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A toll of destruction: Measuring the brutal aftermath of Hurricane Ian

Amber Bonefont, South Florida Sun Sentinel on

Published in Weather News

Making landfall earlier this week on the west coast of Florida, Hurricane Ian’s near Category 5 intensity left behind terrible devastation, leveling homes, bringing life-threatening flooding and leaving millions without power.

The storm landed Wednesday afternoon on the island of Cayo Costa near Fort Myers and Cape Coral. It battered the west coast of Florida for hours, dumping rain and decimating homes in the process, before taking a turn toward Central Florida, passing through Orlando.

By Thursday morning, Ian had downgraded to a tropical storm, exiting Florida, and then picking up strength in the Atlantic as it traveled to the Carolinas as a hurricane.

“This is going to be a storm we talk about for years to come,” Ken Graham, director of the National Weather Service, said at a news conference earlier this week.

Millions told to evacuate

More than 2.5 million Floridians were under evacuation orders or warnings leading up to the storm’s arrival. Areas such as Charlotte, Lee, Levy, Pasco, Pinellas, Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, and Sarasota counties, as well as parts of Manatee County, had mandatory evacuation orders.

 

12-foot storm surge

Forecasters warned of “catastrophic” storms surge reaching 12 to 18 feet along certain parts of the west coast from Englewood to Bonita Beach, and at the Charlotte Harbor.

“Overwhelmingly it’s been that surge that’s been the biggest issue and the flooding … as a result,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a briefing earlier this week. “In some areas, we think it’s hit 12 feet.”

About half of all deaths from a hurricane come from storm surge flooding, and storm surges are considered one of the greatest threats to life and property during a storm, according to the NOAA.

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