CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. - August 13th marks the day Suncoast residents remember a hurricane named Charley. It roared ashore in Charlotte County on that Friday the 13th as a compact, yet powerful, Category 4 hurricane.
It was forecast to hit near Sarasota and Manatee counties, but made a last minute turn to the northeast and devastated Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte.
Thousands of homes were damaged, many of them rendered unlivable. Mobile home parks were no match for Charley's 150 mile an hour winds.
Hundreds of businesses were destroyed, along with many of Charlotte County's schools -- eight of which had to be rebuilt.
Even the county's emergency operations center was torn apart.
But Charley wasn't done yet. It followed the Peace River into Arcadia and still packed strong enough winds to cause extreme damage, even taking the roof off the Turner Center, which was Arcadia's only shelter, where 1,400 evacuees thought they were safe.
Somehow, no one was hurt.
It took years for the region to recover. Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda have rebuilt; new schools, new fire stations and yes, a new storm-proof Emergency Operations Center have gone up.
And two and a half years after Charley, a new Turner Center Arena opened in Arcadia.