Hurricane Charley slammed into Florida on Friday, August 13, 2004, and became known as the worst storm since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. There were 16 people directly killed by the storm. However, the numbers have continued to increase to 27 deaths, as residents expose themselves to the hazards of generators, removing trees with chain saws, and other perils related to the storm aftermath.
The American Red Cross estimates that Hurricane Charley destroyed more than 10,000 homes, and unless major repairs are made, another 16,000 are uninhabitable. To date, insurance companies are looking at claims of $10 billion or more, while the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved more than $24 million in disaster aid to 10,027 households after receiving over 93,000 applications.
In addition to the stories of tragedy, devastation, and even inconveniences from power outages and boiling water restrictions, there have also been remarkable stories of hope and goodwill. Many people have told how neighbors have helped with tree removal and volunteers have brought in ice. Others have reported how they spent the evening that Hurricane Charley arrived at home in prayer. One woman related to a local Orlando television news reporter that God did not throw the roof of a nearby church onto her house, but instead was with her when she was praying for protection in her bathroom.
Many of the signs and billboards in the area were no match for Hurricane Charley. However, one billboard resisted the 100-mile per hour winds of the eye wall of the storm. While the billboard still stands, the advertisement that was there when Hurricane Charley hit was pealed back to reveal an earlier message. When the sun rose the next morning on Sand Lake Road in Orlando the words on the billboard clearly read, "We need to talk, God."