Rochester natives weather the hurricane along Florida’s Gulf Coast

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Coastal towns across South Carolina are bracing as Ian strengthened back into a hurricane on Thursday.

At the same time, those on Florida’s Gulf Coast are only beginning to see the damage left behind after the Category 4 storm barreled onshore there Wednesday. News10NBC has been in close contact with people in Ian’s path who have connections to the Rochester region.

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Jill Havens moved from the Manchester-Shortsville area to Cape Coral, Florida, less than a month ago. She evacuated before the storm hit at the urging of her parents who live on Pine Island, which is a nearby barrier island.

“I mean, I had only been down here for less than a month so I don’t know … give me a blizzard or something like that and I can handle it, but talking about a hurricane I have no idea,” she tells News10NBC.

Cape Coral ended up right in the destructive path of Ian.

“The eye of the storm went right directly over my house,” Havens says. She hasn’t made it back to assess the damage yet.

Susan Lamme, originally from Penfield, never left her home in Cape Coral. She rode out the storm inside and when she went out to assess the damage at sunrise on Thursday, “it looks like a third world country,” she tells News10NBC.

“Most of our roof is gone,” she continued. “The pool pump, the water pump, the well pump, our pool cage is destroyed. … Most people have lost most of their roofs. There’s trees on houses, trees on cars. It’s just an absolute disaster.”

Lamme was on a group text with her friends and it seems she was actually one of the lucky ones.

“One of my co-workers, most of her house collapsed with her in it but she just got scraped up,” she said. “Another one they filled with water and they vacated. I don’t know where they went we haven’t heard from her. Another co-worker lost her pool cage but everybody as far as we know except for one we haven’t heard from is OK.”

Havens and her parents are trying to stay in touch with neighbors but reception is spotty at best and the news is not good.

“There’s only one way on and off Pine Island and much like Sanibel, that road is completely gone,” Havens said. “There is no way for them to get over to check on their place or for the people who are stuck on the island to get off to get help.”

For the next few days the family will stay at the hotel they booked a few hours away but Havens is also concerned because her new job is at a yacht club in Punta Gorda, another town smashed by Hurricane Ian. And she has no idea whether that club is even still standing.

“I probably don’t have a job at this point right now,” she says. Still, Havens said she’s thankful her family is safe.