Charleston shuts down before storm surge after Ian battered Florida
Charleston braces for DIRECT HIT as Hurricane Ian swirls back in from Atlantic to pound historic city TOMORROW morning: Thousands board up their homes and flee ahead of 7ft storm surge after 13 Floridians confirmed dead
- Hurricane Ian intensified into a Category 1 hurricane again as of 5pm as it angles north toward South Carolina
- Ian is located about 240 miles south of Charleston and is moving toward the north-northeast at about 10 mph
- Helpless Floridians desperately called relatives and police, pleading to be rescued from their flooded homes
- Authorities have warned that fatalities will be ‘in the hundreds’ as the monster storm continues to rage
- Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida as Category 4 storm on Wednesday, hitting state with 150mph winds
- Thirteen deaths have been confirmed in the US, on top of the two in Cuba after the island was hit this week
- President Biden has declared the event a ‘major disaster’ in Florida which makes federal funding available
- South Carolina is set to become the second US landfall, with Ian strengthening again into a Cat 1 hurricane
Charleston is bracing for a direct hit from Hurricane Ian with storm surges of up to 7ft as it hurtles towards the historic city after barreling through Florida leaving swathes of the state decimated and at least 13 dead.
Monster tempest Ian has recharged from a tropical storm back into a Category 1 hurricane as it angles northwards towards South Carolina to pummel the state Friday morning, as well as neighboring North Carolina and Georgia.
Landfall in Charleston is expected around 8am on Friday, with the surrounding states also being issued with several extreme weather warnings.
A state of emergency has since been declared in Charleston County, which has a population of about 413,000, with officials changing operations to react to a disaster or emergency – which they warn is ‘imminent’.
Ian blasted Florida’s southwest coast with catastrophic force Wednesday at as a major Category 4 storm, before being downgraded to a tropical storm by the National Hurricane Center in an update early Thursday.
The storm blasted coastal cities such as Florida and Naples with winds of 150 mph and life-threatening storm surge, before moving north toward the state’s center to cities such as Jacksonville Orlando.
At least thirteen have been confirmed dead from the various counties caught in the storm’s devastating path.
South Carolina, meanwhile, is bracing for the storm’s second US landfall, which is expected to bring storm surges between 2 to 7ft to wallop major coastal hubs such as Savannah and Charleston before moving further inland to hit cities like Charlotte.
It comes as Joe Biden warned Ian could be the ‘deadliest’ hurricane in Florida’s history with a ‘substantial loss of life’ – as experts fear the true mortality rate lies in the hundreds after many refused to evacuate their homes amid rising water levels to find themselves hopelessly trapped and in need of rescue.
Meanwhile Ron DeSantis said the tsunami-like flooding is a ‘once in a 500-year’ event and revealed it has left 2.6million without power across his state, after Biden declared a major disaster in Florida over the devastation caused by Ian.
He has since scrambled 50 National Guard helicopters to search for survivors and rescue the thousands still stranded by the storm, following extensive damage from torrents of water and 155mph winds.
Residents in Charleston, South Carolina, are boarding up their properties as they await Hurricane Ian’s arrival on Friday
Waters on the coast of South Carolina appear calm as winds pick up ahead of the direct hit Charleston is bracing for the second US landfall
Highway cameras have captured long queues of residents fleeing South Carolina as the Charleston County has issued a state of emergency
Homes in Fort Myers have been decimated by the storm, with several properties being washed away and crashing into other buildings
The extreme damage can be seen in aerial photographs, with homes swept towards the water in Fort Myers as trees and buildings lay broken
President Biden has claimed that Hurricane Ian could be the ‘deadliest’ Florida has ever seen with a ‘substantial loss of life’
Residents in Fort Myers were met with scenes of devastation when they were able to get to the lower floors of their properties, which were left in chaos after floodwater swept through
CHARLESTON: Locals in South Carolina are preparing for storm surges of up to 7ft as Hurricane Ian makes its second landfall
