On Tuesday, Hurricane Ian hit Cuba, leaving the entire country without power and causing at least two deaths. By Thursday, Ian had traveled up through southwest Florida, causing more destruction and at least 2.6 million power outages.
Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis said Ian would “rank as one of the top five hurricanes to ever hit the Florida peninsula” and predicted that it could take years to recover from the damage. Storm surges and rapid coastal floods were expected to rise up to 18 feet above ground level — an unprecedented rate for Florida’s west coast. The hurricane also reached 150-mph sustained winds.
In Florida, first responders are facing difficulty trying to reach those stranded in record-breaking floods, and two bridges that connect Florida barrier islands to the mainland have been destroyed, meaning that the only way to get help to these places is via boat. On Thursday, President Joe Biden said there were early reports indicating “what may be substantial loss of life.” As of Friday morning, there were at least four reported deaths.
Downgraded to a tropical storm, Ian is expected to travel to South Carolina and Georgia next, with South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia all declaring states of emergency. Across Cuba and Florida, first responders and residents are dealing with the effects of Ian. This hurricane comes shortly after Hurricane Fiona ravaged Puerto Rico.
If you’re able, here are organizations accepting donations to help:
- Dream Defenders, a Florida organization led by young BIPOC whose work spans advocating for prison reform to teaching Black history, is currently accepting items like water and first-aid kits, monetary donations, and volunteers.
- Donate to the Florida Disaster Fund, which is Florida’s official private fund for Florida communities in times of emergency or disaster.
This post has been updated.