FORT MYERS, Fla. — Robert Long, an employee at Swap Shop Antiques in Fort Myers Beach, Florida, had to make split-second decisions and hope for the best when Hurricane Ian arrived in the state.
"The day of the storm, just like everyone else, (I) was just watching the news, watching the NOAA infrared radar just tracking the storm," he said.
But Long may have spent too much time tracking the storm. Before he knew it, Ian was in his backyard.
"I realized the hurricane is right there, it's here, it's finally here," he said. "I'm inside my place and I'm supposed to be evacuated and I'm not evacuated because I work here as security and maintenance and I'm not going to leave my bosses."
With nowhere to go and his life on the line, he grabbed a small dinghy, with no paddles, nearby.
Long tied the small boat to the frame of a pickup truck and waited to see if the last-minute preparations he made were enough.
"I was sitting in the bow of the boat with everything going on trying to ... keep my head from getting knocked off," he said.
Alone amid the high winds and fast-moving water, Long feared no one would be able to help him.
"There's nobody in the world that's going to be able to come and help me right now, you can't call anybody, you can't go anywhere in the boat because the wind is so strong," he said. "There's no way to do anything except die out there."
Then the corner of the Swap Shop building ripped open and Long saw that as his escape.
"I've got faith in this building because I got nothing else," he said.
Long luckily survived to tell his tale of experiencing Hurricane Ian's ferocity and said that for anyone in the future who is in the path of an approaching storm, it's important to remain aware of your own safety.
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