North Texans Track Hurricane Ian's Destruction, Stay Connected With Loved Ones in Storm's Path

NBCUniversal, Inc.

As Hurricane Ian crossed the western Florida coast late Wednesday, North Texans with loved ones in its path are anxiously watching and waiting to see just how much damage it would bring.

Among them was Kelli Oakley. From Fort Worth, Oakley exchanged texts with her brother in Bartow, about an hour inland from Tampa, nearly all day.

“It’s scary because there’s nothing I can do being here,” she said.

Like millions of other Floridians, she said he’d spent the afternoon sandbagging the home he shares with his wife and two young girls, watching the rain blow in and wondering just how severe the storm would become as it approached.

“You kind of feel helpless when you can’t get to them and really do much but just hope for the best,” said Oakley.

Even for those in the storm’s path, much of Wednesday was a game of wait and see.

"It's exhausting,” said Michael Laplaca.

After attending school in Texas, Laplaca made Naples his home.

There, he chose to shelter in place when roads became crowded with those fleeing the state.

“You're anticipating the worst to happen and that is just draining on you. You don't sleep that well at night. You're waking up and trying to find out what the next update is and how much it’s going to really affect you,” he said.

That includes how long cleanup will take.

Texans are among those waiting to respond, including 500 Oncor linemen who deployed Wednesday before outages across Florida approached two million.

They joined other first responders and volunteer recovery groups from the Lone Star State, who alongside loved ones, were watching and waiting to help.

Contact Us