May 23, 2024

Hurricane Ian Brings Wind, Rain and TikTok Followers

Despite living in an evacuation zone, Alecsander Haake did not leave his home in the St. Petersburg area in advance of Hurricane Ian. “My mom had work the day before they announced the evacuation — it was a bit too late,” Mr. Haake, 16, said by phone. “There’s a lot of traffic on I-4, so we just hunkered down.”

On Tuesday, Mr. Haake, who is a high school student, posted a TikTok video of a computer screen showing Ian’s predicted path across Florida. “Yo, yo, I live right there, on my mouse,” Mr. Haake says in the video, moving his cursor over the western coast of the state. “Give me a thousand followers, I’ll go live during the hurricane, bro.” If this goal was met, Mr. Haake claimed, he would run outside in the nude during the hurricane.

He got what he asked for — and then some. When he posted that video on Tuesday, Mr. Haake estimated he had about 150 followers. (On the app, a user must have at least 1,000 to use the livestreaming feature.) By Thursday, he had amassed a little over 25,000. “Obviously I wasn’t going to do that,” Mr. Haake said, referring to going outside naked. “I was not going to do that. That was a joke.”

He did ultimately go live on TikTok, fully clothed, just as Ian touched down around him. “It was just breaking in,” he said. “There was a bunch of wind coming through, and rain. I was just standing outside by my garage.” He streamed on TikTok Live for nearly four hours. He said that at one point, as many as 20,000 people had been watching him. Viewers could see the trees in Mr. Haake’s neighborhood blowing dramatically sideways. “Everyone like this, so it gets tons of viewers,” Mr. Haake said during the broadcast. “Can you guys hear when the wind swirls like that? The whistling? That’s kind of scary.”

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