More than 1.5 million people find themselves without power in Florida as Hurricane Ian makes landfall and increases intensity, carrying with it 150 mph winds and heavy rain during the afternoon on Wednesday.
In Fort Myers, a weather station “recorded a water level seven feet higher than the average height of the highest daily tides,” The New York Times reported with information from the National Hurricane Center.
The storm has already tied for “the fifth-strongest hurricane on record to strike the United States,” The Washington Post reported.
What should Florida residents do while Hurricane Ian storms?
Florida residents along the west coast of the state were told to evacuate, with Florida Sen. Rick Scott saying on CNN, “You can rebuild that house. You can’t rebuild your life.”
For residents who have not evacuated but are starting to see the effects of the storm, emergency management experts warn that “they should go to a room with no or few windows and avoid windows or glass doors during the storm,” according to USA Today.
What is the damage from Hurricane Ian in Florida so far?
It’s hard to say until the storm has passed, but Insurance Information Institute spokeswoman Loretta Worters told The New York Times that the value of loss could be between $20 billion and $40 billion.
What is the ‘Waffle House Index’?
The renowned breakfast chain is a staple in most cities in the south, and it’s typically known for always being open. So when Waffle House closes, things are serious.
According to USA Today, the “Waffle House Index” is used to provide an idea of how an area can rebound from a devastating storm or catastrophe.
“The index itself isn’t just about whether or not you can get pralines on your waffles or if you can get waffles at all, but rather about the damage in a neighborhood,” a FEMA blog post states.
A total of 21 Waffle House locations closed in the mandatory evacuation areas in Florida on Wednesday, per NBC News.
Crisis management teams and locals can get an idea of how bad the recovery could be by how full the menu being served by Waffle House throughout the storm and post-storm.
What’s next for Hurricane Ian?
As the storm continues to move inland, weather experts have lowered the storm to a Category 3, claiming it will continue to grow weaker the more inland it goes, per CNN.