The aftermath of Hurricane Ian leaves devastation, billions in damages
Historic, catastrophic, biblical. These are just a few of the words being used to describe the destruction left behind after Hurricane Ian struck Florida before proceeding to pummel the eastern coastline of South Carolina and impact parts of North Carolina. As federal government agencies joined state and local authorities to assess damages and continue rescue and recovery efforts, hundreds of thousands of people are still without power and are facing the monumental task of trying to rebuild their lives.
Hurricane Ian was described as one of the strongest storms ever to hit the United States. It struck Florida as a Category 4 storm with winds reaching 150 miles per hour as it battered the southwestern coast. President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden were scheduled to visit hurricane Fiona-hit Puerto Rico on Oct. 3 and Hurricane Ian-hit Florida on Oct. 5.
“We’re just beginning to see the scale of that destruction. It’s likely to rank among the worst in the nation’s history,” President Biden told reporters on Sept. 30, regarding Hurricane Ian. “You have all seen on television homes and property wiped out. It’s going to take months, years to rebuild. Our hearts go out to all those folks whose lives have been devastated by the storm. America’s heart is literally breaking,” he said.
The hurricane made landfall in Florida, Sept. 28, leaving behind an estimated $65 billion in damages and sending waves of water rushing down city streets, destroying buildings and homes. At Final Call presstime over 100 deaths had been reported with that number expected to rise. Several hospitals were still without water and power in the Fort Myers area of Florida.
Prior to making landfall, President Biden stated that Ian could ultimately be responsible for substantial loss of life and could end up being the deadliest storm in the state’s history. He issued a disaster declaration for Florida that will make federal funding available to nine affected counties that will include grants for temporary housing, home repairs, and loans to cover uninsured property losses, the White House said in a statement.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said during a briefing that more than 700 people had been rescued in Hurricane Ian’s aftermath, and that the number is likely to rise significantly as reports come in.
Of the 1.8 million households in those nine counties, only 29 percent have federal flood insurance. In Hardee County, only 100 households have federal flood insurance out of 8,000 households in the county. Hardee has one of the lowest income levels of any Florida county.
“Ian could financially ruin thousands of families in Florida. There’s no better way to say it,” said Mark Friedlander of the Insurance Information Institute.
“Flood coverage is not included in the homeowners’ insurance policies. That forces people to buy flood insurance separately, though almost no one who lives inland from a coastal area does. The vast majority of flood coverage in the United States is sold through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Flood Insurance Program. People without flood insurance could be devastated,” he said.
According to CNN Radar estimates, well over 12 inches of rain fell in just 12 to 24 hours in a wide swath from Port Charlotte to Orlando. In some of the hardest-hit locations, Hurricane Ian produced 1-in-1,000-year rainfall, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Flash flooding, destructive winds were expected as the remnants of Ian, downgraded to a tropical storm, headed inland. Officials warned people to stay inside. Over one million people in North and South Carolina were left without power on Sept. 30 – Oct. 1 as the storm passed through those states, reported Reuters.
The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, the Eternal Leader of the Nation of Islam, for decades warned the nations of the Earth, specifically America, that the wrath of Allah (God) is imminent due to her wickedness perpetrated against the Black man and woman of America. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught that God would use the forces of nature to pummel and punish America.
“The four (4) Great Judgments that Allah (God) promises to destroy America with are now coming upon her … hail, snow, drought, earthquake. Allah (God) has reserved His treasures of snow and ice to be used against the wicked country America in the day of battle and war. These are some of Allah’s (God’s) weapons, the storms that we see going on,” he warned in his book, “The Fall of America.”
He also wrote in the same seminal book, “All around the Southern Border of America, storms are raging. There are tornadoes and heavy rains and more storms are on the way—one right after another. And in the North and Far West and in the East, America is surrounded with the judgments of Allah (God).”
His top student and National Representative, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, like his teacher, warns of God’s Divine Judgment and also provides much needed guidance for spiritual, mental and physical survival for these times.
Those who are scripturally prepared know that it is prophesied that we would be living at a time of wars and rumors of wars, pestilence, famine and earthquakes in diverse places, Minister Farrakhan stated in 2006 during a visit with a delegation to the Island nation of Cuba to study and learn about disaster preparedness management and the infrastructure of Cuba’s social services.
“We are witnessing terrifying disasters afflicting the people of the world and these disasters are now afflicting the United States of America. Believing that these prophesies will be fulfilled, we felt that it is our duty to learn as much as we can, so that we can return to the United States and prepare documents on disaster preparedness, and in conjunction with local, state and federal government, do all we can to prepare the American people, and our people in particular, for coming disasters,” the Minister explained.
