'We're very resilient,' say suburbanites in Florida who avoided the worst of hurricane's impact

  • Despite an evacuation order, Debbie Waidanz and her husband decided to stay put at their winter home in Marco Island, Florida. They said Hurricane Ian brought the worst flooding they've seen, with about seven inches of water, but otherwise, "we'll be fine."

    Despite an evacuation order, Debbie Waidanz and her husband decided to stay put at their winter home in Marco Island, Florida. They said Hurricane Ian brought the worst flooding they've seen, with about seven inches of water, but otherwise, "we'll be fine." courtesy of Debbie Waidanz

  • "We won't have mail for definitely a little while," says Debbie Waidanz, a suburban woman who spends her winters in Marco Island, Florida.

    "We won't have mail for definitely a little while," says Debbie Waidanz, a suburban woman who spends her winters in Marco Island, Florida. courtesy of Debbie Waidanz

 
BY JENNY WHIDDEN
jwhidden@dailyherald.com
Updated 11/30/2022 12:41 PM

Some suburban Chicago residents who are visiting or retired in Florida hunkered down Wednesday to wait out Hurricane Ian, but so far they have avoided the worst of the dramatic events.

One man who was waiting out Hurricane Ian is keeping calm thanks to more than six years as fire chief of the Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Fire Protection District.

 

Steve Guetschow spent nearly 12 years with the district before working with a Florida chapter of the American Red Cross as a disaster program manager. He is now retired in Venice, Florida, with his wife.

"With the experiences that I had in my previous careers, we're relatively calm," he said. "There's people throughout the state that have gotten a whole lot worse than we do, so I'm not going to get too worked up. We'll be in good shape."

The couple are not quite in the boundaries of an evacuation zone, so they ultimately decided to remain home. Having lost power yesterday afternoon, the Guetschows are using portable lighting and a generator, and they're keeping up to date by tuning in to their old transistor radio.

Debbie Waidanz, a suburban woman who spends her winters in Marco Island with her husband, lost power Wednesday afternoon. She said they experienced the worst flooding they've seen yet, with about seven inches of water covering their street and driveway and filling their garage, where they keep their two cars.

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Despite an evacuation order issued by the city, the couple decided to stay because Marco Island -- a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico off Southwest Florida -- was not in the hurricane's direct path.

Waidanz's uncle, however, lives in Pine Island close to where the storm first hit near Fort Myers and Cape Cod. Waidanz made arrangements for her uncle, who is 91 years old, to travel down and stay with her to ride out the storm.

"I think my kids in Illinois are a little bit more worried about us than we're worried about us. We're very resilient. We'll be fine," Waidanz said.

"We won't have mail for definitely a little while, but that's about it," she said.

The Waidanzes' mailbox is almost submerged in floodwaters.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Barb Cantrell, a Schaumburg native who now lives in Streamwood, is visiting her sister in Tampa for her niece's baby shower and her grand niece's second birthday party. Both sisters grew up in Schaumburg.

The family didn't lose power, though they are experiencing heavy rains and very strong winds.

With Cantrell's sister being heavily involved in taking care of the local cat population, the two prepared for the storm by feeding various cat colonies and trapping and sheltering many strays in the cat house that they have in the backyard.

"She's got a big heart for these cats, and she makes sure that they're OK. She ran out even this morning while it was raining and was able to get some of her colonies fed," Cantrell said yesterday afternoon. "Tomorrow morning we'll be up early and we'll be back out making sure that everybody eats again."

Cantrell said she is ultimately relieved she's visiting her sister during the storm, when she can help out rather than worry from far away.

"I'm glad that I was able to be down here and help. For me, it's better to be here than to be up north and not know what's going on," she said. "I'm concerned for all the people that were in the direct hit, and I'm also happy to see that my sister's neighbors all banded together to help each other."

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