Charleston, North Carolina, is bracing for a direct hit from Hurricane Ian with storm surges of up to 6ft as it hurtles towards the historic city
Sanibel Island has been partially destroyed by Hurricane Ian, with the popular tourist resort suffering devastating blows
Properties in Fort Myers are on fire as other residents were faced with a boat outside their home in the street which had been pushed out of the marina by the hurricane
Vehicles are still trying to make their way through the stagnant water left from the flooding caused by Hurricane Ian in Fort Myers
Debris has gathered in a lake near damaged properties in Fort Myers, Florida, being pushed to one side by the 155mph storm winds
Aerial shots show the level of devastation caused by Hurricane Ian, as mobile homes and other less secure structures can be seen strewn across the floodwater
A residential road in Fort Myers found itself flooded in the storms with the roads no longer visible
Good Samaritans are seen in Orange County trying to keep children from wading through the flash floodwater as Hurricane Ian continues to cross the state
A section of the Sanibel Causeway was knocked out by Hurricane Ian, leaving the population of 6,300 residents stranded in the aftermath of the killer storm as it is the only way on or off the island
The causeway was deserted as authorities try to assess the level of damage to the bridge, before being able to transport assistance and food to the island
Shawn Hulbert, 38, stands outside his damaged home in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Punta Gorda, Florida
Boat have been left partially submerged at a marina in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Fort Myers
Horrifying pictures show the level of devastation in Fort Myers with boats usually in the marina being forced onto the shore amid broken palm trees and damaged infrastructures
President Biden spoke with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis early on Thursday morning after pledging federal assistance to nine counties
Many emerged from their bunkers on Thursday morning to witness the devastation to their communities, with some bursting into tears at the sight of their belongings destroyed.
Lee County’s Sheriff raised fears it was one of the worst natural disasters since Katrina with hundreds dead, but he later tempered his comments after DeSantis and FEMA insisted the death toll is not known.
Yet he did not row back on the claims, simply saying they were preliminary, as he also warned that ‘looting and violence’ in the aftermath would not be tolerated.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is urging residents to prepare to be hit hard by Ian, warning them of the ‘dangerous unpredictability’ of the storm which continues to change course.
He also warned of potential power outages and confirmed that he has activated members of the state’s National Guard, adding: ‘So, for North Carolinians, I want to be clear, this storm can still be dangerous and even deadly.
‘Heavy rains, up to seven inches in some areas, are likely to bring flooding. Landslides are a threat in our mountains and there’s a chance of tornados state-wide.’
Experts are expecting the damages to cost up to $260billion, though the clean-up efforts are currently unable to get underway as swathes of Florida remain underwater.
Sanibel Island has been cut off from the mainland after the Causeway Bridge collapsed into the Gulf of Mexico due to the force of the tempest.
Ian is currently around 35 miles southwest of Cape Canaveral, with maximum speeds of 65mph, and is moving northeast at around 8mph.
Speaking at a press conference at FEMA’s HQ, President Biden said: ‘It is still moving across the state today. This could be the deadliest hurricane in Florida’s history.’
The president added: ‘The numbers are still unclear but we are hearing early reports of what may be substantial loss of life.’
Earlier he declared it a ‘major disaster’ and freed up funds to help those without power and hundreds of thousands whose homes have been leveled.
The President also confirmed he was in ‘close coordination’ with the Florida governor after a phone call early on Thursday morning.
The monster storm continues to rage across the US as:
- Multiple weather warnings are in place across Orlando, as flash flooding continues to ravage central Florida;
- Six inches of rain could fall in southern Virginia as the storm moves inland over towards the Carolinas;
- The NHC has warned that landslides were possible in the southern Appalachian mountains on Friday;
- Two people have died, likely as a result from the storm, but their causes of death are still unconfirmed.
