Sanibel, FL

The life and times of the killer, Ian.

Matthew C. Woodruff

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Ian's Final Path(Graphic by Matthew Woodruff)

Just a couple of years ago I visited Sanibel Island. The bridge/causeway wasn’t as backed up as it could have been, and the Island seemed less busy than at other times. The fragrant laden ocean breeze that normally blows through the island was a striking counterpoint to the warm, azure, sun filled sky.

Ian recently visited Sanibel Island as well, but his visit was much less peaceful than mine.

Ian, like all storms of his nature are comprised of three main parts, the eye which is the relatively calm middle and can be from 20 – 40 miles wide, the eyewall – this is the area of strongest winds, intense thunderstorms, and heavy rain, and the outer bands, these are the concentric bands of intense rain and wind interspersed between areas of less energy. Rainbands are the areas where tornadoes form.

Ian was born as a tropical wave (an elongated area of relatively low air pressure, oriented north to south, which moves from east to west across the tropics, causing areas of cloudiness and thunderstorms), east of the Windward Islands. He developed into a tropical depression two days later as he neared the Cayman Islands. Ian hit Cuba as a Category 3 hurricane where he killed his first victims and knocked out power to the entire island.

Once over Cuba, Ian quickly strengthened into a very powerful category 4 storm. From inception to maximum strength took Ian nine days. Ian became the 5th strongest storm to ever hit the United States.

After passing over Sanibel and Captiva Islands with sustained winds of 155 mph, landfall was made near Cayo Costa, Florida at 3:35 pm on September 29th with sustained winds of 150 mph. Ian caused catastrophic damage in parts of Southwest Florida, mostly from flooding due to extreme storm surge and rainfall. In particular, the cities of Fort Myers and Naples were impacted strongly. Millions were left without power in the storm's wake. Sanibel Island suffered major flooding as well, and its causeway collapsed.

After crossing Florida, Ian turned northward on morning of September 30, and accelerated toward the South Carolina coast, hitting near Georgetown, South Carolina, just after 12:00 pm, with sustained winds of 85 mph.

It may well take years for places like Sanibel Island to recover and as of now, there is no over-land access to this island of 6,382 persons. Ian killed an additional 65 persons in Florida and several more in North Carolina, making Ian’s killing spree a total of 72 people, as of this writing. 17 people remain missing.

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Matthew is a free-lance journalist, and an internationally award-winning author best known for Dark Humor/Lite Horror/Supernatural short stories, as well as an ordained minister who served as a domestic missionary. He is a lover of the unusual, travel, cats and the spark that makes people tick. Matthew is based in Florida, USA.

Gainesville, FL
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