If you're a DeSantis lover click away now.
You were fairly warned.
Ian came roaring into the Naples/Port Charlotte area as a strong hurricane and trashed a bunch of people's homes and businesses. Hurricanes do that, as South Florida was rudely awakened to by Andrew in the "modern era", not that Andrew was the first -- nor will Ian be the last.
I lived in Florida for 20 years, on the water, and Ivan came to visit quite-closely, along with a bunch of lesser storms over that time. From roughly June to November I was checking what was up in the tropics on a more-or-less daily basis. It goes with living in the State, and trips out of town on an extended basis during those months are unwise, especially if you can't abort them and get back within 48 hours or so. I have a bit of a perspective on these things, as you might imagine.
Unlike a tornado or earthquake you get plenty of warning with a hurricane. Two or three days is usual from "you're likely to get it" to getting it, and frequently you get five days of warning, although the uncertainty at that timeline is frequently large. Being just 50 miles off one way or the other on where it goes is the difference between taking it in the face and it raining on your back porch, as I pointed out when Michael came in with first-hand live footage. It rained and was a bit windy in my Lanai. Over toward Panama City and Mexico Beach they got pasted.
A friend of mine lives in Venice. They're fine; a bit of cosmetic damage, but nothing serious. Fort Myers? Pasted.
"Climate change" is the bogeyman for whatever happens with the weather. Its nonsense. You need only look at the actual record of hurricanes to find plenty of really nasty ones that have hit the US, including Florida.
But before A/C made it so popular, and particularly post-Andrew and may I remind you the population of the state has risen about 60% since then the simple reality is that if you put more people on what was swampland, fill it and then pave it over, you put more value in both assets and humans in the path of the natural destructive forces of nature while at the same time building things on subsiding (that is, sinking) ground and, to top off the stupidity, you also destroy much of the natural buffer that used to be there in the form of those swamps you turned into subdivisions and commercial buildings.
CNN ever pointed this out in a shocking bit of truth wildly out of character with their usual histrionics. But what they didn't point out is yet another part of the reason for the destructiveness of these storms -- frauds.
Post-Andrew the state toughened building codes, and that was good. But what they didn't do was put anything into criminally punishing firms and individuals who commit fraud against said codes, nor have they gone after the myriad scammers that show up after every storm both in the contracting business and among homeowners themselves.
After every one of these storms you can find "newer" houses -- post Andrew -- that clearly did not meet the roofing codes. How do you know? Because the evidence is in the middle of the street or speared through the neighbor's building missing the allegedly-required enhancements. Stopping this is not difficult: First you throw every contractor personally in prison who cheats in this manner no matter when they did it when the storm comes and the roof is in the next door neighbor's back yard and you throw in prison all of the so-called county inspectors who either didn't actually inspect or knowingly signed off on work that was crap.
I personally caught a bit of this but not in storm mitigation -- in my case it was electrical work that I had done to install a dock and it was done wrong. The county "inspector" signed off on the work but obviously never opened the newly-installed subpanel and look, which means he didn't inspect anything. I subsequently found it when I went to install a whole-house surge suppressor, fixed it and reamed him a new orifice but he should have gone to prison because it was possible, given time and ordinary wear and tear, that this could have led to a hazardous condition including possibly electrocuting me while I was on my dock at some point in the future.
You see when it comes to permitted work all such scams must have not one but two people committing crimes -- first, the contractor who does the not-to-code thing, and then the so-called "inspector" who doesn't actually inspect, whether out of laziness or perhaps something more-direct.
The same thing applies to roofs. If there's supposed to be a secondary barrier (basically an adhesive rubber membrane) there so if your shingles get ripped off it doesn't rain in the house for the next eight hours where's the inspector verifying it is in fact there before it gets covered up? Ditto for the hurricane "clips" and ties again, before they're covered up and inaccessible.
Then there are towns and other entities (including HOAs) that prohibit cutting of trees that are in the fall line of your roof. In a hurricane-prone area that's nuts and should lead to criminal liability for the HOAs and municipalities involved. It is not that the wind blows its what the wind blows and a 100' tree coming down on your roof is going to destroy it and at least part of your house every time.
Now let's add to this the outrageous games played by both homeowners and others when it comes to "insurance." I've seen it. Someone has an older roof, it needs replacement but they don't feel like paying the check for that. Tropical storm comes in, no worse than an average thunderstorm in terms of wind and suddenly they have "roof damage" and claim it on insurance. That's fraud. Have you ever heard of someone going to prison for this? The roofing company knows damned well there was no storm damage and certainly not worthy of what was claimed, as does the "homeowner."
Then there is the orgy of schemers and scammers that inevitably show up after these storms. Seen that too. All I'll observe in that regard is that sharks have a purpose and they are often hungry, but once again nobody ever goes to prison for any of this.
Could Florida fix a lot of this? You bet. But they never have, and won't. After all it generates a lot of business activity, doesn't it?
Could Florida, after Andrew, insisted that those who wish to build or do major repairs and upgrades in a surge-prone area do so with no living level below the highest reasonable surge level including reasonably-expected wave height on top of that? Yep. Oh, but the old people want a slab-on-grade single-floor house on the water! Uh...... ok then that particularly house or other structure is deemed uninsurable and the prospective owner, before its built, signs a permanent waiver that gets attached to the deed. If the storm comes (and it eventually will), so sorry so sad that's just tough crap.
Oh but then those palatial mansions could not be insured! Correct -- and maybe they wouldn't be built either.
Look at some of the pictures. Many of these homes have intact roofs. The structure didn't fail, it flooded. There's not a damn thing you can do about that other than don't build anything you care about that low. Mexico Beach was full of places that were cheap vacation spots or cheap residences when built because the people who put them on the beach back then knew damn well that a hurricane would destroy them. That was then, 30 or 40 years later said "cheap place to look at the nice ocean" gets flipped a few times, embellished and suddenly is a million dollar+ house that still gets destroyed when the hurricane comes -- and it always eventually does.
Do we know that building things right through code changes works? You bet. Witness Charlie, which trashed Punta Gorda. Ian came through the same place, almost-exactly. The school and courthouse, both of which were badly damaged by Charlie, were rebuilt properly. Guess what? Neither took so much as a broken window from Ian.
Of course there's also the barrier island problem, which is a whole different level of crazy. Barrier islands are not permanent. They never have been. Oh sure, maybe they are from the perspective of a human lifetime, but maybe not too. Sanibel Island anyone?
Hell, Navarre Beach had a pass cut through by man in the 1960s -- and shortly thereafter Hurricane Betsy had other ideas and closed it back off! One storm erased what man created in a few hours.
I get it.
People like to live near the water.
They bid up property near the water but don't want to build a house on structural piers that will laugh at 15' of surge and then a structure on said piers that will laugh at 150mph winds. They also want to shift the cost of "beach renourishment" to be paid in part by someone else to get around the fact that nature reshapes beaches all the time, frequently via storms, and if you don't intervene at very high expense your house on piers might be 50' into the surf.
I get it.
Really, I do.
But then we must accept that we're basically giving the finger to nature, and there's a reason we call it mother nature, frequently using another word right after "mother" rather than "nature." Having lived on the Florida Gulf Coast for 20 years the standard "chestnut" of people who live there is that about once a decade you get a "good one." Maybe not in the face, just close, but close enough to matter and when enough of those decades pass one of them will be "in your face."
It's not "global" anything; there have always been hurricanes, including really bad hurricanes -- and there always will be.