Flamingos were evacuated to the bathroom at Sunken Gardens, St Pete, in Florida, on Wednesday after Hurricane Ian made landfall
A horse and a foal as well as dogs are kept in a living room of a house north of Tampa as owners took drastic measures to ensure their animals stayed safe
Sanibel Island has been cut off from the mainland after the Causeway Bridge collapsed into the Gulf of Mexico due to the force of the tempest
Footage shows cars struggling to make their way through the floodwater, as trees lay strewn across the road as aerial pictures show the extent of the damage
Jackie Pelton walks around her home that was destroyed after flood waters inundated the building and caused the first floor to be swallowed
Search and rescue teams started helping families flee the waterlogged areas of Kissimmee, Florida
A child carries a damaged plant from their home as an adult watches on, taking in the chaos caused by the hurricane in Punta Gorda
Orlando authorities transported a person out of the Avante nursing home amid heavy flooding in central Florida
Though it is not clear exactly what caused the fires to break out, it could have been sparked by damaged power cables, lightning or generators being destroyed by the storm
Homes in Fort Myers were on fire on Thursday morning as the area continues to be devastated in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian
People look on at destroyed boats after Hurricane Ian swept through at the Centennial Park in Fort Myers
Dozens of damaged boats can be seen strewn across downtown Fort Myers in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, with many piled up on top of each other
Ian blasted ashore with catastrophic force on Wednesday afternoon as a Category 4 storm, but has since been downgraded to a tropical storm by the National Hurricane Center in an update early on Thursday
This National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite handout image shows Hurricane Ian, which has been downgraded to a tropical storm, making it’s way over the Atlantic
Firefighters battled against the flames in Fort Myers as the area was swept with a wave of destruction following the hurricane
Eight people confirmed dead as Biden warns it could be the deadliest storm in Florida’s history
Eight people are confirmed to have been killed as a result of the storm in Charlotte County, County Commissioner Chris Constance said.
President Biden said on Thursday that Ian could be the deadliest hurricane to hit Florida in it’s history.
The 1928 Okeechobee hurricane was the fourth deadliest hurricane in the United States, killing 2,500 people.
Almost all of the fatalities occurred in Florida, and reached Category 5 after strengthening before making landfall near West Palm Beach on September 17.
In the city, more than 1,711 homes were destroyed; the effects were most severe around Lake Okeechobee.
A storm surge of 20ft flooded hundreds of square miles as houses and buildings were swept away, costing $100million in damages.
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno, whose area covers Fort Myers, one of the worst affected areas by the monster storm, confirmed that he was expecting hundreds of fatalities in his jurisdiction alone.
He told GMA: ‘While I don’t have confirmed numbers, I definitely know the fatalities are in the hundreds.
‘Thousands of people are waiting to be rescued, I cannot give a true assessment until we are on scene assessing each scene and we can’t access people that is the problem.
‘This will be a life changing event for the men and women who are responding. This is a life-changing event for all of us.’
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood predicted the recovery effort for the tsunami-life waves hitting the state will be like ‘something we’ve not seen in this county ever.’
The Sheriff’s department also confirmed that a man, 72, was found dead in water in a canal behind his home in Deltona near Daytona Beach.
He appeared to be using a hose to drain his pool into the wide canal and fell down an incline that was ‘extremely soft and slippery due to the heavy rain.’
Meanwhile horrifying footage showed flames and black smoke coiling into the sky in Fort Myers as homes were suddenly being engulfed by the blaze.
In a press conference on Thursday, DeSantis said that Florida had ‘never seen a flood event of this magnitude’, saying that there has been ‘extensive damage’ to a lot of building.
He added that both Lee and Charlotte County are in ‘difficult situations’ and ‘off the grid’ after being the hardest hit, and recovery efforts there will focus on rebuilding communication and rescuing those in need.
FORT MYERS: Debris littered the street in Fort Myers as the clean up and rescue mission got underway, with the US Coast Guard confirming that they have performed 28 rescues
FORT MYERS: Smoldering homes in Fort Myers Beach can be seen as firefighters worked hard to put out the flames amid the water damaged homes
FORT MYERS: Rescuers this morning admitted they are only ‘scratching the surface’ and the actual number of victims could soar even higher than a few hundred
FORT MYERS: A beach home has been completely destroyed by the winds and floodwater of Hurricane Ian in Fort Myers
PUNTA GORDA: Damaged homes are seen in Punta Gorda, as plywood and other debris are strewn across the road and lying by the side of properties
Orlando nursing home residents are carried out one-by-one after historic Ian hits central Florida
Emergency crews were seen evacuating elderly residents from an Orlando nursing home on Thursday as a one-in 1,000-year storm continues to batter the theme park capital of the United States before it makes its way to South Carolina.
In Orlando, the storm caused life-threatening and catastrophic flooding in the city of 2.7 million residents, the Wall Street Journal reports, leaving people to kayak through the streets to safety as all the highways into Orlando — and even the international airport — remain closed.
The feet-deep water was even strong enough to stop an ambulance in its tracks, as Orange County Fire and Rescue were seen trying to evacuate elderly residents from the Avante at Orlando nursing center.
The department posted a series of videos on Twitter Thursday morning showing crews entering the facility wearing knee-length jackets.
