State Watch

Hurricane Ian’s destruction — by the numbers

hurricane ian
The bridge leading from Fort Myers to Pine Island, Fla., is heavily damaged in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. Due to the damage, the island can only be reached by boat or air. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas were battered this week as after Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida and surged north, impacting millions with strong winds, flooding and power outages.

Ian morphed from hurricane status to a tropical storm and is still bringing rains to the mid-Atlantic as post-tropical Cyclone Ian. As officials in the four states start to take measure of the damage, the death toll is rising and thousands remain unaccounted for.  

Here’s what we know about Ian’s impact so far — by the numbers: 

Death toll nears 70 and climbing

At least 68 people have been confirmed dead, according to the Associated Press, with most of the casualties reported in Florida. Three people died when the storm passed through Cuba.  

Other outlets are putting that number higher, as authorities struggle to assess the affected areas, reach survivors and log deaths due to the storm. 

The Florida Medical Examiners Commission in an update Sunday confirmed 58 deaths attributed to Hurricane Ian in the state.

Lee County, on Florida’s southwestern coast, has counted 42 casualties, Sheriff Carmine Marceno said in a Facebook update Saturday.

Another five people died in Volusia County, three each in Collier and Sarasota counties, 2 in Manatee County and one in each of Hendry, Hillsborough and Lake counties, according to the medical examiner’s update.  

Another 23 deaths were reported in Charlotte County, according to local media.  

Around 10,000 Floridians unaccounted for 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced Saturday that the state had recorded more than 1,100 rescues — with more than 1,000 search-and-rescue team members deployed.  

But those operations face a number of obstacles as rescue workers wade through flooded areas and face lingering storm conditions. According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, around 10,000 people are still unaccounted for in South Florida alone.  

Seventeen people were still missing as of Friday after a boat carrying migrants from Cuba to Florida was wrecked by the storm at sea. 

Over 685,000 still without power in Florida

More than 685,000 people were still without power in Florida as of Sunday night, according to the tracker poweroutage.us, complicating response and recovery teams’ efforts to contact Floridians and conduct rescues.

The number of Floridians without power exceeded 2.6 million Wednesday night, as Ian edged away from the state’s western Gulf Coast and pushed toward its northeastern shores.  

Most of the worst damage is clustered on Florida’s southwestern coast, where the storm made landfall as a Category 4 Hurricane, but counties along the eastern coast were also impacted as the storm moved across the state. 

Some counties experienced extreme power cuts. In Hardee County, the poweroutage.us site at one point logged that 99.5 of tracked customers were without power. In Lee County, as much as 94 percent of the area was impacted.  

150 mph winds and record rainfall 

Ian made landfall as a Category 4 Hurricane, sweeping across Florida with wind reaching speeds of 150 mph.  

Those wind speeds were the highest in Florida since Hurricane Michael, a Category 5 storm that struck in 2018.

Ian was downgraded to Tropical Storm status, but regained strength and hit South Carolina as a lower-level storm, a Category 1 Hurricane with around 90 mph wind speeds.  

The storm system is expected to bring rain to the mid-Atlantic, with 1.5 to 3 inches or more in areas like Washington, D.C. The rains could cause a significant tidal flooding event in the Chesapeake Bay, according to the Associated Press

According to the Weather Channel, rainfall had reached as much as 19 inches in parts of Florida as of Friday. Orlando broke its 24-hour record for rainfall with nearly 12.5 inches in a single day last week. 

Cost to insurers could reach $63 billion  

The havoc wreaked by Hurricane Ian in Florida will mean the largest storm-related financial loss in the state’s history, according to a report from Bloomberg. 

The residential, commercial and industrial damage could cost insurers as much as $63 billion, per the report. 

When Category 5 Hurricane Irma battered the state in 2017, the National Hurricane Center estimated the storm caused over $50 billion in damages to the affected U.S. states. For Florida alone, that number surpassed $10 billion, according to the Tampa Bay Times

Seven people in Florida died during Hurricane Irma, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The following year, Category 5 Hurricane Michael caused another 7 deaths in the state.

Tags death toll Florida Georgia Hurricane Ian Hurricane Irma Hurricane Michael National Hurricane Center NOAA North Carolina Ron DeSantis Ron DeSantis South Carolina Tropical Storm Ian

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