Before After Photos: Hurricane Ian destroys Fort Myers in Florida
Aerial photos reveal the utter wreckage of Fort Myers from Hurricane Ian, which pulled the city’s renowned pier off its hinges. Here are the before and after photos of hurricane Ian which destroyed Fort Myers in Florida.
The damage to the small Florida community was documented in before and after photos, with residences flattened, ships swept onto land, and fires raging through ghost town neighborhoods, reports Mail Online.
The sea looked to have receded from the shoreline, revealing the destruction to the once-tropical paradise, with trees ripped from their roots and roofs ripped off restaurants along the promenade.
Meanwhile, helicopter photographs showed structures throughout the city riddled with holes caused by the storm’s debris.
It happens at the same time that Ron DeSantis announced that 2.7 million people in his state are now without power due to the tsunami-like floods, calling it a “once in a 500-year” occurrence.
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In order to rescue the thousands of people still missing, stranded, or trapped in their homes due to massive damage from the torrent of water and 155 mph winds, he has dispatched 50 National Guard helicopters to seek for survivors.
According to County Commissioner Chris Constance, eight individuals have been confirmed dead as a result of the storm in Charlotte County.
On Thursday morning, many people came out of their bunkers to see the destruction in their neighborhoods; some of them started crying when they saw their possessions destroyed.
The Sheriff of Lee County raised concerns that it was one of the biggest natural catastrophes since Katrina, with hundreds deceased, but he subsequently revised his remarks after DeSantis and FEMA stated the death toll was unknown.
Despite this, he did not back down from his assertions, just stating that they were preliminary, and he emphasized that ‘looting and violence’ in the aftermath would not be acceptable.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is encouraging citizens to brace themselves for a direct impact from Ian, warning of the storm’s “dangerous unpredictability.”
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Ian made landfall as a Category 4 storm on Wednesday afternoon, but the National Hurricane Center lowered it to a tropical storm in an early Thursday update.
Experts estimate that the damage might cost up to $260 billion, however clean-up efforts are still stalled because large swaths of Florida remain submerged.
The Causeway Bridge, which connects Sanibel Island to the mainland, crumbled into the Gulf of Mexico owing to the severity of the storm.
Ian is presently around 35 miles southwest of Cape Canaveral, has a top speed of 65 miles per hour, and is traveling northeast at about 8 miles per hour.
Speaking at a press conference at FEMA’s HQ, President Biden said: ‘It is still moving across the state today. This could be the deadliest hurricane in Florida’s history.’
The president added: ‘The numbers are still unclear but we are hearing early reports of what may be substantial loss of life.’
He had previously designated it a “major disaster,” freeing up funding to assist those without electricity and hundreds of thousands whose homes had been destroyed.
After a phone chat early Thursday morning, the President also affirmed he was in “close coordination” with the Florida Governor.
The monster storm continues to rage across the US as:
Multiple weather warnings are in place across Orlando, as flash flooding continues to ravage central Florida;
Six inches of rain could fall in southern Virginia as the storm moves inland over towards the Carolinas;
The NHC has warned that landslides were possible in the southern Appalachian mountains on Friday;
Two people have died, likely as a result from the storm, but their causes of death are still unconfirmed.
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno, whose authority includes Fort Myers, one of the worst-affected towns by the monster storm, said that hundreds of casualties were expected in his jurisdiction alone.
He told GMA: ‘While I don’t have confirmed numbers, I definitely know the fatalities are in the hundreds.
‘Thousands of people are waiting to be rescued, I cannot give a true assessment until we are on scene assessing each scene and we can’t access people that is the problem.
‘This will be a life changing event for the men and women who are responding. This is a life-changing event for all of us.’
Volusia Area Sheriff Mike Chitwood projected that the recovery effort for the tsunami-like waves that rocked the state would be ‘something we’ve not seen in this county ever.’
The Sheriff’s Department also reported that a 72-year-old man was discovered dead in a canal behind his home in Deltona, near Daytona Beach.
He looked to be draining his pool into the large canal with a hose before falling down an incline that was ‘extremely soft and slippery due to the heavy rain.’
Meanwhile, imagery from Fort Myers revealed flames and black smoke coiling into the sky as homes were quickly engulfed by the conflagration.
In a press conference on Thursday, DeSantis stated that Florida had “never seen a flood event of this magnitude,” adding that “extensive damage” had been done to many buildings.
He noted that after being the heaviest impacted, Lee and Charlotte counties are in ‘difficult situations’ and ‘off the grid,’ and recovery operations will focus on repairing communication and rescuing those in need.
Lee County’s Sheriff likewise expressed concern that it was one of the biggest natural catastrophes since Katrina, with hundreds of people deceased, but he later softened his remarks after DeSantis and FEMA reiterated that the death toll was unknown.
