Hurricane Ian Causes Catastrophic Damage in Florida, Impacts South Carolina

Hurricane Ian slammed into the southwest and central coast of Florida as a Category 4 storm on September 28. The storm had moved south from its expected path, largely sparing the population center of Tampa but causing devastating destruction in communities such as Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach, Port Charlotte, Sanibel Island, Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, and Naples. Winds raged above 100 mph, and historic levels of storm surge flooded oceanfront and inland neighborhoods with over 12 feet of water in some areas. The storm then moved across central Florida, causing further flooding, before exiting the peninsula as a tropical storm, re-strengthening into a Category 1 hurricane, and striking the South Carolina coast during the afternoon of September 30.

Although initial damage assessments are still ongoing at the time of writing, the deaths of over 80 Floridians were being blamed on the storm, hundreds of water rescues had occurred, and power remained out for a large portion of the impacted areas. As authorities work to respond to the destruction caused by the disaster, the amount of damage and the number of injuries and fatalities are expected to rise even more.

The region is home to many manufactured homes. While such homes are an important source of affordable housing across the country, they offer little protection during storms of this magnitude. Early aerial photographs show significant damage to mobile home parks and manufactured housing communities across the impacted area. In addition, the state remains a haven for older adults and people with disabilities, who are two to four times more likely to die or be seriously injured during a disaster.

FEMA quickly approved assistance for 17 counties across the state along with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Individuals should apply for assistance here. FEMA assistance to local governments has also been approved for the entire state.

In a fact sheet released by the White House, President Biden explained that he had “asked FEMA to focus on the housing needs of survivors as well as other immediate challenges they will face in recovering from Ian” and noted that “FEMA Administrator Criswell established an interagency Recovery Leadership Team to proactively address the recovery needs of individual survivors and expedite assistance to those in desperate need of help.”

As the response and recovery process continues, NLIHC, our Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition, and our impacted state and local partners will work to ensure that all disaster survivors receive the assistance they need to fully recover.

Read the White House fact sheet on the response to Hurricane Ian at: