"When Hurricane Ian roared ashore the Southwest Florida coast last week, it hit one of the fastest growing areas in the nation that's been fueled by sunshine and paved with lax growth management rules.
Since 2010, NPR found, the area's population has rapidly swelled despite the increasing risk from powerful storms like Ian, which devastated some of those growing communities and narrowly missed others.
Now, in the wake of the Category 4 hurricane, state and local leaders have promised to rebuild. Stronger building codes like the kind created after 1992's Hurricane Andrew will make the area more resilient to future storms, they say. But climate and planning experts warn that rebuilding along the crowded coast, following a decade of weakened rules governing development, is what helped create the disaster now unfolding.
Specifically, they point to Florida's decision in 2011 to abolish the state agency that managed risky development even as threats from climate change deepened."
Jenny Staletovich and Nick Underwood report for NPR October 8, 2022.