As hard-hit Fort Myers, Florida, continues its recovery from Hurricane Ian, some hope can be found 12 miles northeast of the planned community of Babcock Ranch. There Syd Kitson and his colleagues built an environmentally friendly, fully sustainable city that they hoped would be hurricane proof. Kitson, an eco-conscious developer and former pro football player, rode out the storm at Babcock Ranch. Incredibly, none of the 5,000 people there lost power during the storm.

“We’re in the bullseye,” Kitson told reporter Bill Whitaker for 60 Minutes this week. “And I remember sitting here. I had the weather. And the weather guy said, ‘Well, this Category 4 storm is headed for Babcock Ranch now.'”

“And not only does it go to Babcock Ranch, but it’s on the east side of the wall, which is the worst place,” Kitson said.

“How long did the storm sit with you?” asked Whitaker.

“About eight to ten hours,” Kitson said.

At the height of the storm, there are white caps on the lake in a video that Kitson shot on his iPhone.

“So when the sun rose the next morning, I jumped in my car and I started driving. And the only damage was some trees and some shingles from the roofs,” said Kitson. “That’s it. And that’s why our recovery is probably one day.”

Babcock Ranch was designed to accommodate Florida’s climate and ecosystem with native plants and natural waterways for drainage; it is built 25 to 30 feet above sea level to help reduce flooding from storm surges. Have a sustainable water and sewage system; all electricity and telephone lines were buried.

“We’re the first solar-powered city in America,” Kitson told 60 Minutes. “We have a solar field of 150 megawatts.”

That solar field has a massive solar array of 700,000 panels, built by Florida Power and Light. Those panels withstood Ian’s brutal beating.

“There was a lot of water, but you didn’t see a panel come off. “It was gusting over 150, and it didn’t take a single panel out of here, which is amazing.”

“Aren’t you lucky you’re at a higher level than most parts of Florida that get washed away?” asked Whitaker.

“That’s important, but not when it comes to wind and– and flooding and rain. And so if that infrastructure isn’t built properly, you’re going to have flooded homes,” Kitson said. “You can do wind damage. Especially, you have 150– 160 mile per hour winds.

Kitson said that while about 5,000 people live in Babcock Ranch now, they have aspirations to grow to 50,000 residents.

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