As Hurricane Ian devastated Florida’s west coast, rescuers hunted for survivors and restored power to thousands.
Florida’s death toll is 21, with more predicted. Southwest Florida has 10,000 missing individuals. In TikTok videos and Facebook posts, anxious families pleaded for help, and strangers answered, even as local officials advised them to follow official channels.
State disaster management director Kevin Guthrie recounted a horrible picture in Lee County where Ian hit the coast on Thursday with 150 mph gusts and a 10-foot storm surge.
“We had a Coast Guard rescue swimmer swim down into the ocean and identify human remains,” he said. “We’re transparent, but we don’t know that figure.”
Rescue personnel steered boats and waded across flooded streets to save thousands of people.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said employees went door-to-door in more than 3,000 residences.
“Herculean endeavor,” he stated.
President Biden stated Ian “may be the deadliest hurricane in Florida history”
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One man perished in his home in Volusia County, while another drowned in a canal, according to the sheriff’s office.
The two elderly citizens who died in Sarasota relied on oxygen equipment that lost electricity during the storm.
In North Fort Myers, a man who needed oxygen was saved after neighbors connected his machine to a generator, the New York Times reported.
Biden ordered, “all feasible measures” to save lives and aid survivors. We realize what you’re going through and are with you, Florida.
Telecom providers are allowing rival networks’ consumers to roam on their cell towers, DeSantis claimed.
More than 20,000 people were in shelters Friday.
Rising water from the Myakka River forced the Florida Department of Transportation to block Interstate 75 in both directions from North Port to Englewood on Friday night. Officials advise motorists to avoid I-75 to southwest Florida.
Ian flooded Florida from west to east, ripped homes from their slabs, and destroyed beachside businesses, leaving 2.5 million without power. Thousands of utility personnel are scrambling to restore power.
In Lee, Charlotte, Collier, and Sarasota, more than half of homes and businesses lacked power, DeSantis said Friday night.
“The hardest-hit areas will be the hardest to restore power,” he warned. “That’s more than attaching a powerline to a pole.”
Thirteen Florida counties have been authorized for federal aid, and more are expected, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said Friday.
Disaster modeling firm Karen Clark & Company says Ian caused “far over $100 billion” in damage, including $63 billion in privately insured claims. Those estimates would make Ian the fourth-costliest storm in U.S. history.
Completely destroyed businesses near Fort Myers Beach left twisted rubble. Broken docks bobbed near damaged boats. Once-inhabited lots burned.
William Goodison stated of his 11-year mobile home park, “I don’t know how anyone could have lasted in there.” Goodison spent the storm at his son’s inland home.
The hurricane destroyed roughly 60 residences in Goodison’s park, including his. Goodison and his son waded through waist-deep water to retrieve an air conditioner, tools, and a baseball bat.
Broken trees, boat trailers, and other debris covered the road into Fort Myers Beach. Storm surge swamped cars’ engines, causing them to stall.
Chief Ray Jadallah of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue said firefighters rescued dozens of people from barrier islands near Fort Myers on Thursday.
“You see a house on Fort Myers beach that’s nothing but a concrete slab,” DeSantis remarked Friday. “You pray no one was in there.”
The governor pledged to rebuild Pine Island’s bridge on Friday. Sanibel’s bridge was also demolished.
DeSantis said a major break left Lee County without water. 1.2 million gallons of water are being transported from Lakeland to Fort Myers to supply hospitals without drinkable water.
Without drinkable water, Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida evacuated premature and unwell newborns. Friday, air ambulances and ground vehicles brought the babies to Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood.
National Hurricane Center: Ian made landfall south of Punta Gorda at 4:35 p.m. Wednesday with 145 mph winds. The storm hit Cayo Costa near Fort Myers.
Friday afternoon, Ian made another Category 1 landfall in South Carolina. The post-tropical cyclone had peak winds of 50 mph that reduced to 15 mph and tropical storm-force winds that could be felt up to 195 miles from the centre as of 11 p.m. it was about 60 miles south-southeast of Greensboro, North Carolina, and heading north at 15 mph.
Post-tropical cyclone will move onshore Saturday over North Carolina and Virginia. By Sunday, it should be gone.
The storm flooded downtown Charleston’s peninsula. It damaged four piers, including two in Myrtle Beach.
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Will Shalosky investigated a fallen elm tree in front of his Charleston, S.C., home after the worst rain. Damage could have been worse, he said.
Shalosky: “If this tree fell differently, it would be in our house.” “It’s shocking, alarming.”
Friday, Central Florida dug out after heavy rain and flooding from Ian. Rivers flooded roads. Shingle Creek near Kissimmee reached record-high levels.
In Kissimmee and New Smyrna Beach, locals and media tweeted images of flooded streets and automobiles keeling over in puddles.
Ian caused at least two tornadoes in Broward County and one in Palm Beach County on Tuesday night, the NWS reported. A tornado in Kings Point, near Delray Beach, damaged apartments and displaced 35 people.
Ian and a nearby frontal system caused swells Friday night that could bring life-threatening surf and rip currents in Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, and the northwestern Bahamas.
A tropical wave off the African coast has a 70% chance of growing in the next five days, becoming a tropical depression early next week when it moves over the eastern tropical Atlantic. Next would be Julia.
The Hurricane season finishes on Nov. 30.
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