Hurricane Ian tests travel advisors’ resolve: Travel Weekly

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Travel consultant Linda Greene isn’t shaken at all. Greene, owner of a Florida-based Cruise Planners franchise, came to the craft as a second career. She previously worked at a high school in New York and as a vice principal at a high school in Nyack, NY.

But Hurricane Ian left the area around his home in Punta Gorda looking like “a war zone.”

“It really looks like a bomb went off,” she said Friday afternoon after seeing her apartment for the first time since the hurricane struck.

“It’s a little disconcerting,” Greene said. “Very little shakes me. I say it shakes me a little.”

Greene was one of many Floridians without power or internet, struggling to cope with personal loss. Travel advisors also found themselves trying to run their businesses.

Punta Gorda was until recently a second home for Greene. She split her time between Florida and Nyack, but this summer Greene sold her house in Nyack, ready to move south more permanently.

Linda Green

While Punta Gorda didn’t get the devastating storm surge that Fort Myers did 25 miles to the south, Greene said there was a lot of damage.

“All the palm trees are destroyed, and there were a lot of palm trees,” she said. “There’s debris everywhere. There’s fences knocked down. In the marina, there were boats that were on trailers that are sort of in a pile now. And there’s a big sailboat that’s off to the side on the roadway, with part stuck in one of the alleys.”

Greene walked up a dark stairwell to her apartment because there was no power on Friday. Rain had entered the space through the sliding kitchen doors, leaving several wet spots. Some water also seemed to have come through the air conditioning vents. The roof of the building was damaged.

Given the repair work needed, working with insurance and the potential use of disaster grants, Greene thinks it will be a long time before he can return.

This was not Greene’s first hurricane. Hurricane Sandy left her home in Nyack in need of a new roof in 2012. But Ian was her first hurricane affecting her home in Florida.

She rode through the storm with her partner and family members in Fort Myers, as the storm was originally expected to hit closer to Punta Gorda. They were inland, however, and were unaffected by the destructive Fort Myers storm surge. Due to power outages and flooding, the drive to Punta Gorda was difficult on Friday.

On Friday afternoon, Greene was staying at an apartment in Sarasota.

“I’m in a better position than most – I’m really lucky that I don’t have to worry about a roof over my head,” Greene said. “Dozens of people have reached out over the past few days.”

Many are customers in the area. Greene actually started traveling by pitching a tent in a local shopping area, Fishermen’s Village, where she talked with shoppers who eventually turned into customers and friends.

Luckily, she didn’t have many customers traveling that week, so being without internet and power didn’t affect her business too much. On Saturday, she said, she planned to start contacting customers to check on everyone, as well as getting to work on upcoming final payments and responding to customer inquiries.

Although the thought of fixing up her condo is a bit daunting, Greene, a widow, said she’s faced many changes and challenges over the past 10 years and is ready for those who challenge her. were waiting.

“Things can be replaced,” Greene said. “Having your health and safety is paramount. Of course, that’s always number 1, and everything else is secondary. Possessions can be replaced. Houses can be replaced. It’s a bit overwhelming, but it just makes me grateful that I have options and that I have the resources to deal with whatever is involved in this case.”

Back to business

Nick Pena, owner of a Cruise Planners franchise in Davenport, Florida, said the biggest problems in the Orlando area were flooding and lack of internet and power.

Pena lives in Davenport but chose to weather the storm a bit further north in Orlando with her partner. They were stuck inside on Thursday, but Pena saw her house on Friday. Landscaping damage aside, all seemed largely fine, he said.

The past few days have been difficult trying to track customers without internet service, he said.
“The needs of the business must continue,” Pena said.

The experience led Pena to commit to developing a detailed contingency plan for her business, especially knowing how tougher the storm has been for officers in Florida’s hardest-hit areas.

“I have to have a contingency plan,” Pena said. “If I’m in a car accident or something, or if I’m in the next hurricane and I’m the one in the eye, what happens to my business?”

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