Upstate New Yorkers stuck in the path of Hurricane Ian

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — As Hurricane Ian smashed into Florida’s Gulf Coast, many people with connections to Central and Western New York were forced to ride out the storm.

News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke’s mother Wendy was at the family’s home in Venice, Florida, when Ian shifted from its original course. Wendy decided to leave the home in a low-lying neighborhood about 3 miles from the beach and go to a friend’s condo on the third floor of a recently built unit with hurricane windows and generators.

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“It’s getting pretty nasty here, so we’re getting a little concerned but we’re doing OK,” Wendy told her daughter around noon on Wednesday. “The (cell) towers are probably going to go down, they’re pretty sure, so we probably are not going to be able to communicate for … it could be up to a week or so they said. But we’ll try, we’ll do the best that we can and we’re staying safe, so don’t worry Jennifer, we’re staying safe and it’s going to be OK, it really is.”

About 10 miles down in the road in Northport, Florida, Jillian and Brian Treadway, originally from the Syracuse area, took all the precautions they could to protect themselves and their home.

“We’ve got the front all boarded up, all the windows and everything,” Jillian told News10NBC. “We got things (pinned) down that we could and if we couldn’t … it is what it is.”

As a 911 operator in Sarasota County, Jillian is used to emergency management but coincidentally, she’s on vacation this week.

“To be home for this one, it’s a completely different thing,” she said. “I kind of wish I was there but at the same time, I’m glad I can be home with my family.”

Further south in Cape Coral, George Fenwick walked News10NBC around his screened-in back porch just as the eye was approaching.

“I hear a bang every once in a while and that’s likely a transformer popping,” he explained.

George didn’t evacuate initially because he too thought hurricane Ian was on track to hit Tampa until it shifted further south.

“I have a master bedroom closet which is pretty well protected that is now I have emptied it and lined it with mattresses, cushions, pillows, batteries, lights, radio and the dogs and I will get in there if I hear the freight train coming,” he says.