USA – Hurricane Ian Causes Catastrophic Storm Surge Floods in Florida

Hurricane Ian left a trail of destruction after it made landfall in southwest Florida, USA, on 28 September 2022.

Hurricane Ian over Florida, USA, September 2022. Image: NASA

In a statement of 28 September, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said Hurricane Ian made landfall in Cayo Costa with winds of 155 miles per hour (250 km/h), just short of a Category 5 hurricane.

“Reports of major flooding and tornado-like damage are occurring in areas across the state. Ian will slowly move across central Florida before exiting tomorrow afternoon. Floridians should continue to take shelter indoors and heed local weather warnings,” the governor said.

Strong winds, high waves and storm surge caused catastrophic damage across areas of Florida’s southwestern Gulf Coast. The National Hurricane Center said, “Severe and life-threatening storm surge inundation of 8 to 10 feet (2.4 to 3 metres) above ground level along with destructive waves is ongoing along the southwest Florida coastline from Englewood to Bonita Beach, including Charlotte Harbor.”

Stormy seas caused a migrant boat to sink off the coast of Florida leaving at least 20 people missing.

Floods from Hurricane Ian, Naples, Florida, USA September 2022. Photo: City of Naples FL Police Department

Initial reports in Florida suggest thousands of buildings have been flooded in areas including Fort Myers, Naples and Port Charlotte. Videos and images shared on Social Media showed wrecked boats, cars and buildings ripped from foundations floating in stormy waters. A hospital in Port Charlotte has been severely damaged by both winds and floods.

Many people evacuated their homes before Hurricane Ian arrived, while others remained at home or moved to shelters set up by authorities including about 3,800 people in Lee County. Those staying at home have been urged to remain in place. Areas including Fort Myers and Naples have been placed under curfew.

Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais, said “This is a scary situation, and we understand that. We urge people not to panic. If you can remain safe where you are, our first responder community urges you to stay there.”

More than two million were without electricity as a result of storm damage. Water infrastructure has also been impacted and some areas have issued boil water advisories, including in Fort Myers.

The governor of Florida requested a Major Disaster Declaration for all 67 counties and “asked the federal government for 100% reimbursement up front for 60 days to ensure we can quickly move forward into response and recovery.” Typically, this request is not made until disaster assessments have been made after the storm.

Hurricane Ian has weakened as it moves inland, and has been downgraded to a Category 1 system.

Track Hurricane Ian September 2022. Image: NHC


Earlier Hurricane Ian made landfall in Pinar Del Río province, Cuba, late on 26 September 2022 as a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 185 km/h.

As of 27 September 6 western provinces were affected, with an estimated 600,000 people exposed to strong winds. More than 61,000 people pre-emptively evacuated from high-risk areas. Significant damage was reported in Pinar del Río, the westernmost province of Cuba. As of 27 September, two fatalities were reported as a result of storm damage. Thousands were without electricity.

Local media reported coastal flooding from storm surge and heavy rain in parts of the municipalities of Guane and Pinar del Río in Pinar del Río Province, and in the municipality of Candelaria, Artemisa Province.

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