The death toll continues to climb, as crews continue searching for survivors of Hurricane Ian — a hurricane of historic proportions that flattened downtown Fort Myers, knocked out the bridge connecting Sanibel Island to the mainland, and caused billions of dollars in damage.
In the days leading up to Hurricane Ian’s landfall, local officials feared a direct hit to the Tampa Bay region.
The tracking path showed Ian heading straight toward Tampa, and weather experts predicted that hurricane-strength winds, record storm surge and heavy rainfall would combine to create a worst-case scenario for Tampa Bay.
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, as a Category 4 hurricane, with an estimated wind speed of 150 mph.
The scope of devastation is almost unimaginable.
Footage from national and local television coverage reveals the destructive forces of Hurricane Ian, as it traveled through areas including Fort Myers, Sanibel Island, Cape Coral and other places to the south of the Tampa Bay region, and then headed across the state of Florida, before entering the Atlantic Ocean and making another landfall in South Carolina.
The news footage has shown heroic rescues, and search and rescue teams going house to house looking for survivors and crews.
The coverage has captured the human emotion of people being rescued, and others dealing with the loss of homes and businesses.
Television news crews also shared images of destruction.
Boats were piled in stacks in marinas, or carried onto nearby roadways.
Roads turned into rivers. Cars and trucks floated down streets.
High winds tore through mobile home parks.
Floodwaters 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 result of high winds that snapped utility poles and downed trees. Transformers exploded, too.
Power outages were the most widespread problem within The Laker/Lutz News coverage area, along with trees that fell, and additional damages.
Other disruptions occurred, as well, because schools, businesses and government offices closed, too.
But local officials were grateful the area was largely 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.
The scope of the state and federal response has been massive.
In the days leading up to the hurricane’s landfall, Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency, setting the stage for rapid deployment of emergency personnel to wherever the hurricane hit.
President Joe Biden has pledged to help the state, as it deals with rescue, recovery and rebuilding efforts.
The Florida Division of Emergency Management has been coordinating the state’s hurricane response.
The efforts include activating more than 5,000 Florida Guardsmen to help in Hurricane Ian operations. Up to 2,000 National Guardsmen from neighboring states also have been activated to assist.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s mutual aid team is coordinating the deployment of more than 1,000 law enforcement officers statewide from more than 30 agencies.
Incident Management Teams from Ohio and Colorado stepped up to provide additional support for response and recovery efforts after the storm.
Efforts to restore power has involved 42,000 linemen from numerous states, who have been working around the clock to get the lights turned back on.
The state’s effort have been widespread and far-reaching, dealing with everything from providing supplies to organizing manpower.
For instance, the state has shipped more than 4,000 gallons of diesel to Lee County to provide power to water plants that provide water to nearby hospitals.
It also provided 500 traffic barrels to Charlotte County to safely modify traffic patterns. It sent more than 400 bottles of oxygen to Charlotte County.
And, those are just a few examples.
Officials say it will take time to assess the full scope of Ian’s destruction, to clear out the debris, and to find a way forward.
In the meantime, those who have suffered losses are encouraged to file insurance claims, and if they qualify, to seek assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration.
Also, if you know someone who is missing, or you want to report someone safe, visit these websites:
There are a number of ways you can help, such as through local groups, the American Red Cross at RedCross.org, or The Florida Disaster Fund, which can be found at FloridaDisasterFund.org, or text, DISASTER to 20222.
Published October 05, 2022
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