Ten years ago “Ivan the Terrible,” as the deadly hurricane was dubbed, ripped across the Gulf Coast as the strongest storm of the 2004 season. Ten years later, Hurricane Ivan serves as a reminder that the time to prepare for the next hurricane is now.

Ivan is remembered for its storm surge, extensive rains, and 117 tornadoes that caused coastal and inland flooding and tornado damage across much of the southeastern United States. Strong winds spread well inland—damaging homes, and downing trees and power lines. Ten states from Louisiana to New York received federal disaster declarations, including five in the southeast.

Ivan made its first U.S. landfall on September 16, as a strong Category 3 hurricane, just west of Gulf Shores, Alabama, with its strongest winds occurring near the Alabama-Florida panhandle border. Wind and high surf caused extensive damage to Innerarity Point and Orange Beach, Alabama. In Florida, storm surge took out portions of the Interstate 10 bridge system in Pensacola Bay, and Perdido Key was significantly damaged. Thousands of homes in Baldwin County (Alabama) and Escambia, and Santa Rosa Counties in Florida were damaged or destroyed. In Escambia County, alone debris piles were more than three-quarters of a mile long and 70 feet high. In all, Ivan was the most destructive hurricane to affect this area in more than 100 years.

“Hurricane Ivan serves as a reminder, especially during National Preparedness Month, that we all need to be ready for disasters and emergencies,” said FEMA Region IV Acting Regional Administrator Andrew Velasquez III. “September is also the height of hurricane season, so preparing now is even more critical for families and businesses in the Southeast.”

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