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Utahns with family in Florida keep close tabs on Hurricane Ian

Posted at 9:40 PM, Sep 29, 2022

MURRAY, Utah — Hurricane Ian continued to make its way through Florida on Thursday, after making landfall on Wednesday as a category 4 storm.

Back here in Utah, Laci Southerland has been keeping an eye on the storm from her home in Grantsville.

"Not close tabs, I lived and breathed it," said Southerland.

Southerland's family is from Utah originally. She says most of them moved to Naples, Florida, near Fort Myers, 15 years ago.

"Pins and needles is an understatement of what you go through," said Southerland.

She says her family rode out Hurricane Irma, five years ago, when it made landfall south of Naples as a category five.

"They said they would never do it again, they'd leave everything," said Southerland.

However, she says, they chose to hunker down during another storm.

Southerland says she spoke with her parents at 1 p.m. on Wednesday. It wasn't until seven hours later that she says she heard from them again.

"The first message I actually got was from my mother which was about six o'clock at night, we're alive," said Southerland.

The damage left behind in Naples from the storm, Southerland says, is devastating.

"They at certain points had six, to seven to eight feet of water, which is at least one floor," said Southerland.

It was something Clearfield resident Judy Hawkins has also been dealing with while in Destin, Florida.

She's struggled to get a hold of her family and friends in Plant City, which was in the path of Hurricane Ian.

"It was just really hard not being able to speak to either one of them, no phones, you know, no power, my best friend still doesn't have any power," said Hawkins.

Hawkins shared a few photos that she was able to get from some of her friends after the storm blew through, showing downed trees.

"I hope the first thing that they do is get their power up and running and get some sense of normalcy," said Hawkins.

For others, like Southerland, she is grateful her family is okay.

"Florida is absolutely resilient, the people, the community, I mean everybody down there is so good with everybody else that they're going to make sure that everybody's taken care of," said Southerland.

Southerland says she plans to fly out to Naples to be with her family as soon as she can, to help them through the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.

A handful of American Red Cross volunteers from here in Utah have been down in Florida helping those who are impacted by the storm.

If you are looking to help those who are in need during this time, you can visit https://www.redcross.org/donate/donation.html/