ROCHESTER, NY When Hurricane Ian hit the Gulf Coast of Florida, many people with ties to central and western New York were forced through the storm.
Wendy, the mother of News10NBC investigative reporter Jennifer Lewke, was at the family home in Venice, Florida when Ian left his home class. Wendy decided to leave the house in a low-rise neighborhood about 3 miles from the beach and move to a friend’s condo on the third floor of a newly built unit with hurricane-proof windows and generators.
“It’s getting pretty nasty here, so we’re a little worried, but we’re fine,” Wendy told her daughter around noon Wednesday. “The (cellular) towers are probably going to go down, they’re pretty sure about it, so we probably won’t be able to communicate for…it could take up to a week or so,” they said. But we’ll try, we’ll do our best and we’ll stay safe, so don’t worry Jennifer, we’re staying safe and it’s going to be okay, it really is.
About 10 miles down the road in Northport, Fla., Syracuse-area natives Jillian and Brian Treadway took every precaution possible to protect themselves and their home.
“We have the whole front closed, all the windows and everything,” Jillian told News10NBC. “We got things (pinned) that we could and if we couldn’t…that’s what it is.”
As a 911 operator in Sarasota County, Jillian is used to handling emergencies, but coincidentally, she’s on vacation this week.
“Being home for this one is a whole different thing,” she said. “I wish I was there, but at the same time I’m happy to be home with my family.”
Further south in Cape Coral, George Fenwick walked News10NBC around his screened-in back porch just as the eye approached.
“I hear a bang every once in a while and it’s probably a transformer popping,” he explained.
George did not initially evacuate because he too believed Hurricane Ian was about to hit Tampa until it moved further south.
“I have a closet in the master bedroom which is pretty well protected, I have now gutted it and covered it with mattresses, cushions, pillows, batteries, lights, radio and the dogs and will go in there if I ‘hear the freight train coming,’ he says.