JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - – For many in Florida, Hurricane Andrew is the bar that’s used for devastating damage.
Hurricane Ian will likely be the new bar.
The damage in Southwest Florida is beyond anything ever seen in that area.
Fort Myers Beach has been effectively leveled, with storm surge well over eight feet and hurricane-force winds.
Damage on Sanibel and Captiva islands is still not fully known, as the area has been cut off from traffic due to the collapse of the Sanibel Causeway.
Other areas in Cape Coral and Fort Myers are showing significant wind damage, demolishing wood frame buildings and mobile homes.
Any way you measure it, Hurricane Ian dealt an incredible blow to the state of Florida.
Ian made landfall Wednesday afternoon as a high-end Category 4 major hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph.
While the winds were extreme, Ian will likely be remembered for its incredible surge.
Early indications are that the storm surge in Southwest Florida will likely be the greatest surge event in the US since Katrina in 2005.
At this time, we do not know the exact height of the surge. But early estimates are above six feet for many areas, and Fort Myers Beach likely received 10 feet plus of surge over the island.
What we do know is the storm surge was extensive.
Downtown Fort Myers reported significant surge, with the center of the city over 15 miles away from the Gulf of Mexico along the Caloosahatchee River.
Power outages remained extensive Friday across the region, and some will likely be without power for months.
But it wasn’t just Southwest Florida dealing with Ian issues.
Central Florida was blasted with hurricane force winds and significant flooding.
On Thursday evening, nearly 100% of Hardee County was without power.
Orlando was under a Flash Flood Emergency on Thursday morning, with widespread flooding in many neighborhoods.
In the coming days and weeks, we will take an in-depth look at what caused Ian’s power, why the surge was so extreme, and what can be done to protect homes and people from such devastating hurricanes.
For a state known for major hurricanes, Ian will likely be the new bar for devastation in Florida.