He did not, however, retract the statements, merely stating that they were preliminary, and he also cautioned that ‘looting and violence’ in the aftermath would not be condoned.
In Florida, 15 river gauge locations are currently at or above flood stage, nine of which are above major flood stage, and three have set all-time records.
Floodwaters are likely to climb much higher as the Myakka, Horse Creek, and Peace rivers all set new records.
Punta Gorda, north of Fort Myers, was in near-total darkness as the storm knocked out power, except for a few businesses with generators.
Floodwaters reached rooftops in the hardest-hit towns, sweeping away automobiles and the wreckage of buildings, and palm trees were bent almost in half.
Firefighters and police officials have been swamped with calls from those trapped in flooded homes, while others have taken to social media to ask for themselves or loved ones to be rescued after choosing to weather out the storm at home rather than fleeing.
Rescue teams have been unable to reach them owing to the strength of the winds and flooding, according to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The terrifying footage shows debris-strewn water overflowing the ground floor of homes, pushing occupants to flee to higher levels.
Brittany Hailer, a journalist in Pittsburgh, alerted rescuers about her mother in North Fort Myers, whose home had been flooded by 5 feet of water.
She said: ‘We don’t know when the water’s going to go down. We don’t know how they’re going to leave, their cars are totaled. Her only way out is on a boat.’
Robbie Berg, senior hurricane specialist with the National Hurricane Center, said: ‘It doesn’t matter what the intensity of the storm is. We’re still expecting quite a bit of rainfall.’
Since going out in the early hours of the morning, the US Coast Guard has already executed 28 rescues.
They have been looking for those in difficulty and have rescued the majority of them from Fort Myers to St. Petersburg.
Rear Adm. Brendan McPherson, a US Coast Guard commander, said that the Fort Myers rescues included both marine and roof rescues.
Currently, eight Coast helicopters are flying over southwest Florida, ‘blanketing’ it.
He added: ‘Right now, we’re responding to a distress call in Lakeland, Florida, which is between St. Petersburg and Orlando… they’ve had a lot of rain and flooding in that area.
‘We’ve sent a helicopter up there to respond to a report of six people on a roof that need rescuing.’
Authorities have also asked everyone to keep off the roads because they are ‘not safe,’ and have advised anyone who has remained in the county to wait for the storm to pass.
Firefighters in Naples are asking homeowners to find the highest point of their home in order to be safe, but they are also cautioning residents to stay out of their attics.
Collier County Sheriff’s Office, which includes Naples, added: ‘Portable towers are on the way for cell service. Chances are your loved ones do not have ability to contact you.
‘We can tell you as daylight reveals the aftermath, it’s going to be a hard day.’
According to the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM), the next 72 hours will be vital for rescue missions in southwest Florida.
Naples officials said that the damage in their area is at least $200 million, with $20 million coming from damage to city property.
As rain from Hurricane Ian falls on central Florida, flash flood warnings have been issued for Orange and Brevard counties.
Volusia is also under a flash flood warning, with river levels increasing above 30.6ft and winds gusting to 95mph.
‘Wherever they are, they need to stay put,’ said Chief Lauraleigh Avery, emergency manager for Orange County Government’s Office of Emergency Management.
‘We could have a really rapid amount of rain, a lot of rain coming really fast. We were already expecting 12 to 20 inches of rain. Now we could go up to 30 in some areas.’
DeSantis acknowledged that he had spoken with President Biden and that he would request additional government assistance and cash when Ian approaches Orlando with rising water levels.
During a press conference on Thursday, Biden acknowledged that FEMA would help Florida clean up and pay for the damage caused by Hurricane Ian.
‘It is still moving across the state today,’ he said from FEMA headquarters in Washington, DC. This could be Florida’s deadliest hurricane in history.
‘The numbers are still unclear but we are hearing early reports of what may be substantial loss of life.
‘My message to people in Florida, at times like this: America comes together. We’re going to pull together as one team, as one America.
‘The federal government will cover 100% of the cost to clear debris and for all the costs the state has to engage in and expend to save lives.
‘The federal government will also cover the majority of the cost of rebuilding public buildings like schools and state fire stations.
‘Earlier this week I approved his request for the pre-landfall emergency declaration to provide direct federal assistance to the state, for emergency protective measures to save lives, including search and rescue and shelter and food.
‘Earlier this morning I approved the governor’s most recent request for expedited major disaster declaration.’
In a statement the White House added: ‘The President spoke this morning with Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida to discuss the steps the Biden-Harris Administration is taking to support Florida in response to Hurricane Ian, including the issuance of a Disaster Declaration this morning.
‘The President told the Governor he is sending his FEMA Administrator to Florida tomorrow to check in on response efforts and see where additional support is needed. The President and Governor committed to continued close coordination.’
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office has warned those who are having difficulty getting through to ‘keep trying,’ as no electricity and poor mobile coverage meant that many pleas for aid were not being received.
