortress was a two bedroom, second floor condo, right on the border of the evacuation zone in East Naples. The structure was built as a solid concrete building with recently installed hurricane windows. We survived the storm.

We did not ever think that Naples would be on a direct hit from Hurricane Irma. This was the largest known hurricane in modern recorded history which covered the entire state of Florida. This was also the largest mass evacuation of residents ever in any one state in anticipation of a potentially devastating hurricane. And being on the second floor would hopefully protect us from all flooding which was expected from the back end of the hurricane. Thankfully, there was no flooding around the condo complex.

A utility employee works to restore phone and data service for a neighborhood after Hurricane Irma in Fort Myers, Fla., on, Sept. 13, 2017.
A utility employee works to restore phone and data service for a neighborhood after Hurricane Irma in Fort Myers, Fla., on, Sept. 13, 2017. Bloomberg News

Even as Irma hit, I was still able to connect with a couple of seasonal “snowbird” clients who happened to be in the Midwest to escape the typical summer heat. They knew what was going on, but yet I was able conduct “normal” business with them, as they did not need to worry about Hurricane Irma.

The aftermath
Today, we can call ourselves survivors of Hurricane Irma. It was a stressful and horrific experience. We are still without power, but our home is intact and without any damage. Lots of downed trees. I hear generators still running, but glad that power is being restored in many of our communities in Southwest Florida. On many occasions I get to witness helicopters buzzing above providing relief to our area. And to see the Florida Power & Light trucks running around town is a welcoming sight for sure.

Slideshow
Hurricane Irma: 10 challenges for employers
Unemployment benefits, leave of absences and calculating wages are among the issues likely to affect companies in the wake of the storm.

Going forward, we can certainly say that our communities have come together. I have a feeling that a different kind of compassion will be generated from this recent experience. I believe a new respect will be shared by many who have been helped by one another.

I can’t wait to get back to work next week to communicate my availability and willingness to serve any and all of my clients who are in need of assistance. This is our opportunity to rebuild Florida. This is an opportunity to rebuild our businesses.

This is our opportunity as insurance agents in Florida to make a difference in stabilizing the marketplace and assisting our individual and corporate communities with the impact left from Hurricane Irma.

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