'Felt like a freight train:' Milwaukee native living in Fort Myers recounts experience during Hurricane Ian

NOW: ’Felt like a freight train:’ Milwaukee native living in Fort Myers recounts experience during Hurricane Ian


MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Marshall Chay sits in the parking lot of a McDonald's in Fort Myers, Florida.

Above him, a bent sign advertising the restaurant, hangs crookedly on its pole. Below him, debris is strewn across the roadways. 

It's only been a couple of days since Hurricane Ian in the Sunshine State and Chay describes the damage as "devastating."

“There’s only about six gas stations that are open and the lines are about 100, 150 cars and so you’re waiting hours to get your car filled up," Chay said. "“I literally have to carry a bucket of water up 10 flights of stairs just to flush the toilets.”

Chay retired to Fort Myers about a year and a half ago, moving from Milwaukee where he's lived pretty much his whole life.

Although he's been a snowbird between Florida and Wisconsin for about 12 years, Chay said he's never experienced anything like Hurricane Ian. 

“It felt like a freight train," Chay said. “Pretty much the entire Lee County that I live in is without power.”

Chay said after speaking with locals and watching forecasts, he believed Fort Myers would only receive the outskirts of the storm -- some wind and some rain -- which is why he didn't evacuate.

"I should’ve evacuated. I should've been safer," Chay said, recalling holding a heavy door to his condo shut while 100+ mph winds whipped around. "I was afraid that the front door would buckle and open up. So initially, I held it closed by myself for about an hour and then I got tired. I ended up moving a very heavy piece of furniture on there so that it would not open up because once it opened up, I'm sure my condo would have been totally damaged."

Chay said at some points he feared for his life.

According to a Facebook video by the Lee County Sheriff's Office, there were at least 600 rescues made Saturday and dozens are dead. 

“I was definitely afraid that this was it," Chay said. 

Now he's encouraging those who are able to donate to send gasoline, generators and other essential goods to Floridians in need.

"A lot of these people lost everything. The shelters are here but it's just not enough to help everybody," Chay said. "Sometimes disasters like this brings people together."

Share this article: