When all is said and done, the damage from Hurricane Ian last week will reach approximately $70B, and there are already at least 100 people that are reported to have died because of the storm. Unfortunately, with the climate changing before our eyes and devastating storms like this becoming more common, the carnage experienced last week in the hard-hit areas of Florida and South Carolina will likely be repeated. Along with the loss of life and the destruction, the residents that are left in the wake of the storm are facing life without power, as well as drastically depleted resources such as gas and groceries. The Category 4 hurricane pummeled Florida with 150 mile an hour winds, washing out bridges, and flooding roadways. Many people living on the barrier islands were left in isolation with no electricity or internet to speak of.
According to NPR, “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Saturday that multibillionaire businessman Elon Musk was providing some 120 Starlink satellites to ‘help bridge some of the communication issues.’ Starlink, a satellite-based internet system created by Musk’s SpaceX, will provide high-speed connectivity.” Along with communications, the utility workers from Florida and surrounding states have been working tirelessly to restore power to the 2.67 million homes and businesses that lost power in the storm.
The Islands of Florida were very hard-hit by the storm. Pine Island, the largest barrier island off Florida’s Gulf Coast, was cut off from land when the bridge was destroyed. A volunteer group of Medic Corps, consisting of trained paramedics, doctors, and pilots, asked residents personally if they wanted to be evacuated. Sanibel Island was also cut off from the mainland due to bridge collapse, leaving residents stranded with little phone service or provisions.
Living through the hurricane itself was an extremely harrowing event for many. “The water just kept pounding the house and we watched, boats, houses —we watched everything just go flying by,” Joe Conforti said, fighting back tears. He said if it wasn’t for his wife, who suggested they get up on a table to avoid the rising water, he wouldn’t have made it: “I started to lose sensibility, because when the water’s at your door and it’s splashing on the door and you’re seeing how fast it’s moving, there’s no way you’re going to survive that.”
Rivers in the area are still flooded and are proving a challenge to those who are trying to help the situation through rescue efforts and the delivery of much-needed supplies. For instance, the Myakka River washed over part of Interstate 75, hampering rescue efforts,and making a difficult situation worse. The rivers are still high and will take another few days to lower.
Pawleys Island in South Carolina was another area where the community was hit hard, with many residents without power and astounded at the 25 feet high waves that washed away the landmark pier.
“We watched it hit the pier and saw the pier disappear,” Eddie Wilder, a resident for more than six decades, said. “We watched it crumble and watched it float by with an American flag.”
Rebuilding will probably be harder than it has to be for many people hampered with no flood insurance. According to Adnan Zai, Advisor to Berkeley Capital, “There are still many states that do not require seller disclosure of flooding on the property. Given climate change, developers taking more risks for limited land, I think all coastal real estate should have flood insurance. It may not prevent the disasters, but at least it will not put people penniless or companies out of business.”
For those who live on the water, Hurricane Ian was a stark reminder of how fast the tide can turn, and how quickly one can lose everything they have worked so hard for.And the devastation is a definite reminder of the importance of flood insurance for all who live near the water.