ST. LOUIS – Southwest Florida is a home-away-from-home for many St. Louis area families.

Bill and Elizabeth Irwin want their friends in Belleville and St. Louis to know they are safe after riding out the storm of their lifetime. Their Fort Myers condo is located a few miles south of where Hurricane Ian made landfall Wednesday afternoon.

The couple and FOX 2’s John Pertzborn were texting back and forth until 1:57 p.m. St. Louis time, and then he lost contact. He finally reconnected with them an hour ago. It was a bad connection, but here’s what Elizabeth Irwin said before the phone went dead.

“We spent six hours in the stairwell of our condo,” Elizabeth said. “Tons of devastation. Trees are down. The palm trees have no palms, and the golf course is covered, a lot of the golf course is underwater.”

There’s water everywhere, but the Irwins can’t find bottled water to drink. The couple plans to stay in Fort Myers and then return to Belleville next Tuesday. Bill and Elizabeth purchased their condo a few years ago as a vacation destination to experience new adventures.