Shropshire Star

Shropshire family trapped in Florida as they sit out Hurricane Ian

A Shropshire family is battening down the hatches, trapped in Florida as Hurricane Ian takes hold.

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Mark and Andrea Bowen with their grandchildren.

Andrea Bowen, her husband Mark, and their grandchildren, Tilleigh, 14 and Ollie, 10, were due to fly home to Weston Rhyn after a two-week family holiday in Orlando.

But the airport was closed less than 12 hours before their flight was due to take off on Wednesday evening, amid fears of the intensity of the hurricane.

Hurricane Ian has wind speeds of up to 155mph, just shy of the threshold for a category five storm - the strongest classification.

Only two category five storms have made landfall in the US in the last 30 years.

Mrs Bowen said that their holiday company, Ocean Florida, had to find them alternative accommodation as new holidaymakers were expected in their villa.

"We have to find £450 for the new accommodation, although we have been told we can claim it back on our insurance," she said.

"We were told by Virgin Atlantic that our flight was cancelled and they would rebook us as soon as possible. We have been told to keep our travel documents with us at all times and have a small bag ready with a change of clothes and some toiletries just in case we need to be evacuated."

She said they had been assured by the holiday company that their new villa is hurricane proof and that they will stay there and sit it out.

"We have never experienced anything like this in our lives so we don't know what to expect, but the locals are boarding up their houses and all restaurants and shops were closing up on Tuesday night. They are very concerned, which is frightening."

Mrs Bowen said that Disney and Universal issued statements to say they would be closed until Friday at least.

An uprooted tree, toppled by strong winds from the outer bands of Hurricane Ian, in a car park of a shopping centre in Cooper City, Florida (Wilfredo Lee/AP)

"We have been told to have at least three days worth of food and three gallons of water per person in the villa, as electricity and water expected to go off.

"The supermarket shelves were pretty bare of essentials and no water at all, but we managed to get some from a pharmacy.and have filled up jugs and cups to put in fridge and freezer.

"We we were also told to fill the baths with water to flush the toilets."

This GOES-East GeoColor satellite image taken at 12.01am EDT on Wednesday and provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, shows the eye of Hurricane Ian approaching the south-west coast of Florida (NOAA via AP)

Mrs Bowen said that rain had been falling non-stop all day on Wednesday.

"It is worrying, as were just told to watch local news and social media for updates."

The children are keeping in touch with their mum, via the internet and Mark is managing his painting and decorating business online, thanks to his staff.