Chicago natives pick up the pieces after Hurricane Ian's destruction

ByDiane Pathieu, Eric Horng, and Christian Peikos WLS logo
Saturday, October 1, 2022
Chicago natives pick up the pieces after Ian's destruction
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Chicago area natives are recovering after Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida and then the Carolinas this week.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago area natives are recovering after Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida and then the Carolinas this week.

LaGrange natives Deb and Joe Long are spending their third night in the dark in storm-ravaged Fort Myers after riding out the hurricane in a closet.

"We had the dog and the cat in there with us, and we just stayed. We were in there for ours," Deb Long said. "We're very blessed. We didn't have a lot of damage. We didn't get a lot of water."

Others were less fortunate. Crown Point firefighter Ryan Cusack and his K-9 Jake are part of FEMA's search and rescue response in Florida. They must be prepared for any circumstances, from collapsed buildings to flooded homes and more.

Others hunkered down in the Carolinas.

"It was a bit of a surprise," Amy Langstone, a Chicago native now living in South Carolina, said. "We knew a tropical storm was coming, but we didn't know it would build back up to a category one, so everyone here is hunkering down it's too late for any evacuation orders."

Langstone moved to South Carolina 20 years ago.

Multiple deaths reported after Hurricane Ian slams into Florida

She and her family live about 15 miles from the shore near Charleston.

While speaking with ABC7, a flash flood warning went off and the winds picked up.

Hurricane Ian strengthens before SC landfall; FL rescues continue as death toll rises

"I am worried about trees falling on the house," Langstone said. "That is my main concern."

Across South Carolina, 211,000 are in the dark and trees are down after the storm made landfall earlier Friday afternoon near Georgetown, about 60 miles northeast of Charleston.

The state remains under both hurricane and storm surge warnings.

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"Everybody puts in the lawn furniture, secures as much as they can outside, we don't want anything blowing in projectile," Langstone said. "We do get water. We tend to fill up water bottles, just to have them and we buy some water. We fill bathtubs, not necessarily for drinking but in case we lose water and power."

South Carolina schools switched to e-learning Thursday to get ready for Friday.

In the meantime, recovery efforts continue in Florida, where stranded pets are expected to arrive at local Chicago shelters starting Saturday.

Flights to and from Florida resumed Friday at Chicago O'Hare after airports in the state were shut down for days because of hurricane Ian.

Jim Walsh was one of many hurricane-weary travelers arriving at O'Hare Friday after Ian pounded Florida leaving catastrophic damage across the state.

More than 1.7 million customers are still without power. More than 100 ComEd workers from Illinois are in the region to help.

"Lines down, transformers down," said John Schoen, ComEd spokesperson. "A lot of times for a storm like that, you'll see whole portions of a power grid taken down."

And volunteers from PAWS Chicago leave in the morning for Florida to bring animals back to Illinois in the aftermath of the storm.

"What we need to do is go down there and make room by pulling the animals that are already waiting in the shelters for homes, so that all these newly-displaced pets have somewhere to go," said Susanna Wickham, CEO of PAWS Chicago.

"This was the first Hurricane advisory that I was kind of nervous about," Walsh said. "I've lived in Florida all my life."

Walsh lives in New Port Richey Florida, about 50 miles north of Tampa.

"A lot of us in the Tampa Bay area are kind of experiencing some guilt because all week the models were saying direct hit for Tampa and we were prepared," Walsh said. "I think the storm may have caught some off guard."

President Biden has called the damage from Ian among the worst in the nation's history.