They then came out carrying elderly residents in stretchers and bringing them to nearby buses, where they would reportedly be brought to nearby shelters.
As the fire rescue crews moved into the nursing home, wind from the storm could be seen picking up.
Officials said they evacuations were being conducted as a precaution as floodwaters continue to rise in the city, according to WFTV.
Lee County’s Sheriff also raised fears it was one of the worst natural disasters since Katrina with hundreds dead, but he later tempered his comments after DeSantis and FEMA insisted the death toll is not known.
However he did not row back on the claims, simply saying they were preliminary, as he also warned that ‘looting and violence’ in the aftermath would not be tolerated.
Currently there are 15 river gauge locations in Florida at or above flood stage, nine of those are at major flood stage, and three have reached all-time records.
Floodwaters are expected to rise further as the Myakka River, Horse Creek and Peace River all broke their records.
The town of Punta Gorda, north of Fort Myers, was in near-total darkness after the storm wiped out power, save for the few buildings with generators.
Video images of the storm’s fury with floodwater reaching rooftops in the worst-hit communities, sweeping away cars and the ruins of homes as palm trees were bent almost in half.
Fire crews and police officers have been inundated with calls from people trapped in flooded homes, while others posted on social media pleading for themselves or loved ones to be rescued after they chose to ride out the storm at home rather than heed evacuation orders.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said rescue crews have been unable to reach them due to the ferocity of the winds and flooding.
Horrifying footage shows debris-strewn water flooding the ground floor of homes, prompting residents to rush to higher levels.
Brittany Hailer, a journalist in Pittsburgh, contacted rescuers about her mother in North Fort Myers, whose home was swamped by 5 feet of water.
She said: ‘We don’t know when the water’s going to go down. We don’t know how they’re going to leave, their cars are totaled. Her only way out is on a boat.’
Robbie Berg, senior hurricane specialist with the National Hurricane Center, said: ‘It doesn’t matter what the intensity of the storm is. We’re still expecting quite a bit of rainfall.’
The US Coast Guard has already performed 28 rescues since they went out in the early hours of the morning.
They have been searching for people in distress, with the majority rescued from Fort Myers to St. Petersburg.
Rear Adm. Brendan McPherson, a US Coast Guard commander, added that Fort Myers rescues were both maritime rescues as well as roof rescues.
Currently eight Coast helicopters are currently in the air, ‘blanketing’ the southwest of Florida.
He added: ‘Right now, we’re responding to a distress call in Lakeland, Florida, which is between St. Petersburg and Orlando… they’ve had a lot of rain and flooding in that area.
‘We’ve sent a helicopter up there to respond to a report of six people on a roof that need rescuing.’
Authorities are also asking everyone to stay off the roads as it is ‘not safe’, telling anyone who remained in the county to wait for the storm to pass.
Firefighters in Naples are urging locals to find the highest point of their home to remain safe, but are warning residents to stay out of their attic’s.
Collier County Sheriff’s Office, which includes Naples, added: ‘Portable towers are on the way for cell service. Chances are your loved ones do not have ability to contact you.
‘We can tell you as daylight reveals the aftermath, it’s going to be a hard day.’
The Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) says that the next 72 hours will be the most critical when it comes to rescue missions in southwest Florida.
Officials from Naples added that damage in their area alone is at least $200million, with $20million coming from damage to City property.