Student Minister Chad Muhammad of Muhammad Mosque No. 47 in Tampa stated the members of the mosque have suffered power outage in the area, and many experienced power outages, including loss of internet service due to Hurricane Ian.
“The hurricane basically picked up bodies of water and moved it to another location; areas that were dry are now filled with water. Some of the Believers had to evacuate due to mandatory evacuation orders. By Allah’s (God’s) Grace, we’re thankful that we were able to attend disaster preparedness workshops and prepare ourselves, especially being in Florida. A lot of the grocery stores ran out of water, so it was good that we had water stored away in our homes, non-perishable items, canned food. Having these Teachings, we were able to have essential emergency items already in our homes,” he told The Final Call.
“Hurricane Ian will have a potentially devastating impact on Florida’s major industries. The state’s tourism and hospitality, citrus production, and phosphate mining businesses are likely to face weeks-long disruptions to their operations, according to experts,” reported nbcnews.com.
The storm is projected to deliver an $8 billion blow to the tourism sector alone. That figure reflects temporary theme park and hotel closures.
“Two of the major internet providers for Cape Coral, Fort Myers, and Naples which are Xfinity and Spectrum, have had severe connection issues. The collapse of connectivity is likely to affect residents’ ability to communicate at this point,” tweeted Isik Mater, the director of research at NetBlocks, a company that tracks internet connectivity globally.
The small island community of Sanibel, Florida, was decimated by the hurricane.
“The damage is catastrophic and it is biblical,” Dana Souza, Sanibel’s city manager, said in an interview on NBC’s “TODAY” show on September 30. “I’ve never seen anything like this … residents who have lived on Sanibel for many, many years, just can’t even understand the damage that we’ve experienced,” he said during the interview. The population of Sanibel is around 6,300 and it is located off the West Coast of Florida, just south of Fort Myers.
The causeway connecting the island to the mainland was severely damaged by the storm, so the island is now only reachable by boat.
Ed Haynes is a former police officer, former police academy instructor from Florida’s Miami-Dade County, and a member of The Circle of Brotherhood, an organization affiliated with members of Muhammad Mosque No. 29 in Miami, who assists with training both police officers and community members to have better understandings of one another
Mr. Haynes told The Final Call that it is of vital importance in situations like this for neighbors to know one another, particularly the elderly and infirmed because of isolation and mobility issues. He explained it is important for the people to look out for each other in a time of emergency and crisis.
“It is so important, whenever things get as they are right now, that individuals understand that ‘sister such-and-such’ is over there, she’s 60, 70 or 80-years-old, retired, doesn’t have mobility like she used to, and everybody starts bailing out. She may not even be watching TV and even aware that there’s an issue,” he said. “It is so important, the concept of ‘I am my brother’s keeper.’”
Mr. Haynes added that cities and towns along Florida’s coastlines often face unique challenges when hurricanes strike and said the dangers associated with high winds and flooding make for one set of hazards, while other problems such as downed powerlines may prove fatal once the storm has passed, especially if submerged in flood waters.
“We have to understand that the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan told us to watch the weather, we have to prepare for every and all things. What we are witnessing is Allah, this is His wrath, this is His way of getting our attention,” stated Christina Muhammad, coordinator for the 10,000 Fearless First Responders in Austin, Texas.
She explained proper preparation is necessary, “such as most importantly keeping up prayer, developing a relationship with Allah, and while having our first aid kits, the to-go bags, and also having our entire home prepared.”
She added, “First thing we should do is check our area, acquaint ourselves with our immediate surroundings and environment, prepare our homes with at least 90 days worth of supplies such as food and water, and medication. Everyone should know CPR.”
As the storm headed toward the Carolinas, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper stated at a press conference, “This storm is dangerous and deadly, heavy rains up to seven inches in some areas are likely to bring flooding, and there’s a chance of tornadoes, statewide. North Carolinians need to be prepared for power outages, gather emergency supplies, and most important, don’t drive through water on the roads.”
Multiple school districts in the Carolinas including private schools went virtual, and more than 280 flights had been cancelled. At least 20,000 people were without power in Horry, Georgetown, and Charleston counties in South Carolina.
Local weather reports expected the storm surge to come in at four to seven feet and coastal flooding may be an issue. Charleston, N.C., National Weather Service tweeted, “Prep for flooding and wind damage. Wind coming in over 75 miles per hour.”
Shawntell Muhammad can be contacted at [email protected]. Final Call Contributing Writer William P. Muhammad and Final Call Staff contributed to this report.