Hurricane Ian: The Aftermath in Florida

This week Hurricane Ian set course toward Florida, impacting the state in a major way. The hurricane unleashed major winds on the state, leaving behind historic levels of damage, flooding, and loss. The storm struck the West coast at a category 4 (nearing a category 5), reaping serious damage on coastal cities. The hurricane began to lose momentum as it neared further inland, being downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it reached Central Florida. Once the storm made its way to Central Florida, however, it lingered, resulting in floods in certain parts of the region. Urban areas were particularly prone to flooding, with cities like Orlando and Kissimmee experiencing historic levels of flooding. The storm finally left the state via the East coast after rampaging across the state, similarly to Hurricane Charley, which struck the state in 2004.

Despite being downgraded to a tropical storm before leaving the state, the storm made a significant impact on Floridians. The areas that received the worst of it are all along the West coast, where the storm entered as a category 4. In its wake, it left behind significant damage. In St. Augustine, roads are flooded, and bridges are destroyed. In Naples, docks drift down the Gordon River, and buildings are submerged. In Fort Myers, boats are strewn about the land, and parts of the city receive 3-4 feet of flooding. The damages have not yet been fully assessed, as parts of the state are inaccessible due to severe flooding, and driving is not advised at this time because of the risk of car accidents that the damaged infrastructure poses.  A total death toll has also not yet been calculated for these reasons, but President Biden claims that “This could be the deadliest hurricane in Florida’s history.”

Beyond flooding, the storm has also knocked out power grids. According to PBS News, approximately 2.5 million customers were without power yesterday (Sep. 29) and can expect to be without it for days or even weeks. John Yang, a PBS News reporter, states that this is because officials not only have to rebuild the power grid, but infrastructure must also be repaired before service can be restored. The damage left behind by the storm is incredibly significant, and it appears as though it is going to take a long time before the state recovers. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis stated that “This is going to require years of effort to be able to rebuild and to come back.” 

Unfortunately for Floridians, climate scientists are saying this is only the beginning of this trend in natural disasters. As the climate temperatures rise, people can expect higher sea levels and warmer waters- conditions that make for catastrophically large hurricanes and floods. In addition to recovering from this hurricane, the state will need to begin reinforcing its systems and infrastructure for future storms that may parallel Ian.


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