Minnesota natives in Florida see damage of Hurricane Ian firsthand

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Aerial videos and photographs are documenting a path of destruction in Hurricane Ian’s wake.

“It looks like a bomb went off,” says Trey Titcomb, who lives in Naples, Florida. “There’s debris everywhere.”

From their home, through a pool house screen and the front door — Megan and Trey Titcomb shot video of wind-whipped trees and flooded streets.

“Complete disaster zone,” Titcomb declares. “We spent yesterday morning helping neighbors pull down palm tree branches in their yards. Crazy amounts of debris everywhere, sand everywhere.”

The couple and their three kids moved to Naples in March of 2020.

They say by the time evacuation alerts went out, the storm had already moved in.

“They didn’t start evacuations until after 5 p.m.,” Megan recalls. “The storm was already blowing in. The roads were impassable. The rain was going sideways. So our choices were, get in the car, run out of gas in a tornado zone, or stay in our brand new home, where we felt pretty safe with impact resistant glass.”

So they stayed.

But in another part of town, high waters began rising around Janet Stivers’ house.

Then, she says, the power went out — and it hasn’t come back since.

 “It’s difficult, ’cause there’s no electricity,” Stivers, originally from Shakopee, says. “We have water, thank God, but of course, can’t drink the water, you have to boil it.”

She says it was difficult to watch as the waters rose, inch-by-inch, coming close to her front door.

But soon, floodwater began creeping into her garage.   

“In the garage, it was a couple of feet,” Stivers recalls. “Your vehicles are sitting in water and yeah, the electronics and everything gets wet.”

She says she doesn’t know if her cars will run again.

Meanwhile, in Orlando, some roads are still several feet underwater.

Mackenzie Fuchs and her family moved to the area from St. Cloud in July.

She says they got very lucky during this storm, with only some slight water damage — and no loss of electricity.

“We live really close to Disney and their power systems are underground,” Mackenzie explains. “So that’s why we were able to keep power the whole time.”

She says many streets, and highway ramps remain closed.

Mackenzie says many gas stations are shut down as well.

She says the waiting — as Ian began closing in — was among the worst parts of this.

“That type of feeling, what I can relate it to, is somebody from Minnesota waiting for a big snowstorm coming in,” Mackenzie notes. “You know it’s going to happen, but you don’t know what it’s going to bring. How long you’re going to be stuck in your house.”

All three families say they’re grateful the damage to their homes wasn’t worse.

They all made the choice to shelter in place — although the Titcombs say if they had an adequate warning, they would have evacuated.

“We were driving down roads with no power, no street lights, and roads that were covered in branches and sand as far as I-75, which is miles from the beach,” Megan Titcomb says.

Stivers calls the last few days difficult and exhausting — and sympathizes for anyone forced to evacuate.  

“It’s extremely emotional and everybody’s belongings. You really don’t know what to do, except to try and clean up,” she says. “We saw many people walking chest-deep through water. It was very hard to watch families walking by, with children, and their animals. It’s heart-wrenching.”