Babcock Ranch in Florida was designed to withstand a hurricane. The town’s first challenge came in the form of Hurricane Ian. The community somehow weathered the storm, emerging almost undamaged.
Florida’s Babcock Ranch
Hurricane Ian made landfall on the southwest Florida coast with winds of up to 150mph (241km/h), 17 inches (43cm) of rain in 24 hours, and storm surges of up to 18ft (5.5m).
Most Expensive Hurricane
It was the most expensive hurricane in Florida history, causing more than $112 billion (£88 billion) in damage and killing at least 150 people.
The category four storm that hit Florida on September 28, 2022, knocked out electricity to almost four million people and caused devastating flooding.
In the midst of the devastation, one neighbourhood fared remarkably well: Babcock Ranch, an 18,000-acre (73 sq km) development in the eye of the hurricane in southwest Florida, just north of Fort Myers.
The town, which was designed to resist heavy storms, escaped virtually undamaged.
And, despite not being directly in the path of Hurricane Idalia when it raced across the southeastern United States at the end of August, the community may have another opportunity to demonstrate its resiliency this year.
The hurricane season in 2023 is projected to be significantly more severe than the one in 2022.
Atmospheric scientists at NOAA
Atmospheric scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the United States have projected a “above normal” season, with up to five major storms bringing winds of 111mph or higher.
Because of its flat geography, Florida is more likely to flood than any other state in the United States.
Despite this, only 18% of Florida homes have flood insurance, and some residents report that the cost of their insurance would exceed their rent.
According to a recent report, the cost of insurance is expected to rise by 40% by 2023.
Exacerbating the problem is the previous century’s enormous population expansion and associated building development, much of it on wetlands that would ordinarily help avoid flooding.
Next 50 years, Florida’s population
Over the next 50 years, Florida’s population is predicted to grow by another 12 million people, with the proportion of land developed increasing from 18% to 28% – a 3.5 million-acre (14,000-square-kilometer) rise.
Building climate-resilient communities is especially crucial in Florida, which has a six-month hurricane season. And that’s exactly what Babcock Ranch developer Syd Kitson wanted for.
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