In late September, a major hurricane swept toward southwest Florida, threatening the Tampa Bay area, home to more than 3 million people.
A direct hit to Tampa is one of those doomsday scenarios that could send 10-feet of water into streets, claim countless lives, and cause billions of dollars in economic damage.
Before Hurricane Ian made landfall, the storm intensified — with wind speeds just shy of a Category 5 hurricane — and turned south, hitting the sparsely populated area around Cayo Costa in Lee County. But Ian still devastated the coast and killed more than 120 people, making it Florida’s worst storm in 90 years.
As the storm made landfall, we first flew to Boston, where we followed a team of disaster modelers as they watched the storm and calculated potential losses.
The initial estimate was shockingly high: $100 billion in losses. Only about $63 billion of that is insured. But it’s just a number on a screen.
To truly understand the data points, we visited Gasparilla Mobile Estates in Placida, FL, a mobile home park near a beach practically flattened by the storm. We spoke to residents who lost everything. Most people don’t have insurance.
This episode is a season prelude of sorts. For the past six months we’ve been reporting on hurricanes that tore through the state a few hours southeast of Miami. But we knew we had to cover this hurricane and its aftermath because the next hurricane could hit Miami. We wanted to understand how people decide to stay or go; Rebuild or retreat.
In season two How we survive, we follow money to the ends of the earth. In this case, South Florida. New episodes are released every Wednesday. Follow us on your favorite podcast app and tell a friend you enjoyed the show.
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