Ethan Hague, Campus Carrier staff writer

Elizabeth Montiel-Alvarado, Campus Carrier staff writer

Florida communities have been damaged following Hurricane Ian. Ian is tied as the fifth-strongest hurricane to make landfall in the United States. Courtesy of Lameen Witter/FEMA

Hurricane Ian hit the east coast of Florida at 8 miles per hour with winds reaching 65 miles per hour. According to the New York Times, the storm caused immense damage to urban areas. The effect Ian left on Florida varied from power outages to complete destruction. Repair efforts are estimated to cost billions of dollars. 

Many residents were also awaiting outside help and news from relatives. Rescue efforts in Charlotte and Lee Counties, the regions that experienced the most damage, have been mostly successful. Relatives from outside states also struggled to contact those in the impact zones. With little to no cell phone service, many were unable to make contact with those relatives.       

Although many are accustomed to the frequent floods in Florida, a few have stated those from Hurricane Ian as the most destructive. A sheriff in Volusia County told the New York Times that this has been the greatest and most damaging storm surge in recent history.   

“Some places, like specifically where I’m from, mostly just had some heavy rains and a little bit of light debris,” junior Hannah McDonald, from Florida, said. “So not a whole lot of need there. But the main need is more in parts of southwest Florida. For some people their entire homes have been destroyed…Specifically, pockets of the Orlando-Tampa Bay area, Fort Myers in particular, [were] very devastated.” 

McDonald said that even for residents of Florida who live on higher ground, and therefore are less susceptible to flooding, there is visible aftermath of the hurricane.

“[For] other people, it’s been an issue of flooding, because when your house gets flooded you have to be careful of mold, and that’s just a whole process to have to clean that up,” McDonald said. “I know there have been road closures, lots of people lost their lives and their homes, especially along the coast or areas where there is a higher risk of floods. Typically, the higher ground you are [on], the less likely you are to have extreme flooding.”

The state of Florida has been receiving donations from across the country in the wake of Hurricane Ian. Berry students can do their part and donate as well to help these communities recover. 

“Donations [are needed] because a lot of people are going to have to have their homes rebuilt; the water will drain and clear out, but the destruction will still remain,” McDonald said. “I’m pretty sure there are relief teams being sent out, but I’m not sure if [that is something] college students can be a part of. But [definitely] prayers and donations I think will be greatly appreciated; I know relief funds have been set up.” 

It is important to understand and support the Berry students who live in these areas or have friends or family who live there and have been impacted. Dean of Students Lindsey Taylor reached out to Berry students native to Florida to offer support.

Courtesy of Jocelyn Augustino/FEMA

“I got an email from Lindsey Taylor expressing concern for my family and for my home, which I felt very loved by and cared for, that they were checking up [on me],” McDonald said. “That might be very impactful for some students if they are going home for fall break and their house was severely damaged. Even though most of us are from the [north] Georgia area, that’s just something to be mindful of. And be understanding, too, with any kind of extra support or any kind of grace needed for students who might be having to go home to a very different situation from when they left.” 

Hurricane-related problems can and will continue even after the more serious issues have been resolved, and the effects of Hurricane Ian could be long lasting.

“The process of gutting a house that has been flooded takes a very long time,” McDonald said. “That can be something that takes up to a year to really recover from with a bunch of houses being destroyed, a lot of construction companies have already been behind [due to the] lasting impacts of COVID, and I think a lot of people have been anxious [about] developing anyway. So I think there’s definitely going to be a felt burden for a while.” 

With climate related disasters on the rise, it is likely that these types of events will continue to occur. McDonald said that residents of Florida should make sure that their homes are prepared for the next storm.

“Also, there could be another hurricane,” McDonald said. “We’re still in hurricane season, and Florida gets a major hurricane or tropical storm almost every hurricane season. I’ve experienced four or five just in the past four or five years.” 

Posted by Campus Carrier

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