BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–Thousands of Floridians are evacuating their homes, as the state prepares for Hurricane Ian to hit land on Wednesday. But the storm also hits home for Western New Yorkers, as many people have loved ones who are still in the predicted path of the storm.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen, I guess this makes us Floridians now,” said East Aurora resident Jill Gish, who has a condo in Sarasota, Fla. “We considered leaving early last week, we didn’t and now it’s too late, and I didn’t want to be stuck in a car on the highway when it hits.”

This is Gish’s first tropical storm to handle as a homeowner down in Florida, and she is taking advice from her neighbors on how to handle the preparation.

“I get the feeling from talking to locals here that their reaction to it is kind of like ours when we have a snowstorm that’s approaching, they’ve been there, they’re used to it, they know exactly what to do so they don’t seem as scared as me,” said Gish.

Hamburg resident Christina Bukaty, who is hunkered down in Estoro, Fla. with her family, is also taking advice from Floridians on how to prepare.

“I give them credit, they are really relaxed,” said Bukaty. “We’re just remaining calm. In all honesty I’d rather have this go through and be done already, because having the anxiety of having to build, I just want to know that we’re prepared.”

Bukaty and her family travelled down to Florida to see the Bills game on Sunday, and decided to stay to be with their son, who’s a student at Florida Gulf Coast University.

“I’d rather have all of us together during this than any of us being separated, so I’d rather be here then have my son be there by himself,” said Bukaty.

Their family is also having their relatives hunker down with them, that live more towards the coast. They’ve stocked up their pantries, filled their bathtub with water to be able to flush toilets, and charged up everything that can be charged, incase they lose power.

“I guess it’s kind of like back home during a snowstorm,” said Bukaty. “I’m not even joking, my husband said, ‘Did you pick up enough wine?'”

Some Western New Yorkers who made the move to Florida several years ago aren’t as worried, as they’re more inland from the coast, and have handled hurricanes before.

“People definitely worry, some people have boarded up their windows, but there is a sense that you just don’t know, basically that’s what it is, you just don’t know,” said David Hutchinson, who moved to Beverly Hills, Florida after retiring from working at WIVB. “You go through the same process, you have to make sure everything is taken care of. If you have palm trees, you want to make sure you give them a hurricane haircut, and then put everything away, and then just keep your fingers crossed.”

As the storm continues to make it’s way to the coast, News 4 will be keeping in touch with Western New Yorkers who are in Florida throughout the storm.

Hope Winter is a reporter and multimedia journalist who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.