Hurricane Ian Recovery To Take Years in SW Florida

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Recovering from Hurricane Ian in Florida Will Take Many Years, Experts Say


Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida on Wednesday afternoon as a Category 4 storm with 150 mph winds, wreaking havoc on entire coastal counties and cities.


In Fort Myers, one of the state’s fastest-growing cities, Hurricane Ian caused catastrophic flooding and destroyed homes and buildings. Now, residents are trying to pick up the piles of debris where homes and businesses used to stand, hoping to take the first steps towards rebuilding.


However, experts believe recovery from the storm in Florida could take many years.


Estimated Damages


Powerful Hurricane Ian caused widespread destruction in several Florida cities due to its extreme winds, historic storm surge, and heavy rain.


According to the Orlando Sentinel, catastrophe risk modelers estimate the state’s insured losses to be between $30 billion and $50 billion. However, such estimates do not include National Flood Insurance Program’s claims.


CoreLogic, a property information and analytics provider that estimates losses from natural disasters, says wind damage is between $22 billion and $32 billion.


The firm also estimated flood damage at an additional $6 billion to $15 billion, putting $28 billion in total damage on the combined estimate’s low end.


Another data firm, Enki Research, estimated that the storm’s financial impact accounted for $66 billion in the worst case, with a median projection of $71 billion.


However, experts agree that fully measuring the total damage from heavy rains and floods could take weeks or even months.


How Long Could It Take for Florida to Recover?


Besides demolishing homes and businesses, Hurricane Ian caused severe damage to Florida’s infrastructure, including roads and bridges.


The storm also damaged citrus trees, hitting one of the state’s most important industries. Florida’s main exports include oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, and derived juices.


According to the chief commodities analyst for financial services at firm StoneX, Arlan Suderman, citrus supply could take several years to recover due to significant damage to citrus trees.


With inflation reaching a four-decade high in the US and interest rates close to 7%, recovery will be difficult and slow, says CoreLogic. In addition, economic conditions are expected to worsen, as they usually do after natural catastrophes.


How Has Florida Responded to Other Hurricanes?


According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s records, Category 5 Hurricane Andrew in 1992 was the strongest storm ever to hit South Florida.


Destroying more than 25,000 homes and damaging another 100,000, Hurricane Andrew wiped out entire neighborhoods. Instead of rebuilding in Florida, many residents decided to move out of state.


The state government passed laws to control the storm’s financial impact and revised building codes back then.


However, experts fear Hurricane Ian’s devastation could delay the economic recovery of both the state and the whole country, already battered by a two-year pandemic.

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