There was the one in the 1980s that he spent playing Nintendo in his trailer home as the water rose toward his doorstep. During Hurricane Charley, he cowered with his landlord’s Rottweiler, Chopper, in the back of a junkyard pickup. And in 2018, Hurricane Michael sent him scrambling for cover through the drive-up window of an old bank.
But when he heard how bad Ian might be, he decided his days of disregarding hurricane warnings were over. On Wednesday, he was one of more than 6,000 people who had arrived at shelters in Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa. Mr. Hembree, who is retired from a job cleaning oil tankers and uses a wheelchair, was staying at a shelter at Erwin Technical College that had been designated for people with special needs.
“I live two blocks from the Hillsborough River,” he said as he took a drag of a cigarillo outside the building. “We’re not going through this again.”
Instead of bringing storm surge to Tampa Bay — one of forecasters’ biggest fears when it comes to storms hitting Florida — Hurricane Ian pushed the water out, leaving it less than a foot deep in some areas. The phenomenon, which also occurred during Hurricane Irma, is sometimes referred to as a reverse, or negative, storm surge. Winds to the north of the storm blew in from the east, pushing water away from the shoreline, said Christopher Slocum, a physical scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Florida has one of the most rigorous building codes in the country, a result of construction rules adopted after Hurricane Andrew destroyed tens of thousands of homes in South Florida in 1992. In more recent storms, such as Hurricane Irma, structures built under modern codes have performed better than older buildings. By contrast, in states without mandatory and up-to-date building codes, such as Tennessee and Kentucky, the damage from extreme weather events tends to be far worse.
Though the full extent of the havoc Hurricane Ian has wreaked in Southwest Florida will not be known for some time, other parts of the state that were pounded by the storm assessed their flood damage on Wednesday.
Source: The New York Times