New Florida Community Survived Hurricane Virtually Unscathed After Being Designed for Resilience

Even as two million Floridians lost power during the recent Hurricane Ian, one unique community survived intact.

Despite being located around 20 miles from Fort Myers, the heart of the devastation, Babcock Ranch’s blend of solar power, native flora, and built-to-code construction has meant that apart from ripped up pool coverings, broken fence posts, and a missing shingle or two, they never even lost power.

Roughly 4,600 residents live in Babcock Ranch, billed as a storm-resilient and 100% solar-powered town.

“They were told that Babcock Ranch was built to stand up to storms—but you never really know for sure until you see how everything performs when a storm comes,” Lisa Hall, a community representative, told CBS news. “Ian put it to an extreme test.”

Built around 25-feet higher on average than surrounding communities, Babcock Ranch is beyond the reach of storm waters, and with buildings specified for Cat 4 hurricane winds of 145 mph, Babcock passed the test and how.

Built in 2018 specifically for climate resiliency, the town has its own wastewater plant and water system that penetrates deep into an underground aquifer. Drinking water wasn’t contaminated and never shut off.

700,000 solar panels owned by Florida Power & Light provide every home with electricity, and despite covering an area of 900 acres, they remarkably sustained minimal damage. Neither power nor internet ever went out.

The solar panels provided power to a storm shelter that wasn’t even expected to be used because of the late-delivery of a diesel generator. At the last minute the shelter was opened, and remained the only one in the area that still had power.

Unsurprisingly, the town expects its population to grow to 50,000, with 6 million square feet of commercial space.

Residents have organized several donation drives to help out communities less-fortunate that them.

“It [is] a constant outpouring of support from Babcock Ranch residents who know how incredibly fortunate they are to have homes and community still intact,” Hall said.