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Reluctant or unable to evacuate, some Florida residents weathered Hurricane Ian


© Reuters. Hotel guests watch from a hallway window as gusts from Hurricane Ian approach Florida’s Gulf Coast in Sarasota, Florida, U.S. September 28, 2022. REUTERS / Steve Nesius

By Sharon Bernstein and Rich McKay

(Reuters) – Outside the window of Susan Flack’s darkened apartment in Naples, Florida, on Wednesday, trees bent in the wind and a portable toilet drifted with rising floodwaters.

Flack, one of thousands of people who decided to carry out the official evacuation order and weather Hurricane Ian, is not worried about her safety. Going down to the second floor of the building, where the power went out all day and the lobby was flooded with water, she videotaped the outside.

The retired lawyer said in a phone interview: “The hysteria is not going to help.

Ian hit Florida’s Gulf Coast with tremendous force Wednesday, exposing the state to howling winds, torrential rain and a treacherous wave that made it one of the strongest hurricanes ever. recorded landings in the United States.

Approximately 2.5 million coastal residents and others in the danger zone around Tampa, Ft. Myers and nearby communities were ordered or encouraged to evacuate ahead of the major storm. But many have failed to do so, with some simply vowing to skip it and others unable to leave for financial or other reasons.

In Sarasota County, officials warned that emergency vehicles would not respond to calls for help until it was safe on the road. Those unable to go out on Wednesday afternoon, officials said, need to shelter in place.

“Most people heed the warnings about evacuating in those very sensitive locations, but not everyone can do it,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said.

Inside her St.Petersburg home on Wednesday, Vanessa Vazquez, 50, appeased four cats she had stayed in the care of. The electricity blinked off as the storm rumbled overhead. But the software engineer doesn’t regret her decision.

“I don’t want to go yet,” she said.

In Venice, Doug Toe walked through the rain Wednesday morning to see how a friend’s home was weathering the storm. Toe admits he’s never experienced a storm of this magnitude, but he’s undaunted by the prospect of it wreaking havoc in his neighborhood.

“I’m always on guard, but try not to worry,” he says.

Nearby, residents of an assisted living facility also decided to weather the storm in a new building meant to weather the most severe storms.

Flack said she went to her Naples apartment from her home in Washington, DC to watch her 16-year-old grandson play in a baseball tournament.

The storm ruined the tournament’s plans. But she decided not to leave, partly because the storm did not initially make landfall in Naples and also because she hoped her son’s family would visit after the storm passed.

By Wednesday, the road below looked like a river. Lawn furniture and a neighbor’s car passed. Flack was sure her car was also flooded.

“I’m not scared,” she said. “But I’m annoyed with myself for not moving my car.”

Read more:

Cuba slowly begins to restore electricity after Hurricane Ian knocks out the grid

Worst Hurricane in Florida History as Ian Targets

How hurricanes cause dangerous, destructive storms

How climate change is driving hurricanes

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