35 Of The Most Surreal Pics That Sum Up The Catastrophe Followed By Hurricane Ian
On Wednesday, September 28th, 2022, Hurricane Ian touched down in Florida as a Category 4 storm. It hit hard and fast, bringing winds of 150mph to the southwest coast, and by Wednesday night, over 2 million people in Florida were left without power. The National Hurricane Center warned Floridians of a “life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic winds and flooding”, and just as expected, Ian was relentless in its destruction.
Below, we’ve gathered some of the most shocking and surreal photos of the impacts of Hurricane Ian that have been shared on social media this week. Our hearts are with all of our pandas in Florida, Cuba and anywhere else that has fallen in Ian’s path, and we hope that you have all been able to find safety amidst this frightening storm. Be sure to upvote the photos that you find most powerful, and then feel free to share about your experiences in the comments if you have been personally impacted by Hurricane Ian.
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Floridians are tough, and they are great at keeping a sense of humor during difficult times, as we have seen through the many Hurricane Ian memes they have shared online. But a storm like this is an extremely traumatic and devastating event to experience. Hurricane Ian hit Florida as a Category 4 storm, meaning there is only one category (5) that would be more powerful. According to ABC, “Category 4 storms can cause ‘catastrophic damage’ with their 130-156 mph winds. A Category 4 storm can cause severe damage to well-constructed homes, including damaging most of the roof and exterior walls.”
"Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed,” the National Hurricane Center explains on their site. “Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.”
Although Ian did not reach Category 5 level, the storm is not to be taken lightly whatsoever. Category 5 storms are actually extremely rare, as there have only ever been 4 in history. To put it into perspective, Hurricane Katrina of 2005, which caused extreme devastation to the city of New Orleans destroying over 800,000 housing units and causing over $81 billion in damage, was only a Category 3 storm. Hurricane Maria of 2017 which brutally impacted Puerto Rico was a Category 4 storm.
Hurricane Ian has caused a great amount of damage and devastation as well, but the only reason it has not been deemed a Category 5 storm is because the maximum sustained winds did not exceed 155mph. They certainly came close, though. The United States receives a Category 5 hurricane about once every 20-30 years, with the most recent one being Hurricane Michael of 2018. Michael may have had maximum sustained winds of 161mph, however, Hurricane Ian will certainly go down in history as well, as one of the most brutal and destructive hurricanes in recent US history.
Since Thursday, Ian has weakened to a Category 1 storm, but residents can’t rest easy just yet. There is still a risk of flooding, with up to 30 inches of rain expected in certain areas of northeastern and central Florida. And as we all know, flooding can cause plenty of damage and destruction on its own as well, wiping away homes, vehicles, ruining buildings and leaving individuals stranded. Yesterday, MSNBC reported that Florida resident Terry Mazany became trapped on the 22nd floor of his high-rise condo in Fort Myers Florida, along with his wife and 91-year-old mother. Due to power outages leaving the elevators unable to function, the three of them were left surrounded by 8-feet of water and unable to escape.
Florida is not the only place that has been impacted by Hurricane Ian though. Cuba has also seen devastating effects, as 11 million people have been left without power, after the storm ripped through the island’s western tip earlier this week. Cuba’s entire electrical grid collapsed after the hurricane made landfall as a Category 3 storm, devastating some of the nation’s most valuable tobacco farms. “A blackout this big has never occurred in my lifetime,” Yamila Morena, a 51-year-old homemaker who lives with her son in central Havana, told AP News. “We can’t sleep at all without a fan, without air entering.”
Many images of trees ripped apart and homes destroyed in Cuba have been shared online to show the world the devastation that this small country now has to deal with. And while power has begun to return to the citizens of Cuba, their lives will sadly not be back to normal any time soon. “I spent the hurricane at home with my husband and the dog. The masonry and zinc roof of the house had just been installed. But the storm tore it down,” Mercedes Valdés, who lives along the highway connecting Pinar del Río to San Juan y Martínez, told AP News. “We couldn’t rescue our things ... we just ran out.”
More news on Hurricane Ian is still coming in constantly, as it is hard to report the exact level of damage when it is this overwhelming. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis referred to the impact as “indescribable” and stated in a briefing Wednesday evening, “We absolutely expect to have mortality from this hurricane.” Thankfully, there have been over 700 confirmed rescues thus far, but only time will tell how many lives were unfortunately lost due to this devastating storm.
While Florida has been hit worst by Ian as of now, the relentless storm is not over yet. “Hurricane-force winds are expected across the coasts of South Carolina and southeastern North Carolina beginning early Friday, where a Hurricane Warning is in effect,” the National Hurricane Center wrote. They also warned of a “life-threatening storm surge through Friday along the coasts of northeast Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina”. It is still unclear when Ian will finally leave the southeastern coast of the United States alone, but millions of people are hoping and praying that this nightmare will come to an end soon.
For those whose homes have been hit by the storm already, President Joe Biden, Governor DeSantis, FEMA and the CDC are urging citizens not to rush back. The damage from the storm is extremely dangerous, and it may take some time before it is safe to return to the places that have been hit hardest. Citizens should wait for clearance before re-entering their homes and be sure to wear protective clothing from sharp objects and disease. And if something has been touched by floodwater, it should be disposed of, as it may have been in contact with toxic chemicals and sewage waste. “When in doubt, throw it out,” the CDC urges.
We sincerely hope none of you pandas have been impacted by Hurricane Ian, but if you have, our hearts are certainly with you. No one should ever have to experience their home being torn apart or their city being battered by a violent storm, and we cannot begin to imagine how it feels to have to rebuild your life. Feel free to share in the comments below how this storm has affected you, if you or your loved ones live in the areas hit hardest, and then if you’re looking for ways to help the victims of Hurricane Ian, you can find organizations to donate to the relief efforts right here.