Hurricane Idalia Emergency Resources

Hurricane Idalia Emergency Resources

Hurricane Idalia, which made landfall in August of 2023, was a devastating storm that caused significant damage across several states. While the immediate response is over, recovery efforts are still ongoing in 2024.

Hurricane Idalia's Path and Impact

Hurricane Idalia, a powerful Category 4 hurricane that slammed into Florida's Big Bend region in late August 2023, left a path of destruction across the southeastern United States.

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Idalia's origins trace back to a low-pressure system that traversed Central America from the Pacific. Meandering in the western Caribbean, it gradually developed into a tropical depression on August 26th, 2023. Strengthening quickly, it reached tropical storm status just a day later, earning the name Idalia.

What truly made Idalia a force to be reckoned with was its rapid intensification. Favorable water temperatures and low wind shear allowed the storm to explode in strength, reaching Category 4 status on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale (SSHWS) within a few days. At its peak, Idalia boasted sustained winds exceeding 215 kilometers per hour (134 miles per hour).

 

Max Storm Surge Inundation (ft AGL) Additional Details
Keaton Beach to Steinhatchee 8 to 12 ft Severe impacts near the eyewall; up to 12 ft in unpopulated wetlands
Steinhatchee River 9.6 ft Significant inundation in homes (5 to 7 ft AGL); rapid water level rise of 7.2 ft in 1 hour
Keaton Beach 10 to 14 ft Evidence of wave action; few structures for high-quality still water lines
South of Steinhatchee to Suwannee River, including Horseshoe Beach 6 to 9 ft Significant wave damage; debris filling canals; structures removed from foundations
Suwannee River to Chassahowitzka, including Cedar Key 5 to 7 ft NOS tide gauge at Cedar Key recorded 6.89 ft above MHHW; wave damage observed
Cedar Key 3 to 5 ft NOS tide gauge recorded 6.89 ft above MHHW; peak water level occurred at low tide
Crystal River 7.01 ft USGS streamgage recorded 7.01 ft above MHHW
Chassahowitzka River 6.06 ft USGS streamgage recorded 6.06 ft above MHHW
Yankeetown 4 to 5 ft High water marks surveyed along Withlacoochee River
Chassahowitzka to Englewood, including Tampa Bay 3 to 5 ft Clearwater gauge recorded 3.86 ft above MHHW; East Bay recorded 4.56 ft above MHHW; flooded streets in Tampa
Englewood to Naples, including Charlotte Harbor 2 to 4 ft Caloosahatchee River gauge recorded 3.20 ft above MHHW; Naples Pier recorded 3.02 ft above MHHW
South of Naples, including Marco Island, Everglades City, Everglades National Park 1 to 3 ft Minimal impacts in Florida Keys; Key West gauge recorded 1.47 ft above MHHW
West of Dekle Beach 4 to 6 ft In remote wetlands
Big Bend 3 to 5 ft USGS streamgage at Spring Creek recorded 3.95 ft above MHHW
Apalachicola 2.84 ft NOS tide gauge recorded 2.84 ft above MHHW
Georgia and South Carolina coastline 2 to 4 ft Fort Pulaski (GA) recorded 2.39 ft above MHHW; Charleston (SC) recorded 3.46 ft above MHHW
Edisto Beach, Charleston (SC) 2 to 3 ft High water marks surveyed
Coastal North Carolina 1 to 3 ft Wilmington recorded 2.05 ft above MHHW; Wrightsville Beach recorded 2.60 ft above MHHW
Outer Banks 2.58 to 2.83 ft Gauges at Hatteras and Duck recorded these levels
Neuse River, Bay River near New Bern, NC 2 to 4 ft New Bern gauge recorded 4.26 ft above MHHW; Cedar Island gauge recorded 3.77 ft above MHHW

Note: ft AGL (feet Above Ground Level), MHHW (Mean Higher High Water)

As Idalia's trajectory became clearer, coastal communities across the southeastern US braced for impact. Evacuation orders were issued, residents secured their homes, and emergency supplies were stocked up. National Hurricane Center advisories kept the public informed of the storm's path and intensity.

