Hurricane Ian takes its toll on those with connections to Southwest Florida

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Homes were submerged and cars were sent floating down streets Wednesday, following Hurricane Ian’s landfall in southwest Florida.

Inching it’s way northeast, Ian hit one of the most populated areas as a category 4 with steady winds at 150 miles-per-hour. More than one-and-a-half million homes do not have power as the hurricane still makes its way through Florida.

Like many native Minnesotans that call Florida home now, watching from a far has been tough for Rick and Brenda Anderson.

“When you leave down there, you initially have a sense of relief [that] I made the right decision,” Rick Anderson said about leaving their condo near Sanibel Island. “Then you get up here [to Minnesota], and you find out what’s happening in the exact spot where we live and you lose that sense of relief — you want to be back there to help.”

Evacuation orders were made for a large part of southwest Florida, many still stayed — including the Brant family, who have family ties to Minnesota.

“This one is going to be devastating for our area,” Annie Brant told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS from her 15th floor condo in Fort Myers.

The Brant’s condo overlooks the Caloosahatchee River — Wednesday afternoon, the river had taken over part of the city.

“We were listening to a story on the news about somebody who was trapped on their second floor of their home and the water was already up to their waist and they didn’t know what to do,” Brant said, adding: “Fire crews and first responders are taking cover as well. So it is very, very scary for the people who are living in it along the coast right now.”

You can help people affected by Hurricane Ian here.