Hurricane Ian Barrels Toward South Carolina, Leaving Destruction in Its Wake

After pummeling Florida, Hurricane Ian has its sights set on South Carolina. The death toll from Ian, which made landfall as a category four hurricane in Florida, has now risen to 21. Authorities still have to confirm that the deaths were related to the storm.

Ian downgraded to a tropical storm before strengthening into a category one hurricane on its trajectory toward South Carolina. Meteorologists expect Ian to make landfall again in South Carolina today before moving northeast toward North Carolina and Southwestern Virginia Friday night through Saturday morning. It will be the first hurricane to hit South Carolina since Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

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Florida is still assessing the damage of Hurricane Ian, mostly from flooding. Early estimates say that the damage could cost up to $40 billion. Florida’s former emergency management chief told NYTimes, “Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island look like they will need to be 80% rebuilt.” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said it would be a yearslong recovery.

President Joe Biden said it could prove to be the deadliest hurricane in Florida’s history. Over two and a half million residents who were in the hurricane’s path are without power. Many are left with uninhabitable homes or do not have access to water, such as in Lee County, where a water main line broke.

“My message to the people of Florida and to the country in times like this: America comes together. We’re gonna pull together as one team, as one America. First thing this morning as I talked to Gov. DeSantis and again offered the fullest federal support.”

Kevin Guthrie, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, said that Floridians affected by Ian need to rely on their own supplies for food and water for the next day or so. The government advises residents to save enough food and water for seven days before a significant storm. From days 3 to 5 after the storm, the National Guard and local community distribution will serve water and dry food. Hot food distribution will follow shortly after.

Governor DeSantis said 700 rescues had been conducted so far by air. Before the storm hit, the state government asked residents planning to shelter in place to fill out a survey to allow officials to have demographic information.

“Some of the damage was almost indescribable. I would say the most significant damage that I saw was on Fort Myers Beach. Some of the homes were wiped out, some of it was just concrete slabs.”

In 2013, during his time in the House of Representatives, DeSantis was against federal aid for the New York region after the damage of Hurricane Sandy. Now, he is asking for governmental assistance to help his state. He told Tucker Carlson, “when people are fighting for their lives, when their whole livelihood is at stake, when they’ve lost everything — if you can’t put politics aside for that, then you’re just not going to be able to.”

At the time, DeSantis and Ted Yoho were the only House members to oppose the assistance package for Hurricane Sandy.

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President Biden said that the government would provide uninsured people in Florida an assistance of $37,900 for home repairs and another $37,900 for property loss. In Thursday’s speech, President Biden thanked the Federal Emergency Management Agency for their prompt response.

“I’ve seen you in action all across the country from the West Coast of the Northwest and the Northeast, down in Louisiana, all across this country. And just in the last two weeks, you’ve been working 24/7. No matter what, when emergencies happen, FEMA is always there. You deserve the nation’s gratitude and full support.”

South Carolina is already feeling the effects of Hurricane Ian, with 10,000 residents without power. In anticipation of Ian’s arrival, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia declared a state of emergency. The National Weather Service says Hurricane Ian will likely not strengthen beyond a category one hurricane as it approaches South Carolina, sustaining wind speeds of 85 mph.


An Oyster Bar In Florida Pulls $14,000 Off Their Walls For Hurricane Dorian Relief

It’s been about a month since Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Florida, and more southern states. These parts of the world are still recovering and have been left in complete disarray by the hurricane that only grew bigger and bigger before touching land. The storm reached a category 5 level, the highest it could be, making it one of 5 hurricanes to reach that level of severity within the past four hurricane seasons. Climate change and rising ocean temperatures are only further fueling the hurricanes; warm water temperatures add energy to the storms causing them to grow at substantial rates. 

Wind speeds reached up to 225 miles per hour, and sustained that intensity for 24 hours in the Bahamas, making it the most powerful and prolonged hurricane to hit the Atlantic, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists in the USA (USCUSA). A majority of the Bahama Islands is 15 feet above sea level, Dorian was a storm that reached up to 23 feet above sea level, leaving a majority of the island completely submerged and destroyed, 60% of the island, to be more specific, was left underwater after the hurricane finally passed, also according to the USCUSA. 

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Now, four weeks after the tragic hurricane, the Bahamas are recovering, but at an extremely slow rate. Hundreds of people are still missing, most are presumed dead. Most of the island is still left without electricity or running water of any kind, and heavy machinery used to clear debris in only just arriving. Many parts of the island remain abandoned from the people who were able to flee the island before the storm and while aid teams and clean up crews are starting to work on the island more heavily, the recovery process is reminding many of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, a storm their still recovering from.

An oyster bar in Florida, surprisingly, saw the devastation in their state first hand, and when they heard about the lack of financial backing for recovery teams all throughout the areas affected by Dorian, they knew something had to be done. The Oyster Bar is located in Siesta Keys, and over the years the bar has kept a novelty tradition alive that just might help the recovery process for the storm speed up. 

The Siesta Key Oyster Bar has become a huge tourist attraction for its very creative decorating style. The staff encourages every customer who comes in to write or draw on a dollar bill and attach it to the walls and/or ceiling. In fact, the bar has been open for about 16 years, making its entire design aesthetic at this point nothing but colorful dollar bills hanging from every angle, at least that was the aesthetic. 

After the owners saw the devastation that its state, and more importantly the Bahamas, has endured they knew they had to do something to help move the recovery process along. So the entire staff spent the whole past month removing all the beautifully decorated bills, which were heavily secured using a staple gun, so removal had to be a delicate process to avoid ripping. 

Once word got out to Siesta Key locals on what the bar was doing, hundreds of patrons began coming into the bar and giving in $5’s, $20’s, even $100 bills. This week, the owner finally went to the bank to count up what they’ve collected, and to their surprise the total reached $14,000. According to ABC News, “Jill Pedigo, Beth Owen-Cipielewski and their husbands would take money off the walls and donate some of it to local charities. Hale said they once gave it to a safe house for battered women.” This time, they wrapped up the bills, placed them in a bin, and went straight to the Red Cross Foundation, most likely one of the most unique donations they’ve ever received. 

“After we saw the videos and everything that came out of the Bahamas, it was unreal, and we all thought, what better reason to pay it forward? Honestly, I’m shocked, and I think the staff is shocked, I don’t think we ever expected it to amount [to] that much. Knowing it was such a lump sum of that magnitude is overwhelming.” Siesta Key Oyster Bar’s general manager Kristin Hale told ABC News.