As it moves inland, the slow-moving hurricane continues to dump torrential rains, trapping thousands of people in their waterlogged houses.
‘Severe and life-threatening storm surge inundation of 8 to 10 feet above ground level along with destructive waves is ongoing along the southwest Florida coastline from Englewood to Bonita Beach, including Charlotte Harbor,’ the National Hurricane Center warned.
The picturesque southwestern shoreline of Florida, replete with sandy beaches, coastal communities, and mobile home parks, was quickly converted into a disaster zone overwhelmed with seawater.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott dispatched urban search-and-rescue teams of 45 people, four boats, and two canines to assist with the efforts earlier this week.
Thousands of Sanibel Island inhabitants have lost their sole means of escape as the Causeway collapsed into the sea.
It blocked off access to the barrier island, which is home to 6,300 people, though it is unclear how many chose to stay despite strict evacuation orders.
As Ian made landfall yesterday, the island was pummeled by 150mph gusts and massive tsunami-like waves, with images showing hotel guests fighting to keep windows on a building open.
A time-lapse video shows how rapidly the secluded seaside island was devoured by floodwaters, being totally submerged in less than 30 minutes.
Officials in Tampa confirmed that the Sunshine Skyway Bridge would reopen after being closed due to high speeds above 40 mph.
Florida’s Highway Patrol said: ‘The Skyway Bridge has been reopened to traffic in both directions as wind speeds have dropped to 30 MPH.
‘Motorists may cross the span, but are asked to use caution due to debris along the highway shoulders.’
The NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday will also take place in Raymond James Stadium as planned.
Rainfall of up to a foot is expected in portions of Northeast Florida, coastal Georgia, and South Carolina’s Lowcountry.
As the storm advances inland over the Carolinas, up to 6 inches of rain might fall in southern Virginia, and landslides are probable in the southern Appalachian highlands, according to the National Weather Service.
The storm was expected to pass near Daytona Beach and then head into the Atlantic before making landfall in South Carolina on Friday.
South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia all proclaimed states of emergency ahead of time.
Although no deaths have been officially recorded in the United States as a result of Ian, a boat carrying Cuban migrants drowned Wednesday in harsh weather east of Key West.
The US Coast Guard launched a search and rescue mission for 23 people and found three survivors about two miles south of the Florida Keys, according to officials.
According to the US Border Patrol, four other Cubans swam to Stock Island, just east of Key West. Air crews continued to look for up to 20 missing migrants.
The storm previously hit Cuba, killing two people and knocking down the country’s power grid.
The eye of the hurricane made landfall on Cayo Costa, a barrier island about west of Fort Myers, with water draining from Tampa Bay as it neared.
More than 2.6 million Florida homes and businesses were left without power, with the majority of them in 12 counties without power.
Storm surge flooded the lower level emergency room of HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital in Port Charlotte, while powerful winds ripped part of its fourth floor roof from its intensive care units.
Water surged into the ICU from above, causing staff to move the hospital’s sickest patients, some of whom were on ventilators, to other floors.
Sheriff Bull Prummell of Charlotte County, located north of Fort Myers, declared a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. ‘for life-saving purposes,’ threatening offenders with second-degree misdemeanor charges.
‘I am enacting this curfew as a means of protecting the people and property of Charlotte County,’ Prummell said.
Strong gusts and horizontal rains were still hammering Venice, Florida, a city of approximately 25,000 people about 32 miles northwest of where Ian initially came ashore seven hours earlier on the barrier island of Cayo Costa.
Larger structures were mainly undamaged, however minor residential neighborhoods off Highway 41, a significant artery through the area, were destroyed.
Downed trees and electricity cables obscured the asphalt on streets, roofs were ripped off of some homes, and water poured into neighborhoods from seemingly all directions.
A vast open lot in front of a Winn Dixie grocery store turned into a lake, with white-capped waters touching the trunks of some of the parked automobiles. Power was out across vast areas of the area, making communications difficult in many places.
According to DeSantis, Ian caused life-threatening storm surges – waves of wind-driven saltwater surging in along the coast – of up to 12 feet in some locations. Forecasters also warned of strong thunderstorms and the possibility of tornadoes.
‘This is a storm that we will talk about for many years to come, an historic event,’ said Ken Graham, director of the National Weather Service.
In comparison, Hurricane Michael made landfall in Florida’s panhandle in 2018 with sustained winds of 155 mph, while Ida made landfall in Louisiana last year with sustained winds of 150 mph.
Even as Ian pounded the coast before eventually crashing ashore, officials cautioned locals that it was too late for anyone who had yet to escape to do so safely. More than 2.5 million residents were ordered to leave earlier this week.
Many mobile home dwellers sought refuge in nearby schools and other facilities that had been turned into emergency shelters. The majority of the area’s assisted-living facilities were also evacuated.