PUNTA GORDA: A firefighter stands by fallen trees aftermath of hurricane in Punta Gorda district, as Ian is intensifying to become a Cat 1 hurricane when it his South Carolina on Friday
FORT MYERS: Police patrols the Centennial Park after Hurricane Ian hit, with floodwater still stagnant in the roads
LEE COUNTY: Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno, whose area covers Fort Myers, which has been one of the worst affected by the monster storm, confirmed that he was expecting hundreds of fatalities in his jurisdiction alone
BONITA SPRINGS: Property in Bonita Springs, close to Naples, were damaged by storm surges with holes in the walls
BONITA SPRINGS: A Plymouth vehicle was turned upside down outside of a luxury beachside property which was badly affected by the storm
NAPLES: Firefighters in Naples, Florida, are warning residents to say on high ground until they can be rescued
NAPLES: A McLaren P1, worth around $1.2million, was flooded out of a garage and into the road alongside a Rolls-Royce Phantom, destroying the super car as it was washed away in Naples, Florida
NAPLES: Emergency services in Naples have already begun rescue missions for residents who are trapped in their homes
ORLANDO: People paddle by in a canoe next to a submerged car in the aftermath of flash flooding in an attempt to get to safety
ORLANDO: A car was abandoned with the boot open, and was submerged in a flooded road due to heavy rains from Hurricane Ian
ORLANDO: A truck drives through a flooded highway ramp following Hurricane Ian, in Orlando, Florida, as flash flood warnings are in place
ORLANDO: Emergency crews were seen evacuating elderly residents from an Orlando nursing home on Thursday
ORLANDO: Orange County Sheriff’s Office helped to move residents in Orlando who had become trapped by flash flooding
ORLANDO: Hundreds of power company trucks ready to restore power as 40,000 linemen ready to get to work across Florida
ORLANDO: Orange County Fire Rescue team help people stranded by Hurricane Ian with boats as they try to evacuate residents from their homes
Biden declares major disaster in Florida: President frees up funds for state ravaged by Hurricane Ian
Joe Biden declared a ‘major disaster’ in Florida early Thursday morning after Hurricane Ian made landfall, leaving 2.5 million without power.
The president’s declaration makes federal funding available to nine counties on the Gulf Coast of the Sunshine State. The funding could include assistance for temporary housing and home repairs and low-cost loans to help cover uninsured property, among other programs.
The cost of repairing and reconstructing homes from the storm damage could cost up to $260 billion, according to property experts CoreLogic.
Flash flood warnings are in effect for Orange and Brevard counties as rain from Hurricane Ian hits central Florida.
Volusia is also under a flash flood emergency, with river levels rising above 30.6ft, as winds of 95mph are being recorded.
Chief Lauraleigh Avery, emergency manager for Orange County Government’s Office of Emergency Management, said: ‘Wherever they are, they need to stay put.
‘We could have a really rapid amount of rain, a lot of rain coming really fast. We were already expecting 12 to 20 inches of rain. Now we could go up to 30 in some areas.’
DeSantis confirmed that he had spoken to President Biden, and that he would be seeking further federal support and funding as Ian heads towards Orlando with rising water levels.
During a press conference on Thursday, Biden confirmed that FEMA would assist Florida in the clean up, and foot the bill from the destruction caused by Hurricane Ian.
Speaking from the FEMA headquarters in Washington, DC, he said: ‘ It is still moving across the state today. This could be the deadliest hurricane in Florida’s history.
‘The numbers are still unclear but we are hearing early reports of what may be substantial loss of life.
‘My message to people in Florida, at times like this: America comes together. We’re going to pull together as one team, as one America.
‘The federal government will cover 100% of the cost to clear debris and for all the costs the state has to engage in and expend to save lives.
‘The federal government will also cover the majority of the cost of rebuilding public buildings like schools and state fire stations.
SANFORD: Firefighters clear fallen trees outside a building in the wake of Hurricane Ian in Sanford
BARTOW: A commercial sign was seen bent over outside of a drive-thru restaurant in Bartow, after being hit by high speed winds
BARTOW: Downed trees in Bartow, Florida, lay across the road as large trucks are called in to remove them in order to get the town functioning normally again
BARTOW: Police officers direct the traffic during a power outage as officials work to repair the electricity lines
NORTH PORT: Damaged cars with smashed windshields and airbags expanded can be seen on the side of Interstate 75 in North Port
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis described the mass flooding from Hurricane Ian as a ‘once in a 500-year’ event, and confirmed that 2.6million are currently without power
Brand new McLaren supercar worth over $1 MILLION is washed from Florida garage by floodwater
A brand-new McLaren P1 worth over $1million is swept down the street in Naples by flood waters as catastrophic Ian continues to pummel Florida.
Ernie shared footage of his own heartbreaking loss as his newly purchased McLaren P1 was engulfed in flood waters, swept out of his garage and down the mansion-lined street which now resembles a raging river.
The car enthusiast appears to have a fleet of luxury cars – which he shows off regularly on his Instagram account.
But the McLaren P1 has dominated the last 12 posts of Ernie’s account with the first starting a week ago when he posted that the car only had 300 miles on it. It was reportedly priced at over $1 million when it first went on sale.
