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Hurricane Ian Laid Siege To Ft Myers, Florida...And Won
Category 4 Hurricanes Are Not Gentle Rains
Shoutout to Stephanie Brail and her Wholistic Substack for providing some excellent footage of what Hurricane Ian left in its wake.
This article is to build on a point she raised about people who dismissed Ian as a “nothingburger”, and on the reporting in general that minimized the extent of the damage done to Ft Myers Beach.
I’ve seen a reporter on Weather Channel onsite in a neighborhood of concrete block homes that fared “OK,” except for trees falling on roofs (which is still a huge deal!). She seemed to think this meant that there wasn’t extensive damage to homes in the Fort Myers area.
What the Weather Channel reporter to whom Stephanie refers apparently didn’t see was the rest of Fort Myers being obiliterated, a point Stephanie herself was quick to point out.
This is the headline carried in the Tampa Bay Times earlier today:
These are a few of the photos emerging both from the Tampa Bay Times and on social media of Fort Myers Beach and the surrounding areas.
And some of the tweets showing Fort Myers after Ian paid a visit:
Staggeringly, these photos very likely do not convey the worst of the situation. That will not become apparent for days/weeks, as homeowners sift through the wreckage of their lives and assess the dollar dimensions of their losses. Ian’s hurricane force winds, in addition to blowing roofs off houses and houses from foundations, may very well also blow to bits Florida’s already distressed property insurance market.
The scale of the storm’s destruction will become more clear in the coming days but there is concern it could exacerbate existing problems and burden a state insurance program that has already seen a sharp increase in policies as homeowners struggle to find coverage in the private market.
“Florida’s property insurance market was the most volatile in the U.S. before Hurricane Ian formed and will most likely become even more unstable in the wake of the storm,” said Mark Friedlander, communications director at the Insurance Information Institute.
Florida’s property insurance market is in such a state of disarray that the state’s insurer of last resort, Citizens Property Insurance, is one of the state’s leading insurers with currently over 1 million policies underwritten.
Still, there are two reasons why Citizens is not projected at this time to be overwhelmed financially at the scope of likely insurance payouts:
The program has several billion dollars in surplus at this time, and
Most flood claims will be handled by the federal government, as flood insurance is generally a separate federally administered policy in most states.
With pre-landfall projections calling for some $3.8 billion in payouts, Citizens’ surplus funds are likely to come in very handily.
DeSantis, at a news conference Wednesday, said Citizens Property Insurance should be in solid shape even after claims from Hurricane Ian, given that the state-backed company has billions of dollars in surplus. A spokesman for Citizens said it estimates 225,000 claims and $3.8 billion in losses from Ian, though he noted those projections were made before the storm made landfall and would likely change as damaged is fully assessed.
Between lack of coverage and ultimately dropped or canceled coverage (by the insurer, not the homeowner), many people may find themselves unable to rebuild at all, at least where they were.
In the meantime, people caught in Ian’s path definitely need a bit of assistance. Relief organizations such as Samaritan’s Purse are already accepting donations. Please give a thought to donating, if not to Samaritan’s Purse than to the Red Cross or other aid organization.