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How much damage has Hurricane Idalia caused? How to donate to impacted Floridians

Lianna Norman

Hurricane Idalia rammed into Florida’s Gulf Coast on Wednesday, leaving cities from Tampa to Tallahassee flooded and damaged from its sustained wind speeds that were up to 125 mph at the time it hit Florida.

The Category 3 hurricane – the biggest storm to directly hit Florida’s Big Bend region in more than 100 years –  left hundreds of thousands of Floridians without power, mostly in Madison, Taylor, Suwannee, Dixie and Jefferson counties.

Here’s a breakdown of the damage Idalia caused and how you can help the victims. 

Where in Florida did Hurricane Idalia make landfall?

Hurricane Idalia made landfall just before 8 a.m. on Wednesday morning near Keaton Beach, a Gulf Coast town about 75 miles south of Tallahassee.

Did anyone die due to Hurricane Idalia?

A day after Idalia passed through, one death was attributed to the storm by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Medical Examiners Commission in Alachua County. Details had not been released. 

But two people were killed in two different weather-related car accidents a few hours before the storm made landfall, according to reports from the Florida Highway Patrol.

Hurricane Idalia aftermath:Gov. DeSantis and FEMA to tour hurricane-stricken Taylor and Levy counties

How much damage has Hurricane Idalia caused?

From Tampa to Tallahassee, most coastal towns saw four to seven feet of storm surge. Fort Myers sustained minimal storm surge from Hurricane Idalia, especially in comparison to the over 13 feet of storm surge it saw from Hurricane Ian last year.

The town of Perry, Florida – with only 7,000 residents just 22 miles north of Keaton Beach – was among the hardest hit by Idalia’s dangerous wind speeds. There, Idalia’s winds destroyed much of a mobile home park, tore the roof off of a gas station and knocked down many trees.

On Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said up to 565,000 utility customers had lost electricity at some point during and/or after the storm passed. 

According to the USA TODAY power outage tracking database, there were 147,293 outages continuing into Thursday morning.

Here are the counties with the most outages as of Thursday morning, according to USA TODAY’s database:

  • Madison County, 100% of the county is without power
  • Taylor County, 99.6% of the county is without power
  • Suwannee County, 96.9% of the county is without power
  • Dixie County, 88.5% of the county is without power
  • Jefferson County, 88.3% of the county is without power
  • Lafayette County, 82.2% of the county is without power
  • Hamilton County, 71.7% of the county is without power
  • Columbia County, 55.5% of the county is without power

On Tuesday, UBS bank estimated that the storm would cost insurers around $9.4 billion in losses in the state of Florida, with a slim chance that the cost could get as high as $25 billion.

Hurricane Ian was the most expensive storm to hit Florida so far, costing insurers over $60 billion in losses.

Hurricane Idalia damage:Here’s how to help those affected in Florida

What do hurricane victims need most? Where can I donate to help Idalia victims?

Those who have survived a major storm and are left with damages to their homes and no power are most in need of basic supplies like food, water, medical care and medications, cleaning supplies, hygiene supplies, infant care supplies and pet care supplies.

The easiest and most direct way to ensure victims of Hurricane Idalia have access to these necessities is by donating to relief efforts on the ground in the affected areas, like the Red Cross or the Florida Disaster Fund.

Here’s how to donate to help victims of Hurricane Idalia

  • Red Cross: Before the storm, the Red Cross mobilized disaster responders, specialty response vehicles and truckloads full of supplies and meals. If you’d like to donate through the Red Cross, you can visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (800-733-2767) or text the word IDALIA to 90999 to make a $10 donation. People can also write “Hurricane Idalia” in the memo line of a check and mail it with a completed donation form to the address on the form or their local Red Cross chapter
  • Florida Disaster Fund: The Florida Disaster Fund, part of the nonprofit Volunteer Florida Foundation, was activated to support those impacted by Hurricane Idalia. You can donate to the fund, which distributes disaster recovery funding to service organizations, by sending a check in the mail or making a donation here.
  • GlobalGiving relief fund: GlobalGiving, which has earned the highest rating from Charity Navigator, has launched a fundraiser to assist longer-term local recovery efforts in the areas impacted by Hurricane Idalia. You can donate to GlobalGiving’s relief fund here.
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