National

Photos: Striking before and after photographs over Hurricane Ian’s path

Few places experienced Hurricane Ian’s destructive power like Fort Myers Beach, Fla., and the surrounding area.

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The tourist hot spot on the Gulf Coast sustained catastrophic damage after Ian made landfall as a Category 4 storm last week, unleashing 150 mph winds and a historic storm surge.

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The following aerial photographs, provided by the location intelligence company Nearmap, offer a view of what areas looked like before and immediately after Hurricane Ian.

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Fort Myers.

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Fort Myers.

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The photographs capture just a small portion of the overall damage, the full extent of which will take months to document.

But they showcase what some of the hardest-hit communities in its path have lost — and how much they have to rebuild.

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Fort Myers.

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Entire blocks were wiped out, homes flattened to their foundations, businesses inundated. Even structures that withstood the storm were flooded up to their second floors and stripped of their roofs.

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Fort Myers.

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Fort Myers.

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Fort Myers.

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Rising waters destroyed sections of causeway and dumped sand across residential streets, rendering some impassable.

Boats and cars drifted away in the current. Yards and beaches were littered with sheet metal, wood beams and other debris.

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Sanibel Island.

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Sanibel Island.

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Part of what made Ian so devastating was its size and relatively slow movement.

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In 2004, Hurricane Charley landed as a Category 4 storm in almost the exact same spot, with similar maximum wind speeds. But the damage was less extensive.

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Ian was much larger and lingered much longer, dropping more rain and producing a bigger storm surge.

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Fort Myers Beach.

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“With Ian, you have a much larger impact area,” said Susan Cutter, an expert on hurricane recovery from the University of South Carolina.

“If a storm that size is sitting over you for hours at a time, there’s not much that’s going to be able to stand up to it.”

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Fort Myers.

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“We’re just beginning to see the scale of that destruction,” President Biden said last week. “It’s likely to rank among the worst in the nation’s history.”

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Credits

Editing and production by Kainaz Amaria. Photo editing by Stephen Cook.