Florida is no stranger to big hurricanes. The winds of one storm in 1935, in at about 185 mph, were among the most intense to make landfall on record in the Atlantic. Back when storms weren’t given names, it still got one: the Great Labor Day Hurricane.
In the process, Florida, like other places, is also learning how to better respond and adapt to the risks it faces. The arrival of Hurricane Ian today is proving a big test, bringing intense rains, winds, and storm surges from the Fort Myers area to the north of the state and into Georgia. Cuba is already working to restore power after Ian knocked out electricity across the island.
The back-to-back arrival of two big storms – Fiona last week, now Ian – is a reminder that many regions need this kind of preparedness. Fiona hit hard in Puerto Rico and maintained its intensity all the way to eastern Canada.
The risks are age-old, but this is an era when rising coastal development is coinciding with climate change that, researchers say, is making intense storms like Ian more likely. Our reporters are working on a story, for tomorrow, on both the threats and the response.
Already, efforts in the wake of Fiona are very visible, from finding homes for rescued animals to offering long-term repairs and relief.
New York Mayor Eric Adams visited the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico this week, representing a city where many citizens and groups are seeking to mobilize aid.
University of Minnesota football player Steven Ortiz Jr., from Puerto Rico, has arranged for the proceeds from his athletic “name, image, likeness” deal to go to the island during October. Mr. Ortiz draws inspiration from former baseball star and fellow Puerto Rican Roberto Clemente, who died in a 1972 plane crash seeking to help Nicaraguans after a devastating earthquake.
President Joe Biden pledged significant federal assistance with emergency response on the island.
And, laying aside partisan differences, the president and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke Tuesday night about this week’s hurricane. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a press briefing Wednesday that there are “no politics” when it comes to helping people after disaster.