CENTRAL ILLINOIS, Ill (WCIA)– Last week we were supposed to do a Zoom interview with a U of I grad stuck in Florida before Hurricane Ian hit Fort Meyers, Florida, but Maddy Chemers lost reception.  

Before the call she sent us videos of her apartment full of water and the bunker she made in her closet.  

“I tried sending them over Snap Chat, and I tried to create a private story so that I could share them,” said Chemers. “It was hard, and as soon as I was able to share them, I immediately lost reception.” 

She went without cell service for 24 hours, and while she got back hers sooner than others, family and friends had no idea how she was doing during that time. Meanwhile, the whole country was watching the storm hit the city she lives in from a TV screen. 

“I drove a few miles away from my apartment just to find reception, I sat in a parking lot and called my parents,” said Chemers.  

Luckily, Chemers apartment complex is on the same grid as a nearby hospital, so her power came back quickly. But she still is without safe water.  

“We can’t drink the water still, and the water pressure isn’t very good, and we’re told to conserve water as much as possible,” said Chemers.  

Chemers says she didn’t realize the effects of the storm until she went outside and saw the damage.  

“The traffic lights weren’t only out, but they were dangling in the street and stop signs completely fell to the ground,” said Chemers. “A lot of these signs and businesses were completely ripped apart; it was jarring because the last time I had been outside, it was completely normal,” said Chemers. 

 We also check in with Sharon Koontz, a Decatur woman who went to Florida for her daughter’s birthday. She says she knew the storm was coming but did not think it would be as bad as it was. She was able to fly back home, three days after the storm hit.   

“I’m going to watch the weather and I’m going to listen to it next time I’m not going to just go on,” said Koontz. 

When Koontz was at her sister’s house, she says they heard helicopters, which they assumed were trying to rescue people.  

Both Koontz and Chemers say they are just thankful they did not get the worst of it.  

“I have water and power back; I’m so lucky I can live in my house,” said Chemers. “If I need to go get gas, I have cash on hand and can do that kind of stuff. There are some people who are starting over, and that makes me really emotional.”  

If you wish to donate to help those affected by hurricane Ian, click here.