Sep 30, 2022 - News

Worries mount as Florida communities remain cut off after Hurricane Ian

An aerial picture taken on September 29, 2022 shows a big washed up boat sitting in the middle of a street in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Fort Myers, Florida.

Fort Myers, post-Hurricane Ian. Photo: Ricardo Arduengo/AFP

Call it the Anxiety Coast.

Hurricane Ian created the perfect storm for national worry, isolating a good number of the nation's grandparents in their dreamy southwest Florida retirement communities without any way to let family know whether they're okay.

  • Ian made landfall in Southwest Florida, but it also consumed kitchen tables in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

What's happening: North of where the storm hit at Port Charlotte, flooding and fallen trees have made entire interior coastal neighborhoods inaccessible without a tractor or a chainsaw, physically cutting off those waterfront communities between US 41 and the Intracoastal Waterway from the rest of the world.

The complication: Vast swaths of people who live in the 30 miles between North Port and downtown Sarasota have no power, no cell phone service and no way to get out.

  • So Facebook updates never come and texts go unanswered in an area that avoided the worst of the storm, where the trees tipped over and blocked roads but the umbrellas were still stuck in the tables at Chick-fil-A.
  • "Anybody have info on what's going on in Lake of the Woods/Plantation in Venice Florida?" tweeted @Extratii, for example. "Haven't been able to contact my dad and grandmother since 1:30pm today…"

State of play: "This could be the deadliest hurricane in Florida's history," President Biden said at a briefing Thursday afternoon. That’s questionable, since Florida’s deadliest hurricane killed at least 2,500 in 1928.

What we know: Local officials have confirmed at least 17 storm-related deaths in Florida, including six in Charlotte County, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

The latest: I couldn't get a Verizon cell signal west of Interstate 75 between North Port and South Sarasota — and I couldn't access dozens of neighborhoods west of US 41, but storm damage was relatively minor north of landfall.

  • Cars were flooded, commercial signs were busted and palms looked bedraggled and exhausted, but homes weren't wiped off their foundations. This did not look like Charley.

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