Oct 2, 2022

Florida residents take stock of damage as rescues continue after Ian Transcript

Florida residents take stock of damage as rescues continue after Ian Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsHurricane IanFlorida residents take stock of damage as rescues continue after Ian Transcript

As damage estimates grow, Ian may become one of the costliest storms in U.S. history. Read the transcript here.

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Speaker 1: (00:00)
Tonight, the remnants of Hurricane Ian are making their way inland across North Carolina and Virginia. In the wake of this massive storm, at least 30 people are confirmed dead, mostly in Florida, and that number is expected to increase. Damage estimates are also growing and Ian is thought to be one of the costliest storms in US history. John Yang has this report from Florida.

John Yang: (00:27)
People ventured back to Fort Myers any way they could; by kayak, by bicycle, and gingerly by foot over widespread wreckage. The city is barely recognizable after being pummeled by Ian in a near direct hit.

Tammy Clementine: (00:42)
I was stuck in that tree.

John Yang: (00:45)
Tammy Clementine rode out the storm by clinging to her roof. She lost everything except her dogs.

Tammy Clementine: (00:51)
Oh, it was scary as hell. It was like Twister. It was scary. I mean, everything was just falling in my house; refrigerator, TVs, all brand new stuff. Brand new living room set, just got it. No insurance.

John Yang: (01:06)
The sheer power of the storm slammed a large boat into this Fort Myers apartment complex. 25-year-old Anthony Rivera helped his loved ones to safety.

Anthony Rivera: (01:16)
To see a boat literally right next to my apartment as I’m trying to pull my grandmother and my girlfriend out, that’s the scariest thing in the world because I can’t stop no boat. I’m not Superman.

Stevie Scuderi: (01:28)

John Yang: (01:29)
79-year-old Stevie Scuderi had to swim to an empty second floor unit for safety. Her apartment is ruined.

Stevie Scuderi: (01:38)
I just told myself I feel like I want to sit in a corner and cry. I don’t know what else to do. I just don’t know.

John Yang: (01:50)
Over Sanibel Island, the US Coast Guard has been on search and rescue missions, hoisting people to safety from the water-logged island which is completely cut off.

John Yang: (01:59)
How deep is this now?

Speaker 6: (02:01)
Oh, this is at least two and a half… Two feet, two and a half feet, and it gets deeper as we go that way.

John Yang: (02:08)
Scott Thinnes lives in Venice where the initial storm flooding had receded, but now, new flooding from the overwhelmed Myakka River is taking over. He took us to his house by boat. This morning, the river was at a record 12.73 feet. Two feet above major flood stage and still rising. Neighbor Allen Pomerleau and his daughter Carly stood in waist-deep water helping Scott and his wife Shannon.

Shannon Thinnes: (02:35)
We renovated in 2014, and we put things in the house to be much higher than the highest flood we’ve ever had so that we could sustain things like this without any damage. And it’s gone over our hot water heater, our water system, all of our plugs. So, everything that we had done to accommodate the river, it’s just a record high, so we’ve gone underwater.

John Yang: (02:59)
It’s not just humans who are suffering in Ian’s wake. Animals have paid a price, too. At the Wildlife Center of Southwest Florida in Venice, they rescue and rehabilitate animals native to the state. Pamela Defouw is the executive director.

Pamela Defouw: (03:13)
We’ve seen a lot of birds of prey with fractured wings, and a lot of that has to do with the obvious high rate of wind that came through knocking them out of trees. The same with the squirrels. They blow out of their nest, and then they’re laying on the ground for 10 to 12 hours because the storm was so long.

John Yang: (03:32)
And the far-reaching effects of Ian aren’t over. The storm continued its march up the East Coast, hitting the Carolinas with rains and high winds. The storm surge knocked out piers along the coast. In Florida this afternoon, FEMA administrator, Deanne Criswell, acknowledged the long road to recovery.

Deanne Criswell: (03:51)
We have already started the planning efforts for what it’s going to take to rebuild these communities and recover from this storm, but also recover in a way that makes them more resilient against some of the impacts from these storms in the future.

Anthony Rivera: (04:04)
This was scary. This my first ever hurricane experience. I was scared. I just hope it gets better.

John Yang: (04:14)
But for many in Southwest Florida and beyond, full recovery is still weeks, if not months, away. Another distinctive feature about this storm, officials say it caused more water damage than wind damage here in Florida. And as you can see, the sun and the sun seekers have returned to the beaches of Southwestern Florida, but in the days ahead, there is a lot of hard work for a lot of people. Jeff.

Speaker 1: (04:41)
And John, what do we know about the cost of recovery in Florida and elsewhere resulting from Hurricane Ian?

John Yang: (04:48)
There are some estimates that this could be the most costliest storm in US history by one estimate up to $100 billion, billion with a B. But a lot of this stuff can’t be quantified, I think back to the people we met earlier today in Venice, Florida. Having to use boats to get in and out of their neighborhood which is totally inundated by several feet of water, several feet of standing water in their homes, their mailboxes underwater. True, none of them lost roofs. None of them lost a wall. And thank goodness, none of them lost their lives. But they do have water just sitting in their homes. True, furniture and carpeting can be replaced, but some may have lost family mementos, and you can’t put a price tag on that. Jeff.

Speaker 1: (05:39)
That’s true. John Yang reporting for us tonight from Siesta Key, just outside Sarasota, Florida. John, our thanks to you.

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