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After Ian, Castor says Tampa fared 'comparatively' well and helping SW Florida is a priority

Toppled trees block a road in Sarasota, part of the damage left a day earlier by Hurricane Ian on Sept. 29, 2022.
Maria Gigliotti
WUSF Public Media
Toppled trees block a road in Sarasota, part of the damage left a day earlier by Hurricane Ian on Sept. 29, 2022.

Noting that “you can’t count on predictions,” Tampa Mayor Jane Castor on Thursday reported that the city fared well during Hurricane Ian but her primary concern was the counties hit hardest by the storm.

“Well, if you look at it comparatively, we came through very, very well,” Castor said.

The mayor said there have been no reports of large-scale flooding in Tampa but that several thousand people remained without power throughout the region. Tampa Electric has been prepared with 3,000 additional line personnel to assist in restoring service, she added.

Castor reported a number of trees uprooted and streetlights that are out. but the city was in the process of assessment and repairs.

BLOG: Latest updates on Hurriane Ian

President Joe Biden, who spoke with Castor on Tuesday, has approved a federal disaster declaration for Florida in the wake of the hurricane.

The action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in Hillsborough County, as well as Charlotte, Collier, Desoto, Hardee, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota counties.

Castor expected no problems in receiving any needed federal resources in Tampa.

“But right now, the focus is on sending a whole resources down to our neighbors in the south; you know, they've literally been devastated,” Castor said.

The Tampa Bay region had been in the bull’s-eye of forecasts, but Ian steered to the east before landfall Wednesday into the Fort Myers, Naples and Sarasota areas. The result was deadly and catastrophic winds and storm surge throughout Southwest Florida.

“We're sending our resources on the local level. I know from the county, Hillsborough County, and the city of Tampa, down south to see how we can help our neighbors just to begin to recover.”

Castor said those resources were coordinated at the local level and staged before the hurricane arrived.

“As we have been through these types of storm related events in the past, we have a very, very robust state system of organizing resources and sending them down for specific assignments,” she said. “So our coordination goes through the county. And then that goes through the state emergency response services.”

Castor also noted that Port Tampa Bay has reopened, “so we'll be able to send the needed fuel down south. So we have all of those resources available on a statewide level.”

WUSF reporter Susan Giles Wantuck contributed to this report.

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