A family survives Hurricane Ian by clinging to a tree

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. – Mike Schuttig was staying at the Periwinkle Motel in Fort Myers Beach with his fiancé and dogs when Hurricane Ian ravaged Southwest Florida.

Shutig and his fiancee, Hope, watched as the gulf moved onto the beach, flooding the motel’s ground floor. Then the water went to the second floor.

“We took the dogs, Ginger and Gizma, and we were able to climb up onto the mattress — we had about 15 inches of water up to the ceiling at that point,” Shutig said.

That’s when Schuttig made the decision to climb onto the roof.

Now his two dogs and his fiancé were on the roof of the Periwinkle Motel.

“We’re hanging on the top of the roof like this, holding our dogs with one hand like this, and we’re clinging to the top of the roof,” Schuttig said.

Then the roof began to float down the road.

“It was crazy. Then all of a sudden the house turned,” Schuttig said.

Schuttig then held on to the thin palm tree for dear life.

“We grabbed two trees like this with our dogs between us and held on through the storm,” Schuttig said.

They hugged the trees for hours while they were beaten.

“I hear her go wow — oh, things just gushed into us,” Schuttig said.

Finally the storm passed and the water receded.

“Suddenly I reached up and I was on the ground. You know how happy I was at that moment,” Schuttig said.

Schuttig, Hope, Ginger and Gizmo made it out alive.

“I’ve lost everything in my life, but right now I couldn’t be happier because I’m alive, she’s alive, my dogs are okay, my sons are okay and that’s all that matters to me,” Schuttig said.

All that matters, life and family, because that’s what keeps you grounded.

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