This Solar-Powered Town Weathered Hurricane Ian Without Losing Electricity
Hurricane Ian devastated areas of Florida and left millions without power. Babcock Ranch, an eco-conscious community, was spared.
A benefit of environmentally-minded living? It might just save you from some of the forthcoming fallout of more extreme weather—which seems to be the new normal.
Throughout late September and early October, Hurricane Ian—a Category 4 storm—wreaked havoc on the likes of Cuba, South Carolina, and Florida. Experts say that the warming of the atmosphere and the oceans due to human-produced greenhouse gases fueled the storm (hello, climate change), which resulted in at least 119 deaths, billions of dollars in damage, and loss of homes and jobs.
But residents of Babcock Ranch, a planned eco-community in southwest Florida, were spared the worst of the weather—in fact, the residents never even lost power.
Hurricane Ian and Babcock Ranch
Babcock Ranch (or "The Hometown of Tomorrow," as its site declares) spans around 18,000 acres in southeastern Charlotte County and northeastern Lee County, Florida. The town's initiatives center on sustainability, with solar power, green spaces, water conservation, native landscapes, and more making for a low-impact living space.
And it works. As Hurricane Ian made its way through the area, residents prepared for the worst—but it never came. Those living in Babcock never lost electricity, internet, or water.
"So as soon as the sun came up the next morning, I jumped in my car and I started driving out. And the only damage were a few down trees and a few shingles off the roofs," community founder Syd Kitson told 60 Minutes. "That's it. And so our recovery was maybe a day."
Kitson adds that Babcock is the first solar-powered town in the U.S, housing a 150-megawatt solar field, along with buried utility lines. That said infrastructure held up in the face of Ian's 150 mph winds is beyond impressive—and may offer a roadmap for weathering the weather that's to come.
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