News & Media
Graphic globe drawing shows track of Hurricane Ian
Smart, iStock, Getty Images

Hurricane Ian: 156 Deaths, $112B in Damages

An NHC report on Ian finds it the costliest storm in Fla. history and third in U.S. history. Ian hit SW Fla. on Sept. 28 with wind speeds just shy of a Category 5.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The National Hurricane Center on Monday released its report on the death and destruction caused by Hurricane Ian in 2022 blaming the storm for at least 156 deaths and more than $112 billion in damage in the United States.

That makes it the costliest hurricane in Florida history and third costliest in U.S. history behind Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Harvey in 2017, the report stated.

The system made landfall in southwest Florida on September 28 with peak Category 4 winds of 149 mph. The system had been a Category 5 hurricane earlier in the day before approaching the coast. It then cut across the state with the center of the storm moving across Central Florida and into the Atlantic. It then made landfall in South Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane two days later. It had previously made landfall in Cuba as a Category 3 hurricane and also cut across the Dry Tortugas before it approached Florida’s Southwest coast.

The catastrophic storm surge was blamed for the majority of direct deaths from the hurricane while winds, tornadoes and flooding caused damage across the state.

Of the 66 direct deaths attributed to the storm, all in Florida, storm surge claimed 41 lives, with 36 in Lee County alone. In Central Florida there were 12 direct fatalities from freshwater flooding, the NHC said. Eight direct deaths were categorized as marine fatalities with another four related to wind and one blamed on rough surf.

A boat carrying migrants from Cuba to Florida capsized just off the Florida Keys; four of its passengers swam to shore, five were rescued, only seven bodies were recovered and another 11 people missing from that boat are not among the official tally. Another couple living on board a different boat that went adrift off the Florida Keys during the storm are also still missing.

The hurricane is blamed for another 90 indirect deaths in the U.S. including 84 in Florida, five in North Carolina and one in Virginia. The leading cause of death in those cases was lack of access to timely medical care with 18, the report states. with another 16 blamed on storm-related accidents and 16 to cardiac events. Other reasons include vehicle accidents, storm prep and cleanup, carbon monoxide poisoning, suicide and homicide.

Deaths ranged in ages from 6 to 101 years old.

“However, the peak of the distribution is skewed towards the elderly population. It is possible this is a reflection of demographics in the counties of Southwest Florida but it is consistent with other hurricane landfalls where the oldest die at the highest rates,” the report stated.

There were also five deaths reported in Cuba.

The rising storm surge showed water levels from 9 to 15 feet above ground level in places like Fort Myers Beach, Estero Island and Sanibel Island. Storm surge caused damage along the Atlantic as well with 3-5 feet measured from Daytona Beach north to the Florida-Georgia border.

The highest storm total rainfall recorded was just north of where the storm made landfall in Southwest Florida with 26.95 inches measured in Grove City.

Rainfall in Central Florida ranged from 10-20 inches with major floods along the St. Johns River, Lake George, Crest Lake, Little Wekiva River, and Dunns and Shingle Creek affecting Seminole, Orange, Lake, Putnam and Osceola counties

Rainfall increased again on the Atlantic coast with 21.49 inches measured in Daytona Beach, while South Florida saw less than 10 inches, but still suffered flooding in parts of Martin and St. Lucie counties.

The system produced 15 tornadoes in the U.S. with 14 in Florida from Sept. 27-28 ranging in intensity from EF-0 to EF-2. That includes an EF-2 that struck southern Palm Beach County injuring two after it caused a roof of a house to collapse. An EF-1 tornado struck North Perry Airport in Pembroke Pines in Broward County, causing about $2 million in property damage to buildings and aircraft.

Of the $112.9 billion estimate damage, the majority is centered in Florida with $109.5 billion. The report said an estimated 900 structures were destroyed in Fort Myers Beach and 2,200 damaged.

Lee County saw 52,514 structures impacted, of which 5,369 were destroyed and 14,245 received major damage. Collier County had 33 destroyed buildings with more than 3,500 with major damage while Charlotte County had 200 homes destroyed.

The hurricane also took out roads and bridges to Sanibel and Pine Islands while flooding shut down a portion of Interstate 75 in Sarasota County.

Central Florida flooding led to more than 250 water rescues, 40 structures destroyed in Volusia County with another 1,378 damaged. Osceola County saw damage to 4,100 structures while Seminole saw damage to 1,656.

Florida’s crops took a hit as well with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services estimating $1.1 billion to $1.8 billion in losses.

© 2023 Orlando Sentinel. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.