Clive Daniel Home co-founder Daniel Lubner stayed overnight in the company's Fort Myers warehouse — one of three the company owns — during Hurricane Ian.
As the storm approached Sept. 28, Lubner, his wife, two of his children and their dog retreated to the Clive Daniel Home warehouse, where they stayed with six other families until the storm passed. After spending time together during the natural disaster with both friends and strangers, Lubner says “those strangers are lifelong friends now."
The group included three generations tied to a CDH warehouse manager, a friend of Lubner who brought her mom and another friend who brought her family, parents and a few neighbors. Also among the mix were three dogs. The Lubners invited everyone they could to join them at the warehouse, as it provided plenty of space and, of course, lots of furniture options, including mattresses taken down to be slept on in the accounting offices. Though there wasn't a lot of peaceful sleeping that night, Lubner says.
“It was a blur,” he says of the day they spent in the warehouse. The children played hide and seek to pass the time, and the Lubners brought King Hawaiian rolls to snack on.
“The conversations were light,” he says. “In my mind all of my buildings were gone. It was nice to have a human moment.”
Being worried about CDH buildings was especially heightened since the company just opened its third showroom, in Sarasota, Sept. 8.
Lubner, who’s been in the area since he was a child in 1978, says the first hurricane his company really went through was Hurricane Charley in 2004. “We kind of knew how to react to a hurricane,” he says of the experience.
When Hurricane Ian was threatening a presence on the west coast of Florida, Lubner’s plan of action was setting up communication lines. Team leaders were assigned to a number of people to check on and pass on information before, during and after the hurricane, and phone trees were set up to “assess how everyone was doing,” Lubner says.
But as millions lost power across the state, Lubner says it was a challenge getting a hold of anyone. “It was a lot of long, trying hours,” he says.
After the storm passed, Lubner got to work on finding out if his team was OK. For those who lost homes, Clive Daniel Home helped figure out housing situations within the first 24 hours. Filling those homes and replacing furniture was a much easier task, as Lubner says the warehouses, left untouched by the storm, are filled with stock.
“This is an amazing part,” Lubner says of the damage CDH endured. Every warehouse and showroom remained untouched. Even though several neighboring businesses endured flooding, all of CDH locations remained “bone dry.” Lubner adds that Fort Myers-based Stevens Construction built the warehouse he stayed in, and that he “would have them build anything for me the way that building held up.”
Then once employees were taken care of and safe, the company started assisting the community, using its trucks to distribute supplies and materials. “We’re not afraid to get our hands dirty,” he says.
Clive Daniel Home has been helpful for clients filing insurance claims, going as far as to help them navigate the claims process, providing replacement goods and helping new clients put together a quote to send to insurance providers. “It’s going to be a long, slow rebuild,” Lubner says.
Before Hurricane Ian, the company spent time following the news, securing everything in the warehouses and showrooms and ensuring everyone had supplies necessary to make it through the storm.
“We all know families who lost their homes,” he says. “This one should be personal for everyone. This is our opportunity to lend a hand to our neighbors.”