Former Owls Brave Their First Hurricane As Hurricane Ian Reaches Florida


Photo taken by Kayleigh Thompson’s mother as the hurricane moved through their neighborhood.

Addison Smith, Corinne Zieg, and Stella Brown

Hurricane Ian, the infamous hurricane many have tracked since it hit Cuba and began a path to Florida, made landfall on Sept. 28 on the west coast of Florida.

The storm was watched closely by many in preparation as it barreled toward Fort Meyers as a category four. During a FEMA briefing, President Biden spoke about the impending hurricane, saying it could be the “deadliest hurricane in Florida’s history.”

After crossing into Florida and leaving areas among the West Coast destroyed, Hurricane Ian continued its path of destruction towards the Carolinas.

As of Tuesday, the death toll in Florida has reached 102, not including the four deaths in North Carolina.

Two previous Olathe West students, Brianne Gaut and Kaylee Thompson endured their first hurricane in their homes as it passed through Florida.

Brianne Gaut is a fFreshman in college and attends Palm Beach Atlantic University. 

“My personal experience with the hurricane was probably quite different than the people where it hit the hardest,” Gaut said. “We had lots of heavy rain and high winds which caused us to cancel classes both Wednesday and Thursday.”

While Palm Beach didn’t experience the direct hit of hurricane Ian, they were told to take precautions. 

“We were encouraged to stay in our dorms,” Gaut said. “The hurricane did cause some tornadoes to arise and there were multiple tornado warnings that went off through the day and night.”

Kaylee Thompson moved to St. Augustine, Florida this summer after completing her sophomore year at West. St. Augustine was in the path of Ian, and it hit as a tropical depression.

“I really wasn’t scared,” Thompson said. “People told me it wouldn’t be bad.”

Thompson’s family used sandbags and generators to prepare, also stocking on food and water.

“We got rain and high winds,” Thompson said. “Downtown got flooded.”

St. Augustine didn’t get as much damage as some of the other unfortunate areas, but like Palm Beach, it still had wind and rain in addition to flooding. The destruction was costly in Florida, but Ian has weakened as it moved toward the Carolinas.