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'I was nervous, I was scared': Former Iowans react to Hurricane Ian

Former Iowa residents talk with Local 5 about preparing for the storm and anticipating the damage.

FLORIDA, USA — As Hurricane Ian touched down on the cost of Florida, it was the first hurricane Pam Cooper and her family experienced. 

Pam and her husband, Jack, moved to Clearwater, Fla. a month ago. Her daughter, Hailey, and her son, Carson, moved to the "Sunshine State" three months ago.

The family evacuated from their homes Monday and fled to Palm Bay, on the east coast of Florida.

"It was a little nerve-wracking," Pam said. 

"I was nervous," Hailey said. "I was scared."

Pam noted as Hurricane Ian continued to increase in severity, the most difficult part about preparing for this storm has been deciding who they should listen to.

"Being new here, we weren't exactly sure where to get our information and it was changing so much and we get mixed messages of 'you're fine, you guys should stay put' and 'no, you should get out," Pam said. 

The former Johnston resident said she and her family have stocked up on lots of water and food just to be safe and are hunkering down until the storm is over. 

Other Iowa natives, such as Jeffrey Baker, are also expressing concern. Baker currently lives in Cape Coral, Fla. and has seen first hand the amount of destruction. 

"It's going to take time," Baker said. "There's a lot of damage down here. And by the time you get through the insurance and the adjusters... it just takes a lot of time. We're not talking weeks, you're talking months." 

Even as some former Iowans hunker down, Linda Larsen is hoping to get home to Sarasota, Fla. as soon as possible. 

Larsen flew out of Des Moines Wednesday morning and headed to Atlanta. It was the furthest south she could fly.

She did this so once the storm passes, she can quickly get home and assess the damage. 

"I live in a condominium and we're on the water, so [I'm wondering], will the parking lots be flooded? Can I even park my car and get upstairs?" Larsen said.

Even amidst the chaos, Iowa native and Sarasota resident Andrea Melendes has a more positive message. 

"Just the lead up to it is the worst; the anxiety and the anticipation that comes along with that," Melendes said. "Once it's actually here, you can deal with it."

For Iowans interested in supporting Floridians affected by Hurricane Ian, Melendes said the answer is simple. 

"Just coming down and being good Iowans that we are and helping out will be much appreciated." 

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