UPDATED: 1960 Classmates Hit by Hurricane Ian

Devastation Caused by Hurricane Ian

Hurricane Ian roared ashore near Ft. Myers, Florida, on September 28, just before our class reunion. Stories about affected classmates trickled in throughout the weekend. 

Jim Hamilton, who moved from Ft. Myers Beach to Ft. Myers in the past year, was hit the hardest of our Florida classmates. Jim has written previously about his hurricane preparations, which were calm and routine responses to the often alarmist media reports. Hurricane Ian was different.

Rich Hayse talked with Jim by phone and shared this news during the Reunion Zoom session on Saturday, 10/1. “Jim had a first floor condo He said that when the water started to rise, he could not get any doors open. The water continued rising inside the condo, and he was trapped. Finally, one of the doors burst open, and he was able to get to higher ground. Jim said that he lost everything. Also, he said that he did not know that a refrigerator would float, but he says they do.”


Judy Seefeld Butz reported that her husband back in Sarasota, Florida, was safe in their home, which was intact, but without power. By Saturday, he had moved to a hotel and was comfortable.


Nancy Fulton Ingle rode out the storm with her usual panache. She told her story in an email on Friday, 9/28: “Oh thanks, Marilyn. I am fine.  We had some blowsy hours and too much rain but no power issues or flooding as they had in Orlando. My cement block house and cement tile roof have made it through their 14th hurricane.  I tell folks I put hot dogs in my pockets so the search dogs can find me.  Looking forward to a shower now that the sewers are not overwhelmed.  Kansas tornados are good prep for hurricanes.  Enjoy the reunion!   Fondly, Nancy”

Lee Ayres asked Ric Knorr how his place in Florida had fared. Ric replied, “Our home survived, but cars underneath the building are all lost. Fortunately, we didn’t have any cars there. There is a lot of devastation. Ft. Myers Beach, 35 miles northwest of us, is totally destroyed.”

Skip Granger had talked to Mike Elwell, who went to Roosevelt and is friends with many classmates. Skip called to see if Mike made it through the hurricane. He found Mike celebrating his 80th birthday in Denver, far from his home in St. Petersburg.

If you know more about classmates who survived Hurricane Ian, please get in touch with Marilyn (mbellert@niu.edu). 


Editor’s Note:  On October 7, 2022, we received the following email message from Jim Hamilton:

Hope the class reunion went well.

Day 9. We are slowly getting services back. Cable TV and internet, haven’t heard anything.
No elevators or safe water. But many areas are just gone.
These pictures tell the whole story.   Two of my favorites on Fort Myers Beach, plus the pier is GONE.
I’m OK.


  1. glenna park 1 year ago

    So glad for the report. Many of us watched in pure horror as the Gulf of Mexico trespassed into Florida. Jim Hamilton’s story is terribly scary and am glad he swam out. We all need to encourage our congresspersons to fund recovery programs all over the USA. We need to be very aware of the climate changes and the severity of seasons.

  2. Marcia L. Odonnell 1 year ago

    Praise the Lord. All are safe !

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