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FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — Six months ago, George Andrad was fighting to stay alive as Hurricane Ian brought Category 4 winds and historic storm surge to Fort Myers Beach. His home flooded on the first floor before seawater began rushing onto the second floor. 

With nowhere else to go, Andrad jumped in the only buoyant thing in the house: the refrigerator. 

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Fort Myers Beach man survives Hurricane Ian by hiding in refrigerator 

His survival story is arguably one of the most incredible out there. Andrad recorded portions of his fight to survive before the water bounced him off the walls and ceilings while closed up inside the fridge. 

“I almost lost my life there. Just… scary,” Andrad said. “I still get some nightmares and s***.”

On the six-month anniversary of the storm, he walked through the decision to get into the fridge, giving a play-by-play of what went through his mind. 

“It’s the only thing I have near me. And I say, ‘This thing might float.’” So I guess I got to get into it.”

It’s only appropriate that a refrigerator would end up saving this sous chef’s life. 

“Hey, and it worked out for me and I’m glad I did it,” he said. 

Fast forward to today, the place he once called home is gone, totally demolished, with only sand sitting in its spot. 

“A few weeks ago they demoed the whole thing out,” Andrad said. “Actually, it feels better [because] when I go by there — nightmare.”

In the months that have passed, he’s slowly getting back on his feet. He’s back to work at the new Fresh Catch Bistro. 

Like his home, the old restaurant was destroyed by Hurricane Ian. 

While things are getting better, “normal” or even a “new normal” aren’t words he uses. 

“Not really. Not me and myself, personally. I’m still a little messed up,” Andrad said. “If I could get my house, it would be like my own life that I had before, it was awesome. It’s never going to happen, but I hope so. I always have faith.”

It’s that very faith that has helped George get to the six-month mark after the storm. It’s also what keeps him pushing forward each and every day. 

As the sun sets each day, the island is a little bit better than the day before, and he is too. 

“Don’t take for granted what we have. What you have or had, because you never know when it could be the end of the day, man,” Andrad said. 

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