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Hurricane Ian's ecological implications and United Way update

Lovers Key Beach damage
Tom James/Pelican Media
Lovers Key Beach damage

It’s all hands on deck right now when it comes to relief efforts across southwest Florida in the wake of Hurricane Ian, which made landfall as a strong category 4 storm near Sanibel Island on Sept. 28 in the early afternoon.

So far in total, Hurricane Ian has caused at least 137 fatalities, including 126 in Florida. Current estimates of Hurricane Ian’s total cost — including damages and lost economic activity — range from $65 billion to as much as $120 billion.

We learn about the work being done right now by The United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee. They’re partnering with the Collaboratory in downtown Fort Myers which is raising money through the SWFL Emergency Relief Fund. To get a sense of what they’re focusing on right now, and the work they’re doing managing the 2-1-1 Crisis Helpline, we talk Jeannine Joy, President and CEO of The United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades, and Okeechobee.

Click HERE if you would like to volunteer with The United Way to help with relief efforts.

We also get a first-take on Hurricane Ian’s ecological impact. Ian brought historic storm surge levels in excess of 12 feet in some places. It’s the kind of storm surge emergency managers say they’ve always feared but that we’ve never really experienced in this part of Florida.

To get some perspective on what this storm event might mean for southwest Florida’s ecological systems we talk with Dr. Win Everham, he is a Professor in the Department of Ecology & Environmental Studies at Florida Gulf Coast University and a founding FGCU faculty member.