By Christina Zdanowicz, CNN
Rob Cohen had been waiting for the perfect moment to propose — and that moment dawned on him as Hurricane Ian approached Florida.
Cohen had a feeling that the site of his first date with Mary Fixl — along Lake Eola in Orlando — would soon be flooded by the monster storm. So, he rushed his partner out to the spot on Wednesday as it was starting to rain.
“Everything else was closed. And I was like, ‘You want to go on a little hurricane adventure with me?'” Cohen said.
Cohen dropped down on one knee, in the very spot where they walked on their first date in December 2021, and he asked Fixl to marry him.
After the proposal, the couple hurried back to their home and stayed put while the hurricane battered the state for hours on Wednesday, killing more than 20 and leaving destruction in its path.
‘A very Florida thing to do’
Fixl and Cohen have been together for 9 months, but they have known each other for 12 years — they met as neighbors.
When Fixl was on a 10-day European cruise last week, Cohen said he realized, “I needed to hurry up and marry this girl because I was not a happy camper while she was gone.”
He didn’t waste another day.
“I figured that would be a very memorable way to propose in a hurricane,” Cohen said.
“It’s a very Florida thing to do,” Fixl explained.
Fixl said she was in the shower when Cohen asked her to go on a “hurricane adventure.” He handed her a sundress for the occasion. When she asked whether she needed to do her hair and makeup, he said no.
“I thought we were just going to go play in the rain,” Fixl said. “Little did I know that he was going to propose so I have no hair, no makeup. I have a dress on in the middle of the storm.”
CNN happened to be watching the tender moment from a distance — and soon asked for an interview.
“It was kind of surreal, to tell you the truth,” Cohen said, after speaking to CNN’s Ryan Young. “And then CNN interviewing, it just put the cherry on top.”
Cohen was right about getting to the spot several hours before the storm. The giant fountain in Lake Eola Park was underwater when he saw it on Thursday, he said.
The couple’s second-story condo was unscathed by the hurricane, although the ponds all overflowed, Fixl said. The damage was minimal this time, but they’ve experienced worse.
“We’ve been through like six or seven hurricanes here, the worst of which was Charley in 2004,” Cohen said. “And that looked like a bomb went off in the complex.”
Being grateful for their home and for each other carries them through, although finding love took a long time for Cohen and Fixl.
“Love can be very unexpected,” Cohen said. “Never give up hope because I’m 52 and …”
“I’m almost 40 and I’ve never been married,” Fixl said, jumping in.
“Sometimes you just gotta wait for it,” he said.
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CNN’s Ryan Young and Devon Sayers contributed to this report.