Hurricane Ian damaged Matlacha resident's home, but left him with a surprise
Matlacha was among the hardest-hit areas of Southwest Florida, sustaining destroyed homes, wind-tossed boats in yards and washed away roads from Hurricane Ian's transit out of the Gulf of Mexico and across Florida.
Andrew Jarosh, a Matlacha resident for a dozen-and-a-half years, was one of the many residents of the quirky arts colony who suffered at the storm's hands.
His living quarters sustained wind and flood surge damage, leaving it uninhabitable. But, Jarosh, who recently came out of retirement to start a new job with Lee Health, said that rebuilding will happen.
"Only because we paid for lots of coverage for wind. And flood. And personal property," he said.
But while Jarosh can't live there in the meantime, Ian made sure something else took up residence: a ray, about two-and-a-half-feet-long, dropped into his now salt-water swimming pool.
"The first day I made it to my condo in Matlacha, three days after Ian, I came by boat ," Jarosh explained. "While surveying the damage, I saw the ray swimming, doing circular laps around the pool. I could not find a net because of the property destruction, and by the time I found one the next day, the ray, washed up into the pool from Matlacha Pass, was nowhere to be found."
Jarosh said he looked for the ocean-going critter every day since then during his daily visits but could not locate it. He thought the animal likely would be found dead at the bottom of the pool after it's drained.
"But on Saturday, while meeting with an adjuster, I pointed to the pool and how the saltwater intrusion meant big repairs. And then I saw him, and took two pictures of him happily swimming laps again," Jarosh said.
The Matlacha resident said he has received more "angst" from his Facebook followers over the ray than for his own residential loss.
"They said why don't you do a 'Steve Irwin' and wrestle him," Jarosh laughed.
On Sunday, back at his home for more cleanup and an attempt at "ray-netting," Jarosh said he saw that along with the ray there were also fish in the pool swimming amongst lawn furniture, a dumpster and other things Ian dumped into the pool.
The quick-moving ray however, eluded all attempts at "rescue," so for now Jarosh said he'll let the animal enjoy his swimming pool and figure out another way to get it back to the wider-open spaces of Matlacha Pass.
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