Idalia made landfall near Keaton Beach, Florida, on August 30th, unleashing its fury. Devastating storm surge, reaching up to 12 feet in some areas, inundated coastal towns. Powerful winds ripped through structures, causing widespread damage. Inland, torrential rains triggered flooding, further compounding the misery. Power outages plunged millions into darkness. The storm also spawned a rash of tornadoes, adding to the destruction.

As Idalia's trajectory became clearer, coastal communities across the southeastern US braced for impact. National Hurricane Center (NHC) advisories kept residents informed, with evacuation orders issued for areas most at risk. Residents boarded up windows, secured loose outdoor objects, and stocked up on emergency supplies.

Aftermath:

The aftermath of Idalia was a story of resilience and community spirit. In the wake of the storm's fury, thousands were left displaced, their homes destroyed or severely damaged. The estimated cost of damage in the U.S. alone reached a staggering $3.6 billion.



Federal and state agencies mobilized massive relief efforts, providing emergency food, shelter, and financial assistance to those affected. Search and rescue teams tirelessly combed through debris to locate survivors. The long road to recovery began, with a focus on rebuilding infrastructure, revitalizing communities, and providing mental health support to those traumatized by the experience.

Deaths:

Hurricane Idalia tragically claimed the lives of 12 individuals. Some were caught in the storm surge, others succumbed to falling debris or injuries sustained during the evacuation process. Each life lost represents a deep personal tragedy for families and communities.

Winds, Pressure, Rainfall, Tornadoes, and Storm Surge associated with Hurricane Idalia.

Category Details
Peak Intensity 115 kt (Category 4) at 0900 UTC 30 August
Wind Observations - 700-mb flight-level wind: 123 kt (111 kt surface adjustment)
- Peak reliable SFMR wind: 116 kt
- Minimum pressure: 942 mb
Landfall Intensity Estimated 100 kt
Florida Observations - Horseshoe Beach: Sustained wind 63 kt, gust 70 kt at 1026 UTC
- Perry: Wind gust 74 kt, minimum pressure 954.7 mb at 1217 UTC
- Official site in Perry: Minimum pressure 957.7 mb, sustained wind 54 kt
Georgia Observations - St. Simons: Wind gust 57 kt
- Tybee Sound: Wind gust 60 kt
Carolinas Observations - Cape Lookout, NC: Sustained wind 44 kt, gust 64 kt
Cuba Observations Estimated tropical-storm-force winds, strongest in Pinar Del Rio
Rainfall - Widespread 5-7 inches from Florida Big Bend to eastern North Carolina
- Pockets of 7-10 inches in southern Georgia, South Carolina, and southeastern North Carolina
- Holly Hill, SC: 13.55 inches
- Southwest and west-central Florida: 4-8 inches
Tornadoes 12 tornadoes in total:
- Florida: 1 EF-0
- Georgia: 3 EF-0, 1 EF-1
- South Carolina: 2 EF-0, 1 EF-1
- North Carolina: 2 EF-0, 2 EF-1
Damaging Tornadoes - Brunswick, GA: EF-1, downed trees, damaged buildings
- Wilmington, NC: EF-1, uprooted trees, minor injuries
Storm Surge - Maximum 8-12 ft above ground level from Keaton Beach to Steinhatchee, FL
- Minor inundation along southeast U.S. coast
- Observations from NOS tide gauges, USGS streamgages, NC Department of Public Safety gauges, and NWS high water marks

The aftermath of Idalia was a massive relief effort. Search and rescue teams fanned out across the affected areas, rescuing those stranded and assessing the damage. Power crews tirelessly worked to restore electricity. Federal and state governments mobilized resources to assist with recovery efforts. The long road to rebuilding homes and communities began.