On Wednesday evening, Ernie shared photos of his hurricane-ravaged Florida neighborhood in Naples where streets had turned into rivers. His garage – where the McLaren P1 and Rolls Royce were housed – was completely flooded and both vehicles were submerged in water.
In his most recent post, only the top of the bright yellow McLaren P1 could be seen as it floated down the street. His caption read: ‘Car went thru the garage.’
Before the hurricane struck, Ernie had posted a photos of the car with the caption ‘My hurricane supply car #p1’
His followers shared in his heartbreak, and wrote messages of support in his comment, while others made snarky remarks on his previous posts.
‘Earlier this week I approved his request for the pre-landfall emergency declaration to provide direct federal assistance to the state, for emergency protective measures to save lives, including search and rescue and shelter and food.
‘Earlier this morning I approved the governor’s most recent request for expedited major disaster declaration.’
In a statement the White House added: ‘The President spoke this morning with Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida to discuss the steps the Biden-Harris Administration is taking to support Florida in response to Hurricane Ian, including the issuance of a Disaster Declaration this morning.
‘The President told the Governor he is sending his FEMA Administrator to Florida tomorrow to check in on response efforts and see where additional support is needed. The President and Governor committed to continued close coordination.’
Lee County Sheriff’s Office have advised people struggling to get through to ‘keep trying’ as no electricity and patchy cellphone coverage meaning many calls for help weren’t getting through.
The slow-moving hurricane is continuing to unleash drenching rains as it creeps inland, trapping scores of people – believed to be thousands – in their flooded homes.
‘Severe and life-threatening storm surge inundation of 8 to 10 feet above ground level along with destructive waves is ongoing along the southwest Florida coastline from Englewood to Bonita Beach, including Charlotte Harbor,’ the National Hurricane Center warned.
Florida’s idyllic southwestern shoreline, dotted with sandy beaches, coastal towns and mobile home parks, was rapidly transformed into a disaster zone inundated by seawater.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott earlier this week sent urban search-and-rescue teams, consisting of 45 people, four boats and two canines, to help with the efforts.
Thousands of residents on Sanibel Island have had their only way to flee completely destroyed, as the Causeway fell into the see.
It cut off access to the barrier island where 6,300 people usually live, though it is unclear how many chose to stay on the island despite the mandatory evacuation orders.
The island was battered by 150mph winds and huge tsunami-like waves as Ian made landfall yesterday, with footage showing hotel guests battling to keep the windows on a building.
A time-lapse video shows how quickly the remote coastline island was swallowed by the masses of floodwater, becoming completely submerged in just 30 minutes.
SANIBEL ISLAND: A military Chinook landed on Sanibel beach in the wake of the hurricane after all bridges to and from the island were destroyed
SANIBEL ISLAND: A fire broke out on several properties across Sanibel Island as emergency services battled to protect the homes
SANIBEL ISLAND: Residents walk through the rubble in downtown Fort Myers as debris is littered all over the streets
SANIBEL ISLAND: A section of the Sanibel Causeway was lost due to the effects of Hurricane Ian, and it is unclear when repairs will begin
SANIBEL ISLAND: Boats are stacked up against the Port Sanibel Marina Motel after they were all dragged across the floodwater by the hurricane
PORT CHARLOTTE: Hospital staff at HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital were forced to evacuate after floodwater burst through the roof
ST PETERSBURG: Rescue and clean up efforts have started in St Petersburg, Florida, which was hit with severe wind and rain causing severe damage
SARASOTA: Storm debris litters a street in the wake of Hurricane Ian in Sarasota, Florida
KEY WEST: Hurricane Ian passed over Naval Air Station (NAS) Key West causing flood damage and prompting evacuations of Navy personnel and families
PONCIANA: A man looks at his cellphone while drives a motorcycle through a flooded area after being hit by Hurricane Ian
Officials in Tampa confirmed that they were reopening the Sunshine Skyway Bridge after closing because of high speeds over 40mph.
Florida’s Highway Patrol said: ‘The Skyway Bridge has been reopened to traffic in both directions as wind speeds have dropped to 30 MPH.
‘Motorists may cross the span, but are asked to use caution due to debris along the highway shoulders.’
Sunday’s NFL game between Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs will also be played as scheduled in Raymond James Stadium.
Up to a foot of rain is forecast for parts of Northeast Florida, coastal Georgia and the Lowcountry of South Carolina.
