ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – While the full force of Hurricane Ian’s ferocious winds were felt on the southwest coast of Florida, the storm had far-reaching impacts on the opposite coast.
Ian made landfall Wednesday afternoon on Cayo Costa island and again near Punta Gorda as a monstrous Category 4 hurricane with winds of about 150 mph. In addition to shredding buildings across the region, the terrible winds pushed ashore feet of water from the Gulf of Mexico that inundated whole towns and left them in shambles.
On the other side of the state, in St. Augustine, those winds pushed ashore up to 3 feet of water from the Atlantic Ocean at high tide as Ian moved diagonally across Florida.
"We knew it was coming," said Brad Melvin, a resident of America’s Oldest City.
Melvin said he thought he had done everything right.
"We boarded up," he said Friday during an interview with FOX Weather multimedia journalist Katie Byrne. "We sealed up. We bagged up. We did it all."
Melvin said the water began flooding his neighborhood by late Thursday morning. By 1 p.m., it was in his home.
"It just was relentless, and it just kept coming," Melvin said.
He said it wasn’t long before all the preparations he had made became useless. He said it only took 2 hours for 2 feet of water to inundate his house.
Melvin spent Friday on the phone with his insurance company and determining what could be salvaged. He said mold is a real concern.
"This is the type of water that you don’t want on anything," he said. "This isn’t even clean ocean water. This is sewage water and everything else mixed in it, and it’s in your home."
Melvin said he understands the desire of some to leave, but if there’s a silver lining to any of this, it’s that he’s experienced the generosity of his neighbors first-hand.
"I haven’t called one person to come over here, and I had 25 people here this morning," he said. "That’s pretty awesome."
Melvin said that despite the voluntary evacuations for his neighborhood ahead of Ian, he felt comfortable staying because it didn’t appear that Ian would be in a windstorm. He eventually fled after realizing how dangerous the water really was. Now, he wants to hear from city leaders about how they plan to mitigate future flooding.