In times of tragedy, people often rely on community to help rebuild, repair and restore. On September 28, 2022, Hurricane Ian strengthened to a Category 4 storm as it made landfall west of Fort Myers in Lee County, FL. Hurricane Ian is the second-deadliest storm to strike the continental U.S. this century, behind Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The storm impact varied through its path and caused extensive both coastal and inland flooding and wind damage from Key West, FL to the Greater Orlando, FL area. The intensity of the flooding exceeded National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) projections and exceeded the projected FEMA 500-year flood maps in many areas. NOAA’s storm estimates put Ian’s damage at more than $50 billion, and damage estimates from some private insurers to exceed $100 billion.
Community is crucial in times of trouble and Pennoni staff was there to use expertise to help where necessary. In preparation for the storm, Pennoni staff members located throughout Southern Florida in our Clearwater, Cape Coral and Delray Beach offices, formed emergency response teams which were at the ready to perform post-storm structural and environmental assessments.
Following this devastating event, Pennoni worked with and in impacted areas to provide emergency assessments throughout the hardest hit areas such as Fort Myers Beach and the coastal Island of Sanibel (where storm surge exceeded eight feet in many locations.)
Staff throughout the Pennoni Florida offices were ready to help when the call came. Cathy Olson, CWB, project environmental scientist in Pennoni’s Clearwater, FL office, completed a gopher tortoise survey for the Village of Estero in Lee County. With unprecedented amounts of debris blocking roadways and other pathways, the village needed a place to store the debris. Cathy ensured that the debris was not further disrupting the habitats and ecosystems of the endangered gopher tortoise.
Greg Rogalski, PE, LEED AP, associate vice president in Pennoni’s Mechanicsburg, PA office serves the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as the Pennsylvania Task Force One (PA-TF1) Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) team’s lead engineering specialist. On September 28, 2022, he was activated and spent over two weeks leading search and rescue efforts with FEMA in Florida and South Carolina as well as clean up initiatives.
Chakri Gondi, PE, project engineer in Pennoni’s Clearwater, FL office, Bob Selinsky, PE, SI, senior engineer in Pennoni’s Delray, FL office, conducted structural building assessments. Cathy Olson, along with environmental scientists, Justin Hojnacki and Daavia Nesbitt in Pennoni's Cape Coral, FL office, conducted moisture mapping in assisted living facilities. In Florida, the humidity and moisture allow mold to grow rapidly. The Pennoni team ensured the living conditions and safety from health hazards of the seniors living in the facility.
These are just a few of the services provided by Pennoni in Florida in the aftermath of Ian. Additional structural assessment, debris removal, forensic engineering and more were provided to assist Lee County and the rest of Florida get back on their feet. Pennoni is proud to help the community and will continue show up in times of need.