ST. LOUIS – As powerful Hurricane Ian made landfall Wednesday, the impacts were being felt up and down Florida’s southwest coast.

Elizabeth Irwin is originally from Belleville, Illinois, but now lives in Fort Myers, Florida. She and her husband live in a condo building that sits above sea level, so they were not so worried about flooding. The wind is another story.

“But the wind right now has been really, really intense. So, about two and a half hours ago, we came into our stairwell, which is all concrete,” Irwin said over the phone.

Sherry Stanton lives in Cape Coral but is in St. Louis for a high school reunion. Her two daughters put up her storm shutters and cleared her patio, but neighbors are starting to send her video of the damage.

“We have a Rubermaid storage cabinet on the side of the house. And it was just taken up and blown away,” Stanton said.

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She said her daughters are hunkered down with other family.

“My one daughter, she has two kids. They are sitting in the bathtub during some of these storms to stay safe. She now has some water coming into the windows.”

Farther north in Tampa, the shift south in the storm’s path had spared the city a bit. Ben Bockelmann, who’s originally from St. Louis, said the rain is expected to increase Wednesday evening.

“Off in the distance, you can hear this howling of wind that’s just… I never heard anything like it till Irma. It’s unique,” Bockelmann said.

Meanwhile, the American Red Cross has responders answering the call to help.

“We have other volunteers here in the St. Louis area and around that are waiting for the all clear to either jump on a flight or into a vehicle that we are standing in front of and be in Florida in the next few days,” said Beth Elders, executive director of the American Red Cross St. Louis.  

If you want to help the American Red Cross assist others in the aftermath of this storm, they say the best thing to do is donate money and/or to donate blood.