Chicagoans impacted by Irma; some evacuated, others are helping victims


CHICAGO -- Many Chicagoans have been impacted by Hurricane Irma – some evacuated and some are waiting to hear how their Florida homes fared.

While they wait others are taking action and are trying to help the victims of this massive storm.

“We’re actually really excited to be here it was kind of like a fun vacation that we got to go on,” Maya Chaiken, who lives in Miami but evacuated to Glenview, said.

The Chaiken family is back home in Chicago indefinitely while they wait for the wrath of Hurricane Irma to dissipate.

“We drove. We had to drive and it was miserable I got to tell you,” Brian Chaiken said.

The Mount Prospect natives live in palmetto bay a suburb of Miami.

“Believe me. It was a really difficult decision to leave. We put the hurricane shutters on the house,” Brian Chaiken said.

For now, they are staying in Glenview with family – hearing about how their home fared from neighbors.

“We’ve got trees down. We’ve got several trees that have fallen over. A couple are in our pool. One fell on a fence. But it looks like our house is still standing but we won’t know the damage until we get down there,” Brian Chaiken said.

And they won’t be able to get back home for quite a while.

“We’re here, there’s nothing we can do. You know just sit around the house watch the news and worry isn’t going to help us,” Brian Chaiken said.

Chicagoans who have since ventured south say while they moved in part for better weather, they’d take another “Snowpocalyspe” over a Category 4 hurricane anyday.

“It’s why I was comfortable down here just cause being through many of those Chicago winters I was ready for it - it was wet water instead of ice water,” Roger Germann said.

Germann was an executive vice president at the Shedd Aquarium until he moved to Tampa this summer for a job at the Florida Aquarium.

“Our house was buttoned up. Thankfully our house never lost power,” Germann said.

He rode out the storm on a massive ice breaker boat in the Tampa Port that is normally stationed in the arctic.

“It is an unbelievable ship that never even rocked during the hurricane,” Germann said.

“I had a chance about 1 p.m. in the morning to go up to the bridge and watch Hurricane Irma come over and the eye right above us and it was pretty surreal but thankfully we’re all safe,” Germann said.

He said Tampa didn’t get hit as hard as anticipated.
But native Chicagoans now living in Naples weren’t so lucky.

“We’ve got broken trees. And power lines are down and just the massiveness of this storm is crazy when you see just metal it looks like it was just crumpled like paper,” Keri Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald said she rode out the storm in her parents’ hurricane proof home.

But when she set out to see her own home this morning she was heartbroken.

“It’s a mess right now. It looks like a war zone out there,” Fitzgerald said.

No matter where they are living now Chicagoans are sticking together and helping each other out – the true Chicago way.

The Chaiken family said they don’t know when they will be able to head home. They are worried now about Hurricane Jose.

One truck here is leaving for Tampa Tuesday morning but people can continue to bring donations until 7 p.m. Monday night at St. Hillary School at 5614 N. Fairfield Avenue.

There is a GoFundMe set up for Mauricio Romy's donation drive.