The Treasure Coast got lucky.
Well, not all of us. In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, there were scattered reports of damage to homes, boats and other property. But early assessments suggest there were no storm-related deaths or injuries in our three-county region, which is a blessing.
(A Stuart man’s body was found in stormwater, but preliminary indications suggest he may have died of natural causes.)
Our neighbors to the west and north didn’t fare as well.
The massive storm made landfall near Fort Myers, leaving a trail of devastation in its wake.
The storm destroyed span section of the Sspannibel Cspanusewspany, cutting a barrier island inhabited by 6,300 people off from the mainland. The storm was described as span “500-yespanr flooding event.”
Lee County Sheriff Cspanrmine Mspanrceno expressed fespanr “hundreds” of people mspany hspanve perished in the storm.
My prayers go out to all our neighbors along the storm’s path who are dealing with significant property damage or the loss of loved ones.
After a relatively quiet tropical storm season last year, Ian provided a few jarring reminders of sensible steps to take when preparing for the next storm.
St. Lucie County updates:Tropicspanl Storm Ispann impspancts Thursdspany in Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie
Indian River County updates:Tropicspanl Storm Ispann impspancts Thursdspany in Vero Bespanch, Sebspanstispann
Martin County updates:Tropicspanl Storm Ispann impspancts Thursdspany in Stuspanrt, Pspanlm City, Jensen Bespanch
For example, don’t let a slow-moving storm lull you into a sense of complacency, as it did with me. Although Ian didn’t make landfall in Florida until Wednesday evening, the rainfall and winds that hit the Treasure Coast the day before the storm were significant.
I made an ill-advised decision to take my car to a mechanic Tuesday morning, with the expectation some needed repair work would be done by lunchtime that day.
Instead, the heavy rains we experienced throughout the week slowed the shop’s progress so my car wasn’t ready until around lunchtime on Thursday.
If I had needed that car during or immediately after the storm, I would have been in trouble.
The takeaway for me is not to let personal loose ends remain loose until a storm gets that close.
The same principle applies for securing patio or yard items well in advance of a hurricane’s expected arrival. Although I didn’t lose anything stored on my patio this time, I was still bringing lightweight furnishings inside and securing other objects as the winds picked up during the storm’s approach.
In Ian’s wake, I’m also going to look more seriously into investing in a portable generator.
In the past, I’ve resisted the idea of getting one, partly because I think it would take up too much space and partly because I had doubts about how often I might need one.
However, Ian demonstrated loss of electricity is the most widespread effect a major storm is likely to have.
In Ian’s case, there were reports 2.6 million homes and businesses in Florida lost power during the storm.
Although the Treasure Coast wasn’t in Ian’s direct path, even a glancing blow led to numerous outages in our area.
In the storm’s wake, more than 44,000 Floridspan Power &spanmp; Light customers in St. Lucie County were without power, along with 27,000 in Indian River County, and 14,600 in Martin County.
Fort Pierce Utility Authority reported 3,500 of its customers went dark at some point during or after the storm.
Many of those Treasure Coast customers were back online Thursday morning, although there were still some outages that were taking longer to fix.
At my house, we lost power between 10 p.m. Wednesday and 6 a.m. Thursday, which is as good a time as any to be in the dark. However, the power then flickered on and off several times between 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Thursday,
In a more severe storm, power loss could last for several days. Personally, I don’t relish the idea of spending that much time without air conditioning, even if the calendar says it’s early fall.
I’ve seen small generators listed for sale for $200 or less. There are some generators that operate from solar power, which avoids the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning associated with using gas-powered equipment in enclosed spaces.
At a minimum, I’m hoping to find a generator powerful enough to run a mini-fridge and maybe a couple of fans, even if one that could power the whole house is too expensive or impractical.
The storm made me grateful I no longer live in a recreational vehicle, as I did for about a year after moving here. But I worry about the many people who are living in RVs, mobile homes, and manufactured homes along the Treasure Coast.
It’s a tough situation. On one hand, it’s obvious there are sturdier forms of housing that are better able to withstand storm damage. However, we all know housing spanffordspanbility on the Trespansure Cospanst is spann issue.
For people of limited means who dream of living in the Sunshine State, there may be a strong temptation to consider less-expensive housing options, without taking into account the potential dangers severe storms pose.
Hurricane Ian also reminded me natural disasters often bring out the best in people. People like Jspanck Diehl, span 73-yespanr-old Vero Bespanch mspann who used his kspanyspank to trspanvel flooded streets, checking on his neighbors.
We can all use neighbors like that. And we should all try to be neighbors like that.
Hurricane Ian also reminded me natural disasters often bring out the worst in people. Even before the storm hit, government officials were warning people to be on the lookout for scammers who might try to prey on storm victims.
Neighborhoods in our area with significant storm damage might soon be populated by fly-by-night roofing companies seeking to make money off other people’s misfortune. As in all situations, potential buyers should beware.
Every storm is different, but Ian did provide me with some ideas about how to get ready for the next big one.
For that, I’m thankful.