Former Mobile resident talks about riding out Ian at home in Sarasota

Updated: Sep. 30, 2022 at 5:38 PM CDT
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(WALA) - Jonathan George is used to hurricanes, having grown up in Sarasota and lived in Mobile during college and a few years afterward.

George said Florida residents tend to be blasé about storms because they see so many of them. But he said he and his parents didn’t take Hurricane Ian lightly.

“Floridians always, you know, they always joke about not taking it seriously,” he told FOX10 News. “You know, and it’s always a party and hurricane parties, this and that, you know. But we last minute saw that it was supposed to hit Sarasota, and everybody was kind of freaking out. So we hunkered down; we just stayed in.”

George, who graduated from the University of Mobile in 2017 and lived in the area until a better job brought him home three or four months ago, said this storm was different. He recalled Hurricane Charley wreaking havoc in 2004 when he was 9 years old. But that storm actually could fit inside the eye of Ian.

George and his parents nervously watched the track as the projected path shifted from Tampa to Sarasota and then further south. That spared the George family of the worst.

“I hate to say we were lucky,” he said. “But we really got lucky with this.”

George said a couple of screens blew off the house, and he described downed tree limbs and lots of debris. But the neighborhood fared well other than that, he said. He said the question now is how long the power will be out.

“You know, we haven’t gotten any update, which is odd,” he said. “I actually drove my mom to work yesterday and today ‘cause she works at the hospital, and quite a bit of neighborhoods around us – I think pretty much every neighborhood in our area has power except for us.”

Cell coverage also is spotty. George was able to talk to FOX10 news over the phone but could not text or access email.

George, who works as a sales representative for a sports company, said he has vivid memories of playing an Xbox as Hurricane Charley came in. That storm pummeled his home area. His father was a firefighter; his mother a nurse.

“We hunkered down in my mom’s hospital, and I mean, you know, we’d get up here and there for my dad because he was out working,” he said. “And it was just, I mean, he had seen so many different things that were just so scary.”

Florida will be dealing with the aftermath of Ian for quite some time. Preliminary estimates peg the economic damages as high as $65 billion. George said his family plans to deliver food and contribute money to help people who fared much worse from the storm’s wrath.

“My prayers go out to, you know, people north and south of us, to be honest,” he said.

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