Five days after Hurricane Ian made its first U.S. landfall in Florida, the unrelenting storm on Monday threatened to bring some of the worst flooding in more than a decade — nearly 1,000 miles away in Virginia.
After blasting through Florida and then hitting the Carolinas, the weakened but still dangerous storm pelted Virginia with rain on Monday, and officials warned of potentially severe flooding on Tuesday.
The remnants of the Category 4 hurricane moved up the coast and merged with a low pressure system to form a nor’easter that was expected to drive more water into an already flooded Chesapeake Bay. Cody Poche, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the result could be the most significant tidal flooding in Virginia’s Hampton Roads region in 10 to 15 years.
Norfolk and Virginia Beach declared states of emergency, and Virginia Beach warned residents to “make the necessary preparations now if evacuation becomes necessary.” The island city of Chincoteague issued a voluntary evacuation order for its 3,000 residents and was opening a shelter at a local high school.
At least 68 people have been confirmed dead as a result of the storm: 61 in Florida, four in North Carolina and three in Cuba. Rescue missions were ongoing, particularly on the barrier islands near Fort Myers in southwest Florida.
BEFORE AND AFTER:A look at Hurricane Ian’s damage in Florida
IAN, FIONA DESTROYED HOPE FOR A QUIET HURRICANE SEASON:What’s next?
AFTER HURRICANE IAN SEE THE FLOODING:These people gathered to rescue residents, horses, cows
Gas tax relief is a timely break for Floridians
Florida’s gas tax relief came at just the right time this weekend as the state begins its long road to recovery from Hurricane Ian. The Florida Motor Fuel Tax Relief Act of 2022 kicked in Saturday and dropped the price of gas to an average of $3.26 per gallon, the lowest daily average price since January. The state’s average price per gallon decreased 13 cents this week and reinforces the already steep drop in pump prices since the summer.
“While not everyone might be lucky enough to see sub-$3 gas, all Floridians should expect a significant discount this week,” AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said.
– Ana Goñi-Lessan, Tallahassee Democrat
The deployment of the newest aircraft carrier was delayed by the weather
The first deployment of the Navy’s newest and most advanced aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, which was set to set sail Monday from Norfolk, Va., was postponed due to storm surge concerns, the 2nd Fleet announced of the Navy The new deployment date was not announced. Ford is the flagship of the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group, more than 1,000 feet long and capable of carrying a crew of 4,500. It will eventually sail in the Atlantic alongside the ships of NATO allies, the Navy said.
Cat rescue goes viral, collects donations
Michael Ross of Naples was in Bonita Springs when Hurricane Ian came through. Ross, 29, said he and his family looked out the window and saw a cat clinging to an air conditioning unit. A video of Ross wading through the swirling waters to pull the cat to safety went viral and has helped raise thousands of dollars in donations.
“I was able to go out there and get it, and it’s a good thing I did,” Ross said. “After I took that video, the water came up like 6 more feet. And the air conditioner I was sitting in was under water.”
Ross started a GoFundMe page to support displaced pets and people in need. So far he has raised over $22,000. But he still couldn’t find the owner of the cat.
“If we can’t find one, I’ll keep it,” Ross said.
– Tomas Rodriguez, Naples Daily News
After Hurricane Ian cleared, ‘all the water came’
Flooding from Ian’s 20 inches of rain blocked several roads in Florida’s DeSoto County, turning some neighborhoods into islands. In addition to flooding homes, the waters engulfed a gas station and the Pau River Campground, where about 150 people live year-round, officials said. Persistent widespread power outages and poor cell service hampered evacuation efforts via airboats despite assistance from the Florida National Guard. Authorities were distributing water and prepared meals to stranded people who did not want to leave.
“We know about hurricanes, but flooding is something new for us,” said DeSoto County Commissioner JC Deriso. “Our community was pretty well prepared for the storm. But the flood was pretty unexpected. Rivers rise and fall every year. But what we saw was once in a lifetime. At least we hope so.” Read more here.
– Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY
DeSantis seeks accelerated recovery effort for ‘500-year flood event’
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Sunday pushed for accelerated recovery efforts in Southwest Florida, which was heavily damaged by Ian last week. DeSantis toured some of the areas still experiencing flooding from the storm, examining boat damage in North Port in Sarasota County and then in Arcadia in DeSoto County. Earlier in the day, he distributed food and water to hurricane victims in Naples, Collier County.
Homes in Arcadia were still flooded up to their roofs and mobile homes almost completely submerged, DeSantis said at a news conference Sunday.
“This was such a big storm, that brought so much water, that you basically have what has been a 500-year flood here in DeSoto County and some of the neighboring counties,” DeSantis said.
Nearly 600,000 homes and businesses across Florida were without power Monday, according to PowerOutage.us. Florida Power & Light, the state’s largest utility, said it had restored power to about 1.7 million customers and expected to restore most power by Friday.
– Colleen Wixon, Treasure Coast Newspapers
Fort Myers faithful share their stories of Ian’s survival
On Sunday morning, several dozen seniors filtered into a battered church in Fort Myers not far from where Hurricane Ian made landfall a few days earlier. Outside was an overturned Jeep and dumpsters blown into a tree line. A nearby discount mall and mobile home park were badly done. Power lines hung over a road leading to Sanibel Island, cut off by a destroyed bridge.
Beneath Southwest Baptist’s demolished steeple were sodden floors and holes in the roof. The pages of the Bible were spread out to dry. In the chapel, displaced members slept on makeshift beds made from chairs and water boiled with propane burners.
The church insisted on holding a service, even if it had to be held outside, for a vulnerable community affected by loss and trauma. Read the whole story.
– Chris Kenning, USA TODAY
Ian’s death toll rises to at least 68, thousands rescued in Florida
Ian’s death toll rose to at least 68 people with 61 fatalities confirmed in Florida, four in North Carolina and three in Cuba, where Ian first made landfall on Tuesday. More than 4,000 people were rescued in Florida by federal, state and local authorities, according to FEMA and US Coast Guard officials. After weathering the storm on the barrier islands, Sanibel and Pine, some residents were evacuated by helicopter.
The islands remained inaccessible by car when parts of the causeway to Sanibel collapsed and the bridge to Pine, the largest barrier island on Florida’s Gulf Coast, was destroyed by the storm.
Contributing: Jorge L. Ortiz and Nada Hassanein, USA TODAY; Sergio Bustos, USA TODAY Network Florida; Ed Reed and Stacey Henson, Fort Myers News-Press; The Associated Press