The Florida town that challenged Hurricane Ian and won

The Florida town that challenged Hurricane Ian and won

16 December 2022 | Lisa Hall

As Hurricane Ian moved toward Florida’s west coast in late September, Amy Wicks drove around this rapidly growing community, trying to figure out what she hadn’t thought of yet. She checked for any debris that might be blocking water runoff paths; she took note of the restored wetlands; she hoped that no alligators had taken up residence in the drain pipes.

Eventually, she returned to her own home here, hunkered down with her husband and three children, and listened as freight train winds moved over Babcock Ranch, a 4-year-old planned community some 20 miles inland from Fort Myers. At that point, she says, she could only hope that the unique storm water system she had designed and monitored over the past decade would be up for the task.

“I had a theory that it would work,” says the civil engineer. “But it wasn’t like there was any case study.”

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