City leader describes damage caused by Hurricane Ian in Venice, Florida

The city of Venice, Florida is about an hour south of Tampa and took its share of damage from Hurricane Ian. Vice Mayor Nick Pachota joined Amna Nawaz to describe what happened in his city.

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  • Amna Nawaz:

    The city of Venice about an hour south of Tampa on Florida's west coast avoided a direct hit, but still took its share of damage.

    Nick Pachota is the vice mayor of Venice, and he joins me by phone now.

    Mr. Vice Mayor, thank you for joining us.

    Let's just start with what it looks like in your community right now. What do you see around you? What's the extent of the damage?

    Nick Pachota, Vice Mayor of Venice, Florida: Yes, thank you for having me.

    So, basically, we have a lot of mobile home parks that have — all have the same sort of damage. We have some single family dwelling damage, a lot of standing water in the roadways, trees down, power lines down. Currently, our city is pretty much without power and without cell phone service. Airport has sustained damage. So it's pretty widespread.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Have you been able to visit your own home to see the damage?

  • Nick Pachota:

    Yes, I have been able to make contact with all of my family members as of about an hour ago. And, fortunately, everyone is doing OK.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    We're very glad to hear that.

    And I should mention, when Hurricane Ian came through, it was a Category 4 storm. You were there. Can you just tell us what it was like when the storm came through?

  • Nick Pachota:

    Very similar to what you hear on the news and see in many of the different coverage over the years of hurricanes.

    We had very strong gusting winds. The walls were rattling. The windows were rattling. It was pretty intense, a lot of whistling, a lot of roaring sounds, and a lot of different debris hitting the building and stuff like that.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Have you been through a hurricane in Florida before?

  • Nick Pachota:

    I have been through Hurricane Charley back in 2004, which also hit this area. At that time, I experienced that when it hit Orlando, but I had deployed back to my hometown to see the devastation down in Punta Gorda.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    How would you compare what Ian has brought to your community?

  • Nick Pachota:

    Believe it or not, for our town, we actually fared much better than those to the south of us. And that was very similar to Charley. Venice was spared then. And I really do feel we dodged a bullet this time as well.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    You did mention the mobile home communities there. Do you know if most people in your community were able to evacuate or have you had to carry out any rescues?

  • Nick Pachota:

    We didn't have as many evacuations as we wanted. But we haven't had to do any rescues. We did have a mobile home structure fire this morning that pretty much engulfed about 10 mobile homes.

    Fortunately, those in those communities had evacuated, so we didn't have any fatalities. And so far, to my understanding, I think we have only had one injury reported from the storm.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Can I just ask you, Mr. Vice Mayor, what's it been like to walk around and to see your community this way? I know I have seen some pictures online of homes with their roofs blown off, a theater downtown that looks like it was just torn apart.

    What's it like for you to see that?

  • Nick Pachota:

    That's a very good point that you bring up, is, we're a historic community. We were kind of founded back in 1926.

    And our theater, it's the original from 1927. There's been some additions over time, but that entire stage is now gone. It's very devastating to see. But one thing I do love about our community is, we have great public servants. And we have a very resilient community full of volunteers.

    I know that will withstand this test and we will come back stronger.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    We wish you all the best in those days, weeks and months ahead.

    That is Vice Mayor of Venice, Florida, Nick Pachota joining us on the phone.

    Thank you. Good luck to you, sir.

  • Nick Pachota:

    Thank you.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Now let's get some more perspective on the scope of this storm, which has gathered strength and is classified as a hurricane once again.

    Jamie Rhome is the acting director of the National Hurricane Center and joins me now.

    Jamie, welcome back to the "NewsHour."

    Let's just start with what you can tell us at this hour about the storm's strength and its path right now.

  • Jamie Rhome, National Hurricane Center:

    Yes, Ian has moved off the coast of Florida back over the waters of the — or over the waters of the Western Atlantic, I should say.

    And it's regained maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour, regained hurricane status. And this is why we have hurricane warnings along coastal — almost the entire coastal section of South Carolina and portions of North Carolina.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    And what does that mean for the folks in the storm's path ahead? As we mentioned, it's heading to South Carolina. What does a storm like this mean for those folks?

  • Jamie Rhome:

    It means that hurricane conditions are possible.

    And let's go to this next graphic, which shows that those winds can push inland. A lot of people forget that these winds can push inland. The blue area here's a tropical storm warning, which means tropical storm conditions are expected. Look how far inland, Raleigh and Columbia, South Carolina. So I really want people that are inland not to lower their guard with this one.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Jamie Rhome, acting director of the National Hurricane Center, with the latest on Hurricane Ian.

    Jamie, thank you so much.

  • Jamie Rhome:

    Thank you.

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