Sep 29, 2022
Last Updated: Wednesday, September 28 at 8:04 PM EST.
Hurricane Ian hit western Florida Wednesday afternoon. It battered the coast with a huge storm surge, 155 mph winds, and heavy rains. Ian might be the worst hurricane to hit Florida in decades. In its wake, streets were flooded, trees shredded, and homes darkened. Over 1 million residents lost power within Ian’s first few hours inland.
It could take days, even weeks to assess the damage. Initial reports appear grim.
“It’s concerning, it’s very dangerous," Naples' mayor told MSNBC. She added that she feared especially for those who ignored evacuation orders. “Unfortunately we can’t get to them now, the streets are flooding, and it is coming in fast and furious.”
Enki Research specializes in tracking natural hazards. Its experts estimate Ian could cause $70 billion in damage. That would make it the fifth-most expensive storm to hit the US. It would also make Ian even more costly than Hurricane Andrew. Andrew was a Category 5 storm that devastated parts of Florida and Georgia in 1992.
Much of Ian’s damage is expected to come from storm surge. Water levels along the coast are rising up to 18 feet above normal. Ian's winds are pushing the water inland.
Governor Ron DeSantis announced he would submit a major disaster declaration covering all 67 counties in Florida. He also spoke with President Biden. Biden told him that Floridians have the full support of the country.
“I know our hearts are with everyone who will feel the effects of this storm,” Biden said. “And we’ll be with you every step of the way.”
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