Hurricane Ian strands Darke County man in Ohio, puts wife and son on the road with pet birds – WHIO TV 7 and WHIO Radio


ARCANUM — Matthew Kovacs planned to fly back to Florida as part of his job with the World Equestrian Center in Wilmington, but Hurricane Ian blew that plan out of the water and left him stranded in his native Darke County.

>> LIVE UPDATES: Hurricane Ian downgraded, but continues to drench Florida

The storm also put his wife, their son and their pets on the road to the safety of Arcanum from their still relatively new home in Ocala, Florida.

Kovacs said he and his wife decided Tuesday night that she would drive to Ohio because of the threat from Hurricane Ian — and the fact that Orlando International Airport has been shut down until further notice.

So, about 4 am Tuesday, Kovacs’ wife (who is from Beavercreek) began the drive up I-75.

“A parrot, two cockatiels and a 13-year-old 15 hours on about four hours of sleep,” Kovacs told News Center 7’s Brandon Lewis on Wednesday night.

Ocala, in central Florida and north of Orlando, has never been hit by a hurricane and received only a recommended evacuation order from city and state officials, Kovacs said. When the city closed schools, Kovacs said, his wife became nervous.

“With me not being there, and they’ve never dealt with a hurricane before, we felt it was the safest decision just to tough it out and make the drive just to be safe,” he said. She was to arrive in Arcanum sometime Wednesday evening.

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“It’s worrisome, too, because I have people there I care about who I’ve worked with for several years,” Kovacs said. One of his friends, who has horses in Wellington, Florida, is worried about his animals and barns because the property has been hit by about 12 inches of rain. The Village of Wellington is south of Orlando, which was hit by steady rain Wednesday night.

Kovacs said he’s concerned about colleagues and friends still in Florida.

He’s scheduled to travel to the West Coast on Monday for another work assignment while his wife, their son and the pets remain in Darke County.

When they return to Florida, he said, they hope nobody has been injured and that everyone, including horses and a kangaroo and a donkey at the equestrian center, are safe.

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As of Wednesday night, their home of two years was fine. Thursday he hopes the family will have a better idea about damage as the storm raked central Florida.

“Hopefully, we’ll know something Saturday morning,” Kovacs said about being able to return to Ocala.


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