FORT MYERS, Fla. – A man and his cat rode out the fury of Hurricane Ian last week in his sailboat, which was his home before the storm.
Ian was a monstrous Category 4 hurricane with 150-mph winds when it slammed into Southwest Florida on Sept. 28. The terrible winds pushed ashore feet of water from the Gulf of Mexico as it made landfall. Widespread destruction was left behind.
Ron Latta, of Fort Myers, said he had been living in his 32-foot boat named "Lattatude" for four years, and decided to stay with his home.
"You don’t leave your boat," Latta told FOX Weather correspondent Max Gorden on Monday. "I mean, it’s all I have."
Latta said he knew things were getting bad about 10 a.m. the day of landfall as the wind and storm surge increased. By that point, it was too late for Latta to make it to shore.
"It was horrifying," he said. "It really was. It lasted like 12-14 hours."
Latta said he believes the eye of Ian never passed over his location, meaning he survived the storm’s eyewall – where the worst weather of a hurricane typically occurs. He said winds were 40-50 mph at one point before jumping to near 150 mph. He said he was forced to shove off from a building to prevent his boat from being destroyed.
"I’m glad I was here because if I wasn’t on the boat, I would’ve lost my boat," he said.
The boat finally settled in a stand of mangroves. Latta said a crane is arriving soon to hoist his boat of the trees.
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Latta said a person would be crazy to not be scared in that situation, and he’s thinking about finding a place to live on land now.
"I’m not living on my boat, no more," he said.
The cat slept through most of the storm, Latta said.