Hurricane Ida leaves stateline couple stranded in New Orleans for days

As the storm tightened its grip, Ryan Block and Nicole Dworak knew it was a race against the clock to return home to Belvidere
Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 5:43 PM CDT
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BELVIDERE, Ill. (WIFR) - Hurricane Ida blasted Louisiana on Sunday as one of the most powerful storms in U.S. history, and also one of the scariest moments for one Belvidere couple left stranded in New Orleans by the aftermath.

“It was kind of like going into survival mode,” said Nicole Dworak. “Like how do we get ourselves out of here?”

Ryan Block and his fiancé Nicole Dworak were lodged at a hotel in New Orleans after attending a business conference last week. They were at the airport ready to fly back to Illinois on Saturday, but Hurricane Ida had other plans.

“We stood in the line for an hour and a half, only to find out our flights were canceled,” said Block.

Postponed for Sunday, which eventually turned into Monday, then Tuesday and so on, leaving dozens of tourists stranded.

“You don’t plan for these kinds of contingencies,” Block said. “Especially when you’re traveling.”

“Then we got a letter underneath the door that said there was an involuntary evacuation and the hotel was going to close,” Dworak explained. “Then we were like ok, we really need to figure out how to get home.”

It was a little bit of kindness from an Uber driver that saved the day.

“Everyone that was in the hotel with us was banding together and someone found this Uber driver,” said Dworak.

“She was taking people to Gulfport,” Block said.

Gulfport is an airport in Mississippi. From there, they rented a car and drove all the way back to Belvidere early Wednesday morning.

“There was just so much connection from it,” said Block. “These people didn’t have to help us.”

Ryan and Nicole said this experience brought them a new and humbling perspective.

“Like the things you take for granted, even, like going somewhere to get food,” said Dworak.

“Like Starbucks this morning,” Block said.

The couple says this experience bonded them to other people they met visiting New Orleans, who ended up battling the hurricane.

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