Central Indiana restaurant owner preparing food for Hurricane Michael survivors in Florida panhandle

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MEXICO BEACH, FL – OCTOBER 12: People walk along a debris strewn street after Hurricane Michael passed through the area on October 12, 2018 in Mexico Beach, Florida. The hurricane hit the panhandle area with category 4 winds causing major damage. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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LIZTON, Ind. - A central Indiana restaurant owner is using his cooking skills to help people in his hometown after Hurricane Michael caused widespread destruction in the Florida panhandle.

Robert Ecker is usually at his Hendricks County restaurant, but he's spent the last few days in Bay County, Florida. He's been focused on cooking for the many people affected by the strong storm.

Last week, Ecker and his family started collecting donations. They filled up a trailer with food, a grill and a couple of generators. Ecker drove everything down to Florida on Friday.

"I told my wife and daughter that I’d be back in Indiana when I wasn’t needed anymore," Ecker said. "They’re taking care of our business up there and I will continue to take care of friends and family and the people of Bay County as much as I can."

Ecker was born and raised in Bay County. His family still lives there.

His wife, Tina, was at their restaurant Monday and shared her thoughts on this experience.

"My heart aches for him," Tina Ecker said. "I could tell he was very upset. He needed to be there so I told him 'just go, we got it, we’ll man the fort up here.'"

Ecker said he was able to help feed 3,000 people Sunday. His wife said he doesn't have a set return date but plans to stay at least through Tuesday.

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