Author Randy Wayne White survived Hurricane Ian’s assault on Sanibel

The Doc Ford’s owner and his wife, Wendy, couldn’t be reached for a while, but said he and his wife are “still here.”
Florida author Randy Wayne White, pictured on March 7, 2022 in Punta Gorda.
Florida author Randy Wayne White, pictured on March 7, 2022 in Punta Gorda. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Oct. 1, 2022|Updated Oct. 1, 2022

Hurricane Ian wasn’t the first time author Randy Wayne White decided to ride out a major storm.

But it’s one he won’t forget.

“I experienced a direct hit (during) Hurricane Charley 2004,” White sent Friday night in an email relayed from his sons on mainland Florida. “This was worse.”

White, 72, author of the popular Doc Ford book series, is a partner in the Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille franchise that has a location at the Pier in St. Petersburg. Like the fictional Ford, White lives on Sanibel Island; he and his wife decided not to evacuate for Ian. But that decision sparked fears among friends and fans when all communications from White, including social media, went dark on Wednesday.

“Aside from 2-meter radio VHF contact with Coast Guard, no communication possible,” he said.

Word the Whites survived began to spread on Friday. He’s still on the island, he said, but has radioed in helicopter evacuations for five other people. He knows of at least four people dead on Sanibel Island. But he said he and Wendy are “fine” and “still here.”

In 2007, White told the Times that Hurricane Charley’s eye passed directly over his Pine Island house in 2004, spawning tornadoes and collapsing houses next door and across the street. His house sat 20 feet above sea level, but lost part of its roof and saw extensive water damage inside. He rode out part of the storm in his car.

At the time, he said he would do it again if another storm came.

“I wouldn’t leave,” he said. “This house is solid.”

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Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Ian coverage

HOW TO HELP: Where to donate or volunteer to help Hurricane Ian victims.

FEMA: Floridians hurt by Ian can now apply for FEMA assistance. Here’s how.

THE STORM HAS PASSED: Now what? Safety tips for returning home.

POST-STORM QUESTIONS: After Hurricane Ian, how to get help with fallen trees, food, damaged shelter.

WEATHER EFFECTS: Hurricane Ian was supposed to slam Tampa Bay head on. What happened?

WHAT TO DO IF HURRICANE DAMAGES YOUR HOME: Stay calm, then call your insurance company.

SCHOOLS: Will schools reopen quickly after Hurricane Ian passes? It depends.

MORE STORM COVERAGE: Get ready and stay informed at