OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Thursday morning Hurricane Ian was downgraded to a tropical storm and now more than 2.5 million people across Florida are without power. Ian was one of the most powerful storms to ever hit the country causing devastation and major flooding.
Wednesday afternoon the major Category 4 hurricane brought peak wind gusts of about 150 miles per hour. It made landfall in southwest Florida near Cape Coral and then tracked northeast through the state eventually impacting the Orlando area.
Some Oklahoma residents are in Florida right now and are experiencing some impact from the storm. KFOR spoke with two Oklahoma families who are stuck there Thursday because the airport is shut down.
“We got here last Thursday afternoon,” said Jared Shuger, Edmond resident.
“We didn’t hear anything about it until we were here. So it actually started the tropical storm like a day or two after we were here. And so, we kept watching it and that’s when we tried to get out Tuesday and couldn’t,” said Angie Shuger, Edmond resident.
The Edmond family is stuck at a Disney resort in the sunshine state after riding out Hurricane Ian.
The family said everything is shut down including gas stations.
“Everything is closed. It’s not even a gas station open. Nothing,” said Shuger.
Shuger said local Orlando officials are asking everyone to stay off the roads so emergency and utility crews can get to where they need without traffic interfering.
“There are a lot of water rescues. Somewhere downtown Orlando, they were saying the water was getting into second stories. It had risen so much; people were getting into their attics,” said Shuger.
About an hour away in Melbourne, is a couple from Choctaw. They came to Florida in search of a new home.
“We’re supposed to close on October 7th, and we don’t have a house. So we had already had this trip booked when I tried to change it,” said Genipher Krug, Choctaw resident.
They tried to change their flight last minute, but would’ve had to pay a hefty price, so they decided to make the trip anyway.
“It was going to cost a little over $2,500 to change everything. And so we were like, no, we’re just going to ride it out,” said Krug.
Aside from power outages at their Air B and B, they’ve also had trouble with cell service.
As for what it was like to go through a hurricane, Krug said, “The rain felt like BB’s. I mean, the wind was so strong.”
Both Oklahoma families told KFOR they are worried their flights back home may be canceled this week as the Orlando airport is still shut down.
“We may be flying out tomorrow night. We’re not sure yet,” said Krug.
“We’re supposed to fly out Saturday, so that’s the soonest they’re saying that we can get out of here,” said Shuger.
Also in Fort Myers, are my grandparents. They live in Cape Coral and evacuated their home Wednesday morning to a friend’s home about 10 miles north.
The last time we heard from them was Wednesday night, but lost contact with them when winds hit 145 miles per hour. They told us they lost power and were unable to flush toilets.
My family has been concerned because they are elderly with health conditions.
News 4’s meteorologist, Arron Brackett says for the most part, the storm is done, but the floodwaters will take their time receding.
“The storm has gone out to sea right now, so flood waters are slowly coming down and first responders are beginning the task of checking up on everyone and clearing roads. They have a long road ahead of them,” said Arron Brackett, News 4’s meteorologist.
The Governors of the States of Georgia, Virginia and North and South Carolina have all declared states of emergency.
If you are looking for ways to help the victims of the hurricane, we want to let you know we’ve partnered with our sister station, WFLA in Tampa to gather donations for Red Cross relief efforts in Florida. You can click here for more information on how to contribute.