Two Weeks After Ian, Florida Remains Storm-Shocked

Oct 11, 2022

Packing furious winds and a life-threatening storm surge, Hurricane Ian roared ashore in Southwest Florida as a CAT 4 monster storm on September 28, 2022. Just 24 hours prior to making landfall, on September 27, major news outlets like NPR were running such headlines as “Why Predicting Ian’s Track Has Been Especially Difficult.” As of Tuesday afternoon, projection models had Ian making landfall anywhere from north of Tampa to Fort Myers. No wonder so many residents were caught in a “too-little-too-late" scenario when on Wednesday morning, Ian decidedly slammed into Cayo Costa, a barrier island west of Fort Myers, on the farthest southern edge of the “cone of uncertainty.”

Tawana W. was one of those residents. On Wednesday, September 28, at 3 p.m., when Tawana saw the storm surge from the Caloosahatchee River rushing down her street, she went inside her house and cried. She had been making plans all morning to flee the storm, but now it was too late. Within an hour, she found herself in chest-deep water in her neighbor’s apartment. It would be there that she would endure an entirely sleepless night standing in cold black water as Hurricane Ian raged outside the door.

When the waters receded the next morning, the light of day showed Tawana that she had lost EVERYTHING: her furniture, her clothes, her appliances, her van — taken in mere hours in nature’s cruel blow. The only things she was able to salvage were her Bible, her cell phone and, amazingly, her three beloved dogs who survived by balancing on a floating mattress.

Ten days after the storm, the community still had no power, no potable water and no transportation. While FEMA was supposed to pay a visit to the neighborhood, no timetable exists as to how long the residents’ belongings will remain heaped on the curb, reduced to small chaotic mountains of storm-damaged trash.

“A 500-Year Flood Event”

Hurricane Ian cut a staggering swath of destruction rivaled by very few hurricanes in U.S. history. From 150 mph wind gusts to a deadly storm surge, Ian’s march across Central Florida dumped over 20 inches of rain on Central Florida, overwhelming riverbeds and submerging whole communities before exiting the state on the eastern seaboard. In a “day-after” press conference, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis called the storm a “500-year flood event.” As of Oct. 10, 2022, the death toll in Florida has topped 120; 200,000 businesses remain without power; and the price tag for recovery is estimated at more than a jaw-dropping $100 billion.

Not the Time to Turn a Blind Eye

While Florida residents are used to dealing with hurricanes, this one hit differently. “We’ve been through Hurricane Charlie and Hurricane Irma, but Ian’s destruction was like nothing we’ve ever experienced,” says Grayson Wilkes, longtime resident of Fort Myers. “From the uncertainty of the storm’s path to its excruciatingly slow slog through the state, Ian left residents more bewildered and disoriented than prior hurricanes. We will not only be cleaning up a physical mess, but for some, we’ll be cleaning up an emotional one as well. The storm took a toll in more ways than one.”

Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, knows the value of coordinating with other organizations in a time like this.

"Hurricane Ian will go down as one of the most damaging storms in our nation's history with destruction extending from Southwest Florida through the middle of the state and all the way to Florida's east coast," Staver says. "Now is not the time to turn a blind eye to the suffering and devastation affecting tens of thousands of Floridians. We must answer the call to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those in need. Through our ministry of Liberty Relief International, we are partnering with organizations to not only bring much needed humanitarian aid to the hardest-hit neighborhoods and communities, but to embrace those who have lost everything with compassion, prayer and spiritual support."

Liberty Relief International, an outreach of Liberty Counsel Ministries, will be ministering to communities in need with food, water, clothing, damage mitigation, counseling and much more. Hurricane relief efforts will extend well past the immediacy of the present crisis as Florida recovers and rebuilds in the wake of Ian’s fury. To partner with Liberty Relief International, visit: https://tinyurl.com/GiveIan



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