An Update on Hurricane Idalia Damage in Florida

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August’s Hurricane Idalia was one of the most destructive hurricanes of the 2023 hurricane season, and it caused billions of dollars of property damages and several fatalities across the southeastern United States. Here’s an update on the Hurricane Idalia damage and disaster recovery efforts.

When and where was Hurricane Idalia?

Hurricane Idalia began as a low-pressure area in the southern Pacific Ocean that strengthened as it moved across Central America and into the southern Atlantic Ocean. As the event moved northward, it rapidly increased in strength and quickly was reclassified as a tropical depression and then a tropical storm.

In the Gulf of Mexico, the storm evolved into a strong Category 4 hurricane, but it weakened to a Category 3 hurricane before making landfall in the Big Bend region of the Florida panhandle. From here, it moved through southern Georgia and the Carolinas, eventually receding back to the Atlantic Ocean and weakening to a tropical storm classification. As a tropical storm, Idalia moved back southward, where it eventually passed Bermuda before dissolving.

Assessing the damage

Exact numbers haven’t yet been calculated for how much damage was caused by Hurricane Idalia, but most early estimates say that insured damages are probably in the range of two to three billion dollars. Some estimates place the damages as low as $500 million or as high as $4 billion, however, so it’s really too early to know for sure.

Aside from property damage, hundreds of thousands of homes across Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas lost power during the storm, and several hundred flights in and out of the region were canceled. The storm also caused over 6,000 power outages in Bermuda, where it touched down while classified as a tropical storm.

Was anyone hurt?

Not only can hurricanes cause large amounts of property damage, but the threat they pose to human life is also significant. At least nine people died directly or indirectly because of the storm, including four in Florida and Georgia during the hurricane and at least five due to dangerous rip currents the storm created in the Atlantic Ocean across the East Coast.

This accounts for a significant amount of the fatalities caused by hurricanes this year, and Idalia alone is responsible for nearly all of the 11 deaths caused by hurricanes in the Atlantic during this season.

FEMA, other government, and nonprofit efforts

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been working closely with state and local officials, as well as nonprofit aid organizations, to provide assistance to those affected by the storm. Luckily, hurricanes are one of the more predictable types of natural disasters, so response efforts were initiated before the real damage even set in.

Both President Biden and Florida Governor Ron Desantis declared a state of emergency and approved emergency disaster recovery efforts to help victims of the hurricane. Initially, the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army helped out by supplying trucks of food, medical supplies, and other useful items to help those in need.