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Former North Iowans brace for Irma in Florida

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Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma

ORLANDO, Florida | Matt Werner and his family are closely watching the path of Hurricane Irma as it heads toward the Florida mainland.

The former North Iowans live just north of Orlando, which is pretty far inland from the path of Irma, but they know from experience they will feel some of its effects.

"This isn't our first rodeo," said Werner, a native of Lake Mills, who was one of the original flight nurses at Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa and worked in the emergency room for many years.

His wife, Erin, the former Erin McMillan, grew up in Manly and Mason City, and is a physician. Her parents, Dennis and Melody McMillan, live in Mason City.

"I'm concerned about all of the tourists down here," said Werner. "Many of them are trapped and can't get out. A good thing is they are probably in hotels so they have a place to stay."

Werner said he made arrangements for his parents, who now live in Florida, to fly back and stay with relatives in Iowa.

"The biggest concern for us is wind damage and power outages," he said, "Last year, during Hurricane Matthew, a neighbor was without power for four days.

"We're in a wooded area and a sandy area and trees fall very easily. If we get 80 mile-an-hour winds, I'm going to have some shingle damage."

Werner is a stay-at-home dad for the couple's two children. He said last year, with Hurricane Matthew, his wife stayed at the hospital where she works for three days and three nights. 

This year, he said, it will be someone else's turn. 

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