In the days leading up to Hurricane Ian’s landfall, local officials and weather experts feared a potential worst-case scenario for the Tampa Bay region. Predictions of hurricane-strength winds, record storm surge and heavy rainfall set the stage for concerns that there would be destruction of historic proportions in the Tampa Bay region. Instead — just like Hurricane Charley in 2004 — Hurricane Ian shifted to the south.
It made landfall at Cayo Costa Island at 3:05 p.m. on Sept. 28, a a Category 4 hurricane, with an estimated wind speed of 150 mph.
Footage from national and local television coverage reveals the destructive forces of Hurricane Ian, as it traveled through areas including Punta Gorda, Fort Myers, Cape Coral and other places to the south of the Tampa Bay region, and headed across the state of Florida, before it was expected to enter the Atlantic Ocean and then head toward South Carolina.
In areas within Hurricane Ian’s path, boats were carried out of marinas.
Cars and trucks floated down streets.
Roads turned into rivers.
High winds tore through mobile home parks.
Flood waters filled up houses. High winds sheared off roofs.
Those toppled trees damaged homes, cars and other properties.
At one point, millions across Florida were in the dark, as a reult of high winds that snapped utility poles and downed trees. Transformers exploded, too.
The toll that Ian took on human life was not yet known in the early afternoon hours of Sept. 29.
Locally, officials expressed gratitude that the region, for the most part, was spared.
At the same time they expressed empathy for Floridian communities that are dealing with Hurricane Ian’s destruction, and pledged to send support to help other communities reeling from the storm’s devastating impacts.
Pasco County Commission Chairwoman Kathryn Starkey shared this message in a newsletter from her office: “I am grateful the storm did not impact our County (Pasco County) like forecasted and am glad we were prepared. My thoughts and prayers are with our friends to the South. The County will be sending crews to assist with cleanup to help those who have been impacted by Ian.”
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and Hillsborough County Administrator Bonnie Wise expressed similar sentiments during their briefings.
By the morning of Sept. 29, evacuation orders were lifted in Pasco and Hillsborough counties and the city of Tampa.
Although residents were free to return to their home, officials urged them and anyone else out on the roads to be cautious and be aware of their surroundings.
At intersections where the signals aren’t working, they reminded motorists to treat them as a four-way stop.
They also urged residents to steer clear of downed power lines and to be sure to report them to the local utility company.
Regarding power outages, officials urged patience.
They also reminded anyone who is using a generator to be sure to place it outdoors and in a well-ventilated space. Inhaling fumes from a generator can be lethal.
Pasco County officials also announced that storm damage reports be made through the county’s online tool, available at MyPasco.net or click on this direct link: mypas.co/ReportDamage.
Reports can involve structural damage to homes or businesses; storm debris, including downed trees and branches; or, human needs, including food, water, clothing and shelter.
Pasco also announced that it is waiving tipping fees for storm debris through Oct. 8, at these locations:
• West Pasco Resource Recovery Facility, 14606 Hays Road, Spring Hill
• East Pasco Transfer Station, 9626 Handcart Road., Dade City (yard debris limited to three bags per household.)
Pasco sandbag disposal sites also are open to properly dispose sandbags:
• Magnolia Valley Golf Course: 7223 Massachusetts Avenue, New Port Richey
• Wesley Chapel District Park, 7727 Boyette Road, Wesley Chapel
If you have questions or concerns, contact Pasco County customer service , at 727-847-2411 or chat with us online at MyPasco.net.
Meanwhile, Pasco County Schools has announced that it expects classes to resume, as usual, on Oct. 3.
Revised September 29, 2022