Lessons Learned from Hurricane Idalia

The aftermath of Hurricane Idalia offered valuable insights for future hurricane preparedness.

Early Evacuation: A major factor in reducing casualties was the timely issuance of evacuation orders by local authorities. Residents who heeded these warnings and evacuated to safe areas significantly reduced their risk of injury or death.

Homes equipped with hurricane shutters sustained significantly less damage from windblown debris compared to those without.

Communication and Coordination: Effective communication between emergency management agencies, public officials, and the media ensured residents received critical information throughout the storm.

Power Outage Preparedness: The widespread power outages highlighted the importance of having a plan for alternative power sources, such as generators and battery-powered devices.

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Hurricane Idalia Emergency Resources

Federal Resources

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is actively involved in the Hurricane Idalia recovery efforts. how to access federal resources:

  • FEMA Disaster Declaration: FEMA tackles all declared disasters at home, natural or man-made. https://www.fema.gov/disaster/current

  • Registering with FEMA: Residents can register for FEMA assistance by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) Hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (your time zone), 7 days a week.
    Note: Hours may be extended during high disaster activity. or visiting https://www.disasterassistance.gov

  • Types of FEMA Assistance:
    Housing assistance: Grants for temporary housing and home repairs. https://www.fema.gov/assistance/individual/housing
    Other Needs Assistance: Grants for essential needs such as food, clothing, and medical care. https://www.fema.gov/assistance/individual

State and Local Resources:

  • State Emergency Management Offices: Each affected state has its own emergency management office which coordinates recovery efforts. Find contact information for your state's emergency management office here: https://nemaweb.org/

  • Local Shelters: The American Red Cross and other organizations have established shelters to provide food, water, and a safe place to stay. Call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit https://maps.redcross.org/website/maps/ARC_Shelters.html to find a shelter near you.

  • Debris Removal: Local governments are coordinating debris removal efforts. Contact your local municipality for information on when and how to dispose of storm debris.
    note:If a disaster strikes in California, you can visit the Department of Recycling (CalRecycle) website at https://calrecycle.ca.gov/disaster/ for information on debris removal and recovery. Similar websites exist for Debris Removal in other states.

  • The South Carolina Emergency Management Division leads the state's emergency preparedness and response efforts. https://www.scemd.org/

 Financial Assistance:

  • Small Business Administration (SBA): SBA offers low-interest disaster loans to businesses and homeowners to help them recover from the storm. Learn more and apply at https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance.

  • Individual Assistance Programs: Many non-profit organizations are providing financial assistance programs to help individuals and families affected by the storm. Contact your local 211 information and referral service or visit http://www.211.org/ for more information.

  • Insurance Claims: If you have homeowners or flood insurance, file a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible.

Utilities

  • Power Outages: Power companies are working diligently to restore power. Report outages and get estimated restoration times by contacting your local power company.

  • Water Safety: Boil water advisories may be in effect for some areas. Follow the instructions of local authorities regarding water safety.

Medical Care

  • Hospitals remain open and are treating patients. However, some medical facilities may be overwhelmed. For non-emergency medical care, consider urgent care centers or telehealth services.

  • Mental Health Support: The storm can be a stressful experience. For mental health support, call the National Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.

Volunteer Opportunities

Many organizations are seeking volunteers to help with the recovery efforts.

  • American Red Cross: Volunteer to staff shelters or distribute meals. (https://www.redcross.org/volunteer/become-a-volunteer.html)

  • Salvation Army: Volunteer to help with debris removal or serve meals. (https://disaster.salvationarmyusa.org/)

  • VolunteerMatch: Find volunteer opportunities near you at https://www.volunteermatch.org/

  • Citizen Corps Program 
    https://www.dhs.gov/publication/dhsfemapia-029-citizen-corps-program

By learning from the devastation caused by Hurricane Idalia, we can better prepare for future storms and ensure the safety of our communities.

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