In early October, Hurricane Ian, a Category 4 storm, made landfall in Florida. It wreaked havoc in the Caribbean in the previous weeks before hitting the mainland United States, leaving extensive destruction for millions of people. The New York Times estimates about 100 people have died, more than 500,000 businesses and homes have been destroyed according to Fortune and Poweroutage.us is currently tracking 17,000 Floridians who are still without power.
Hurricane Ian ranked fifth in the most powerful hurricanes in United States history. With winds of 150 mph and an average rainfall of 20 inches, boats, cars and even homes were under water. The extent of damage could take up to two years to recover. This includes vital infrastructure such as the Sanibel Causeway, which connects the island of Sanibel to mainland Florida.
As Omaha residents, the destruction caused by Hurricane Ian seems distant as it might affect future travel plans or appear as another disappointing headline on the news. However, many Marian students have family members, friends or other connections along the coast of Florida, resulting in fear of the unknown or even fear of loss.
Freshman Grace Tynan felt the effects of Hurricane Ian as her grandparents and family friend evacuated from southwest Florida. Tynan’s grandparents are dual residents of both Indiana and Anna Maria Island. Because they travel between each location throughout the year, they did not have the equipment to secure their Anna Maria home from the storm.
“My grandma was going down there [Anna Maria] for a doctor’s visit, but she ended up evacuated because their house was not equipped for the storm,” Tynan said.
Fortunately, Tynan’s grandma was able to stay with a relative in the area whose home was better equipped for the impact of the hurricane. Similarly, when she returned to her Anna Maria home, the extent of the damage was loss of trees and power. The home itself was still intact and in relatively good condition.
Though things turned out alright for Tynan’s grandma, she still had residual feelings of worry. “I was in shock when I first heard about the storm because these people that I love so much were in danger. There’s fear that something could happen to them.” However, Tynan found comfort in knowing her grandma would be safe in a storm-proof home.
Tynan was not only concerned about the safety of her grandma, but her family friend, too. This friend is a student at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Hurricane Ian’s most impacted city in Florida.
Tynan said, “Students who remained at the University had to stay in hallways or gym floors. It was very overwhelming for my friend, so she evacuated and traveled home.”
Tynan’s family friend, and numerous other Florida Gulf Coast University students, returned safely to classes on Monday, Oct. 10. After regaining power and water access, the University had minimal damage to control.
On Oct. 20, Tynan traveled to Anna Maria Island and surrounding areas to help her grandparents and others clean up the aftermath of the storm. She assessed damage and aided in picking up branches and other debris.
Although Tynan resides in Omaha far away from any tropical storm, she still felt the emotional impact of Hurricane Ian. Many Marian girls, and citizens throughout the United States, have reached out to family and friends who have been affected by Hurricane Ian. Floridians have slowly returned to normalcy as they begin to rebuild their homes.