As Ian restrengthened into a hurricane over the Atlantic on its way toward South Carolina, the devastation unleashed across Florida began to become — but in no way has become — clear. Fourteen people have been confirmed dead so far, a number almost certain to rise. The destruction is severe and widespread. “It’s truly a nightmare,” Bill D’Antuono of Naples told the Washington Post. “It’s something that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. And it just happened to every single person I know.”
More than 2 million utility customers remain without electricity this morning, and millions of Floridians could be without power for months after parts of the state’s grid were damaged “beyond repair,” FPL’s CEO told reporters. Large numbers of low-income residents — disproportionately Black, Latino, and Indigenous — were unable to evacuate, leaving them extra vulnerable.
The storm “shredded” Fort Myers, city council member and mayor pro tem Liston Bochette, told CNN, and obliterated Fort Myers Beach. “Essentially, if your home is not built out of concrete, to FEMA standards over the last five years, it’s pretty much gone. There’s literally nothing to come back to,” council member Dan Allers told CNN. “It’s total devastation.” The storm also destroyed the bridges and causeways to Pine, Sanibel, and Captiva Islands, cutting off residents there. (AP, Washington Post $, New York Times $, CNN; Death toll: USA Today, CNN, Politico Pro $; Nightmare: Washington Post $, Axios; Unable to evacuate: Axios, CNN; Fort Myers: CNN, CNN; Fort Myers Beach: CNN; Barrier islands: AP; Pine Island: CNN; Sanibel Island: Weather Channel; Grid: CNN, Politico, E&E News, Utility Dive)