On the ground with local journalists reporting on Hurricane Ian

‘Part of your job, even as a journalist, is becoming something of a first responder.’


As Hurricane Ian approached southwest Florida on Tuesday, officials began issuing evacuation orders.

Kate Cimini, a Florida investigative reporter for the USA Today Network, evacuated her home, but instead of clearing out of the hurricane’s path, she aimed for her colleague’s place in Naples.

“I volunteered to report,” Cimini said. “It’s my job, it’s what I like doing, it’s a good use of my time. And people want to know what’s going on.”

As people fled, local reporters stayed behind to document the storm, which made landfall near Cayo Costa, a small Gulf coast beach town, as a Category 4 hurricane. Nearby outlets, like the Tampa Bay Times and the Palm Beach Post, sent their journalists toward the hurricane’s eye. Those reporters helped show the world some of the first images of the destruction.

Cimini and her colleague, Naples Daily News arts and entertainment columnist Harriet Heithaus, drove around Naples Wednesday morning before the storm made landfall. They found residents on the beach and at the city pier. But when they went back out that afternoon, everything had flooded and the roads were filled with debris. They couldn’t make it more than a mile out. The walkway of the pier where people had gathered had been completely destroyed.

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