Disaster Discourse: The Hagerty Blog

Hurricane Ian Strengthens Back Into A Category 1 Hurricane Heading For The Carolinas, Florida Left Reeling In Its Wake


According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Hurricane Center (NHC), Hurricane Ian has again intensified into a Category (Cat) 1 hurricane after moving into the Atlantic Ocean off the eastern coast of Florida. As of 8:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), Hurricane Ian has a maximum sustained wind speed of 85 miles per hour (mph). The storm is currently located 105 miles south-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, and 185 miles south-southwest of Cape Fear, North Carolina, moving north at 9 mph. A hurricane warning is in effect for Savannah River, South Carolina, to Cape Fear, North Carolina and a hurricane watch is in effect for east of Cape Fear to Surf City, North Carolina. Hurricane-force winds currently extend up to 70 miles from the center of Hurricane Ian. Major river flooding is predicted to continue across Central Florida through next week, and storm surge warnings are in effect for parts of Florida, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Governor DeSantis said Hurricane Ian caused “historic” damage in Florida, “We’ve never seen a storm surge of this magnitude,” he continued.

Hurricane Ian- GeoColor: NOAA

As of Thursday evening, September 29, emergency response teams have conducted more than 700 rescues in Florida, with the majority of efforts concentrated in the Fort Myers and Sanibel Island areas. The Florida Hospital Association (FHA) announced that more than 1,200 patients are being evacuated from a large health system in Fort Myers on September 29 due to the facility’s lack of water supply. State officials say these evacuations and rescues include efforts via air, sea, and high water vehicles, as some roads and bridges remain impassable. In Southwest Florida, at least five sections of the Sanibel Causeway collapsed as a result of the storm, leaving the island’s population of 6,400 without access to the mainland. Officials have confirmed at least 17 fatalities so far due to Hurricane Ian.

Twitter: NWS Tampa Bay

In a briefing released on September 29, Governor DeSantis reported that eight United States Army Reserve (USAR) staffed with 800 team members had been activated to perform search and rescue initiatives across impacted areas. DeSantis also announced that 42,000 linemen are actively responding to the more than two million power outage reports throughout Florida. 

In addition, President Biden approved South Carolina’s emergency declaration on Thursday, September 29, activating the state’s emergency operations plan and enabling preparations for Hurricane Ian’s landfall. As the NHC predicts “life-threatening storm surge and hurricane conditions” in the state by Friday afternoon, September 30, officials have agreed to dispatch federal assistance to supplement local emergency response efforts across impacted areas.

Twitter: Readygov

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides guidance to individuals preparing for, experiencing, or being affected by hurricanes. Hurricane Ian brings the potential for life-threatening storm surges to many coastal and urban communities. Individuals should heed the warnings of local authorities, including evacuating in advance if advised and if possible, and prepare for hurricanes and severe weather conditions. It is imperative that individuals seek higher ground and avoid walking or driving in flood waters. Additionally, FEMA encourages individuals to take the necessary precautions and prepare for flash flooding. FEMA suggests several precautionary steps people can take to protect their homes and personal properties from damage by high winds and floods, including reviewing flood insurance coverage.

The Hagerty Blog Team will continue providing information and updates.