Hurricane Ian: Anniversary of destructive storm is grim reminder for Central Florida residents

Thursday marked one year since Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida. Floridians are still cleaning up and rebuilding as a sobering anniversary arrives. 

The fifth-strongest hurricane to ever make landfall in the U.S. was a Category 4 monster when it clobbered Southwest Florida on September 28, 2022. Ian tied Hurricane Charlie, 2004, as the fourth-most-powerful storm to ever hit Florida

Central Florida families rebuilding one year since Ian

FOX 35 met with four families in Brevard, Orange, and Seminole counties who are currently rebuilding after the storm. 

Ian’s incessant rain seeped through the windows of a home in Port St. John owned by Rain and her husband, Kevin.  The estimated repairs to their Brevard County home cost $220,000. FEMA pitched in 5%. It’s now a battle in court to get the rest from insurance.

"This could’ve been solved easily," Rain said. "Just tell us how to fix it. Help us fix it. Somebody help us fix it!"

Maricel Jacobo, who lives in Orange County's Orlo Vista neighborhood, was rescued by the National Guard after water rushed into her home.

"For me, I lost everything," Jacobo said. "Everything that I worked for 20 some years in this country I lost in a blink."

Jacobo moved back in months later but now lives in her backyard shed with her husband. The cost of repairs to her house is currently unaffordable.

FOX 35 reported on John Carter's Seminole County home and property in Geneva when Hurricane Ian flooded it. Twelve months later, Carter is in the process of tearing down this house. "It was just enough flooding to where it inundated the entire floor area of the house," he said.

Carter said the house was built in the 1950s as a fishing retreat. "The floor is sloping as one of the beams under the house shifted and cracked, according to the insurance engineer's report."

Carter is getting money from the government for the demolition and rebuild. He planned to build a new raised house on the spot, and he already had the materials for the futuristic dome design. 

"The palate on the far side is all the steel tubing for the frame. The palate in the foreground contains the membrane covering and the insulation," he said.

On another side of Lake Harney, Terri King said the flooding drove her and her family from their house for one month. 

"We had water, you can kind of see the line on the house. Inside, it came to almost my waist," she said. "It took about 30 days before the water completely went down, and we could go back inside the house."

FOX 35 also spoke with King a year ago and saw the inside of her damaged home. She said they were working with their insurers to fix the house and lift it out of harm's way, but it had taken a long time. 

"We just found out today that we got the final architect designs back. Now we can finally go to permitting and start that process."

Seminole County emergency manager Alan Harris said they expected to be connecting people affected by Hurricane Ian with government grants and loans for a long time. Harris says they were ready to assist anyone who had any damage from any storm.

"Recovery is the longest process of any of the phases of emergency management," Harris said. "We're recovering from Hurricane Irma, still!"

Alan Harris, Seminole County emergency manager, said the county expects to connect people affected by Hurricane Ian with government grants and loans for a long time.

"We have a lot of cases like that still out in the community and a lot of case management, a lot of nonprofits, faith organizations, partnering with us," Harris said. "It's really a wonderful public-private partnership but getting through those homes, it's a slow process as well.

Ian was the third-costliest natural disaster to ever hit the U.S., levying $115.2 billion in damages. Analysts estimate that Ian ranked as the second-largest insurance loss in world history behind Katrina.

The storm ranks as the 15th deadliest natural disaster in the nation. Ian was blamed for 152 deaths. NOAA looked at data going back to 1980. In Florida history, Ian was the deadliest storm in over 80 years.

The governor’s office said Florida communities are on the receiving end of more than $1 billion in public assistance funding.

Some information in this article is taken from FOX WEATHER.