As much as 6 inches could fall in southern Virginia as the storm moves inland over the Carolinas, and the center said landslides were possible in the southern Appalachian mountains.
The Weather Underground predicted the storm would pass near Daytona Beach and go into the Atlantic before veering back ashore in South Carolina on Friday.
The governors of South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia all preemptively declared states of emergency.
No deaths have officially been reported in the United States from Ian, but a boat carrying Cuban migrants sank Wednesday in stormy weather east of Key West.
The U.S. Coast Guard initiated a search and rescue mission for 23 people and managed to find three survivors about two miles south of the Florida Keys, officials said.
Four other Cubans swam to Stock Island, just east of Key West, the U.S. Border Patrol said. Air crews continued to search for possibly 20 remaining migrants.
The storm previously tore into Cuba, killing two people and bringing down the country’s electrical grid.
CUBA: A man repairs a traffic light in Havana as the rebuilding of the city continues in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian
CUBA: Tobacco farm owner Maritza Carpio cries next to her husband Ramon Martinez while looking at their destroyed tobacco house after the passage of Hurricane Ian in San Luis, Cuba
CUBA: Young Cuban soldiers prepare to clean a park in Havana in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian
CUBA: People play in the breaking waves at the Malecon, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Havana, Cuba on Wednesday
Disney, airports and popular attractions in Florida are CLOSED after of Hurricane Ian
- Disney Orlando theme and water parks
- Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
- Copper Creek Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Treehouse Villas at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
- Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
- Typhoon Lagoon
- Winter Summerland Miniature Golf
- Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf
- St Pete International
- Sarasota Bradenton
- Fort Lauderdale (delays and cancelations)
- Universal Orlando
- SeaWorld Orlando
- Kennedy Space Center
- Straz Center
- Florida Aquarium
- The Dali Museum
- Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
- Sparkman Wharf
- Yacht StarShip
- Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center
- 11 Waffle House stores
- Publix in 11 counties
- Lightning preseason postponed
- Buccaneers relocated to Miami
The hurricane’s eye made landfall near Cayo Costa, a barrier island just west of heavily populated Fort Myers, with water draining from Tampa Bay as it approached.
More than 2.6 million Florida homes and businesses were left without electricity, with most of the homes and businesses in 12 counties without power.
Streets were turned into rivers, with the storm surge flooding the lower level emergency room of HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital in Port Charlotte, while fierce winds tore part of its fourth floor roof from its intensive care units.
Water poured in from above onto the ICU, forcing staff to evacuate the hospital’s sickest patients – some of them on ventilators – to other floors.
Sheriff Bull Prummell of Charlotte County, just north of Fort Myers, announced a curfew between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. ‘for life-saving purposes,’ saying violators may face second-degree misdemeanor charges.
‘I am enacting this curfew as a means of protecting the people and property of Charlotte County,’ Prummell said.
Strong gusts and horizontal rains were still lashing Venice, Florida, a city of about 25,000 residents some 32 miles northwest of where Ian first came ashore at the barrier island of Cayo Costa seven hours earlier.
Larger structures remained mostly intact, but small, residential areas off of Highway 41, a major artery through the area, were left in a shambles.
Downed trees and power lines covered roadways to the point that the asphalt was not visible, roofs were ripped off of some homes, and water was pouring into neighborhoods from seemingly all directions.
A large open lot in front of a Winn Dixie grocery store became a lake, with white-capping waters reaching the trunks of some the cars parked there. Power was out in larger swaths of the area, with communications nearly impossible in many spots.
DeSantis said Ian had generated life-threatening storm surges – waves of wind-driven seawater rushing in along the coast – of up to 12 feet in some places. Forecasters also warned of intense thunderstorms and possible tornadoes.
‘This is a storm that we will talk about for many years to come, an historic event,’ said Ken Graham, director of the National Weather Service.
By comparison, Hurricane Michael came ashore in Florida’s panhandle in 2018 with steady winds of 155 mph, while Ida last year packed sustained winds of 150 mph when it landed in Louisiana.
Even as Ian lashed the coast before it finally swept ashore, authorities warned residents it was too late for anyone who had yet to evacuate to safely do so. Earlier this week, more than 2.5 million residents had been told to evacuate.
Many mobile home residents took refuge in local schools and other facilities converted to emergency shelters. The area’s numerous assisted-living facilities were mostly evacuated, too.
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