Hurricane Ian hits snowbirds and travel company plans vacation

As Hurricane Ian made landfall on Wednesday, it is impacting those here at home, like snowbirds and those planning vacations.

“It’s very scary for people who have to be there during that,” Cadillac’s Connie Shepard said.

Connie and her husband Tom are glued to the television as they watch the path of Hurricane Ian.

“They show Sebring now at 25 mph wind, and it’s 20 to about 30 miles south of us,” Tom said.

While the Shepards spend their summers in Cadillac, they spend their winters at their Central Florida home.

“We have a modular home, and we’re in a small park with 160 homes,” Connie said. “We’ve been going there for 22 years.

However, this is not the first hurricane they have encountered. Their home was damaged in Hurricane Charley and Jeanne in 2004.

“The last one we went through was 130 mph winds, and we had very minimal damage,” Tom said. “I fixed it myself.”

They worry about their neighbors back in Florida.

“You hope you don’t have damage, you hope your friends don’t get hurt or anything, no devastation,” Connie said.

Travel is on hold for the time being, but what the next two months will look like is a question for travel agencies.

“They’ve definitely been considering booking, not so much November yet, but definitely Christmas,” Travel Smart of travel agency Jess Jessica Pangborn said. “I’m sure travel will definitely be impacted for Christmas travel.”

Pangborn, of Mesick, says Florida’s tourism industry remains positive during this time.

“Universal, Disney, they’re looking at reopening on Friday,” Pangborn said. “I know they’re going to have to assess the damage as the hurricane makes its way.”

For those currently stuck in Florida, Pangborn says working with a travel agency can help find shelter during the hurricane.

“We always have a ‘plan b’ and we always monitor weather and events that may impact travel and experiences,” she said.

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