BILLINGS — As Hurricane Ian continues its destruction in the Southeast, Montanans with Florida ties are anxiously watching news of the damage.
This includes one family who is vacationing in Whitefish when the storm hit.
Tanya and Balazs Boldoczki boarded a flight to Montana last Thursday for a much-anticipated vacation, just days before the hurricane hit their hometown of Naples.
“We saw that something was coming but didn’t think anything of it,” Tanya said Thursday.
And that quickly changed during their vacation.
“Right now, we’re checking all the airports and everything,” Balazs said.
The family is now trying to get home to Naples as fast as they possibly can and not just to check on their home, which they have been told is all right so far. The Boldoczkis own United Water Restoration, a water-restoration business.
“Our phones this morning have been ringing off the hook, like, 'can you help my dad, can you help my grandma, can you help my customer?'" Tanya said.
Meanwhile, Lisa Smith is trying to do the opposite of the Boldoczkis. Smith lives in Billings but is currently in West Palm Beach.
“Last night there was a lot of wind, a lot of debris everywhere. The lake behind us was overflowing,” Smith said.
She booked the trip six months ago, never imagining she would end up vacationing in a hurricane.
“You could see the signs. You know, the beach was getting a little rough,” said Smith.
But Smith has experienced her fair share of hurricanes and knew what to expect when finding out what was heading her way. Before moving to Billings, she lived in Miami for 30 years.
“I was expecting more, but we, thankfully, we didn’t experience what other people are experiencing, you know?” Smith said.
Smith plans on flying home Tuesday out of Fort Lauderdale.
The Boldoczkis hope they’ll also get back home to Florida soon to start helping their employees and begin restoring some of the homes damaged by the storm. They know first hand the devastation of losing your home.
“We actually lost our home to a fire before, so different scenario, but the same destruction and so it's sad what these people are going through, to lose everything,” Tanya said.