It seems as though we've dodged the bullet in Sarasota. The center of the storm--the eye, which is degrading--is now to the northeast. We're still concerned about bands of weather coming along the back side of Charley, but so far it's been not too bad.
Port Charlotte seems to have gotten really hammered, though. TV is reporting a collapsed nursing home and damage to a firestation, with injuries, just up the street. Emergency services are still hunkered down, though, and won't go out until winds drop to 45 mph, for their own safety.
An emergency shelter in Arcadia--a county east of Sarasota Co.--is reporting a buckled roof. It's not clear whether this is due to winds or rain. And the rains do continue. They're estimating 6-8 inches of rain for the general area. This is going to exacerbate the flooding that already exists, the result of rainstorms over the past couple of weeks.
I am concerned a bit for my brother and sister--and other friends--in Orlando. When they were evacuated out of Tampa, their group resettled in Orlando. Sort of resettling from the frying pan into the fire. That city is looking at major wind and rain over the next few hours.
Damage assessments won't start being done until tomorrow. It's going to be dark before the last of the storm finally passes. It'll be interesting to see how well new houses--built under post-Andrew hurricane codes--fared. It'll be a good test of basic services, too, as SW Florida hasn't had a major storm in nearly 40 years. There's been massive development and construction in the meantime, as well as a population boom. It'll also be interesting to see if buiding regulations for the barrier islands will need revision.
Unless and until something untoward happens, I think I have to call this storm over for my area. I'll pass the blogging on to people like Andrea Harris, who's blogging from Orlando