Hurricane Ian Causes Mass Devastation in Cuba and Florida

By Kelly Bjornstad

Hurricane Ian began as a Category 4 storm, but later went down in rank to a tropical storm. Ian first hit the western coast of Florida with an uproar of 150 mph winds and extreme rain and flooding. It was the cause for a cut in power for around 2.5 million residents, and brought harbor boats right into people’s front lawns. The hurricane earned  itself the title of one of the top 5 hurricanes to ever hit the Florida peninsula, and has caused several casualties. And if evacuees weren’t able to clear the area before the storm hit, raging waters kept them from transporting themselves to safety. 

But before it hit Florida, the highly televised event that was on every news channel, hurricane Ian ripped through Cuba. Cuba too suffered power outages, but on a much larger scale. An island wide shortage, affecting around 11 million residents, left people in the dark and very vulnerable. Homes were desolated just the same as Florida, and huge amounts of agricultural resources were damaged. As a result, U.S.News Reports ¨Cubans have staged protests against the government over the power loss, which heightened concerns over ongoing food, fuel and medicine shortages.¨

Hurricane Ian also led to an emergency assistance request from Cuba to the United States where the Washington Post explains that hospitals, water pumping facilities, sanitation, and other critical infrastructure would be put at priority with the requested aid. As protests erupt in Havana, Capitol to Cuba, Biden’s unfulfilled promise made in 2021 to re-engage with Cuba after long standing tension has led to the opposite of what it was intended to ease, and has instead ended up in the sanction of Cuban officials. People have been chanting “Turn on the lights” while marching down main drags and expressing verbal unrest towards President Miguel Diaz-Canel with anti-government slogans. But as of Friday, 60 percent of the population has been given power once again. Officials expect that by the end this week, the entirety of the country will have power as well. 

Casualties in Florida have reached 107, and Cuba lost 2 people- a man and a woman who were both killed during the collapse of their own home. On Thursday, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marcino spoke with CNN saying “I just literally got out of a helicopter where I was able to take a complete tour of the entire county and there’s really no words that I can say to tell you what I’ve seen,” The Florida department of Emergency Management tweeted ¨Emergency responders conducted rescues by air, land and boat to save people trapped by the floodwaters. As of 2 p.m. Thursday, more than 500 people have been rescued in Charlotte and Lee counties.¨Infrastructural collapse has been one of the most substantial threats through hurricane Ian, and according to CNBC, damage costs are estimated to be over 47 billion dollars. 

As hurricane Ian dies down, rescuers continue to search for anyone stranded and in need of assistance. It can only be hoped that all those in Florida are somewhere safe and dry- as hospitals too have been struggling with loss of water and power. With over 900 people inhibiting hospitals as a result of Hurricane Ian- some being transported to multiple locations in their critical conditions, Florida is definitely facing serious repercussions of Hurricane Ian´s damage in Fort Myers, Naples, and other parts of the state. Florida has shown an astounding amount of resilience as they work towards recovery. 

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