St. Pete’s Innovation District makes huge impact in Hurricane Ian relief

St. Pete’s Innovation District makes huge impact in Hurricane Ian relief

Aerial view of the Innovation District
Photo courtesy St. Petersburg Innovation District

As the state of Florida recovers from the damage caused by Hurricane Ian, St. Pete has become a hotbed of support and disaster relief. While the city was initially projected to take on the brunt of the storm, the late turn meant that St. Pete avoided the worst, and locals have been quick to turn their good fortune into an opportunity to support those affected.

St. Pete’s Innovation District, in particular, has come through for the state, even before Hurricane Ian arrived. Businesses and entities housed within the Innovation District have been vital in preparation and recovery efforts, as highlighted by the district in a newsletter this week.

Before the storm even arrived, Saildrone and its headquarters in St. Pete partnered with NOAA to collect data on the surface of the ocean as Ian approached, helping assess the storm’s strength and possible path. Meanwhile, NOAA’s airborne drones were flying through the eye of the storm measuring pressure, wind speed, and other key variables.

Two of St. Pete’s medical facilities within the Innovation District, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and Bayfront Health St. Pete were pivotal in helping to evacuate hospitalized patients. Both hospitals announced as soon as last Friday that they had already begun transferring patients from affected areas, airlifting hurt and ailing children and adults from Fort Myers to St. Pete so they could receive their needed care.

Meanwhile, as reported in detail by St. Pete Catalyst, US Coast Guard Sector St. Pete and Air Station Clearwater were saving lives throughout the end of last week. Even before the storm had passed, search and rescue missions were underway, saving Florida citizens all along the southwestern coast.

Locals help their neighbors in need

Then, in the immediate aftermath, USF St. Pete opened its student center to the community, offering a respite for those without power and a place to charge devices. The school even shared instructions on how to access free internet, while also waving all parking fees on campus.

Of course, the stories coming from the Innovation District are indicative of how the entire city and region has responded to the devastation caused by Hurricane Ian. Just up the road, a non-profit is using Albert Whitted Airport as a base to deliver supplies to affected areas.

In difficult times, communities show their true character. St. Pete’s response over the last week has been an indicator of exactly what it means to be a part of the Sunshine City.

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