Hurricane Ian’s Destruction to Southwest Florida

Hayley Lemery, Assignment and Features Editor

Hurricane Ian touched down near Cayo Costa around 3 p.m. on Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane, having maximum sustained winds of 155 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center advisory.

Hurricane Ian was two mph away from becoming a Category 5 hurricane while crossing over Florida’s Gulf Coast.

“We have seen life threatening storm surge as was predicted, we’ve also seen major flooding in places like Collier County, Sanibel, Fort Myers Beach,” Governor Ron DeSantis said at a press conference uploaded by PBS NewsHour on YouTube.

As of 11 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 29, Hurricane Ian is moving as a tropical storm over Merritt Island into the Atlantic Ocean.

Hurricane Ian left behind catastrophic damage throughout Florida. Millions are left without water and power. Residents have been left with damage to their homes from the powerful winds and debris or their homes have been flooded by the storm surge.

“We have now officially sent the letter with the request to the Biden Administration for a major disaster declaration for all 67 counties, requesting the federal government do 100 percent reimbursement upfront for 60 days to ensure that we can quickly move forward into this response and recovery phase,” DeSantis said.

President Joe Biden has approved the Florida disaster declaration.

“The President’s action makes Federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas, and Sarasota,” said the White House website for the approved declaration.

Early Thursday morning, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno spoke on Good Morning America that Hurricane Ian caused hundreds of fatalities, according to the News-Press. He also said that first responders are having trouble reaching compromised scenes.

“There are thousands of people that are waiting to be rescued,” Marceno said. “And this will be a life-changing event for the men and women who are responding. They’re going to see things they’ve never seen before.”

Sections of the Sanibel Causeway and Pine Island bridge have been damaged. Traffic signals are hanging low and power lines are laying in the streets. Trees and debris have blocked off roads in areas around Lee County and have caused damage to homes. There is also a boil water notice for Lee County. A county-wide curfew is still in effect until further notice.

FGCU has canceled classes until Wednesday, Oct. 5. Students were told to be aware of emails sent from the school for any updates regarding when classes will start again.

Students that were living on campus and unable to evacuate were sheltered in Alico Arena with FGCU housing staff. The resident halls will remain closed until damages are accessed by staff members.

At this time, the damage done to FGCU is unknown.

“There are many questions about the next steps for FGCU. Some can be answered now, and others will be answered in the coming days. To help you in the interim, FGCU has launched” FGCU said in their 10th Hurricane Ian advisory email on Sept. 29.

Check this website for updates, information on how you can volunteer or donate in support, and ways to provide FGCU with details on your current well-being.