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Ian reverted to a Category 1 hurricane on Thursday evening and was expected to make landfall Friday afternoon in coastal South Carolina before moving inland across the state and into North Carolina on Saturday.
Heavy rains and tropical storm conditions had already reached the coasts of Georgia and the Carolinas Friday morning, where storm surges and life-threatening hurricane conditions were expected to develop. Rainfall of up to 8 inches threatened flooding from South Carolina to Virginia, the National Weather Service reported.
Meanwhile, across Florida, the death toll rose as more than 2 million customers were without power Friday morning, according to utility tracker poweroutage.us.
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday said the storm had caused a “500-year flood” and said Coast Guard helicopters were pulling trapped residents off the roofs of homes. Communities across the state have been or will be submerged by the crushing waters.
“The impacts of this storm are historic and the damage that has been done is historic,” DeSantis said. “We’ve never seen a flood like this, we’ve never seen a storm surge of this magnitude.”
►In South Carolina, President Joe Biden has declared a state of emergency and ordered federal aid, according to the White House.
►Hurricane Ian losses so far are between $25 billion and $40 billion, Credit agency Fitch Ratings announced on Thursday.
Hurricane Ian tracking
After moving slowly across Florida, Hurricane Ian gained strength over the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday before wreaking havoc in South Carolina, Georgia and other east coast states. . Check here for the latest storm strength updates and follow where it goes next.
As of 8 a.m. Friday, Ian was about 105 miles south-southeast of Charleston and moving north at 9 mph with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, the hurricane center said.
At least 14 confirmed deaths in Florida, death toll expected to rise
The destruction left by Ian has made it difficult to get an accurate assessment of loss of life, but there are already reports of 14 deaths, with more expected.
- Sanibel Island authorities reported two deaths. Residents of at least 200 households had chosen not to evacuate.
- In Charlotte County just north of Fort Myers, there have been six confirmed deaths, County Commissioner Chris Constance told CNN Thursday afternoon.
- In Lee County, which includes the island of Cayo Costa near Cape Coral where the storm made landfall, Sheriff Carmine Marceno told CNN at least five deaths have been confirmed.
- To Deltoneabout 30 miles northeast of Orlando, a 72-year-old man died after falling into a canal while using a hose to drain his pool in the pouring rain, the county sheriff’s office said. Volusa.
Fort Myers Beach ‘disappeared’ after Hurricane Ian damage
Fort Myers Beach bore the brunt of Hurricane Ian’s onslaught on the Florida coastline. The Category 4 storm sent 150mph winds and a towering storm surge ripping through the center of the city. On Thursday, locals began to see what could be salvaged from the wreckage.
“I think mine is going to be a total loss,” Joy McCormack said as she stood in front of a stretch of mobile homes, townhouses and condos that were knee-deep in waters of raw. “It’s the only house I have and if she’s gone…” She trailed off.
For Mitch Stough and his brother, Fort Myers Beach was their bread and butter. Now it has been completely destroyed. Stough worked at the iconic Lani Kai resort and said the storm surge stripped the vacation spot’s first floor of its structural elements.
“There’s nothing there,” Stough said. “Fort Myers beach is gone.” Learn more here.
— Dan Glaun, John Kennedy, Samantha Neely, The News-Press
In Charleston, powerful gusts of wind and rain as Ian approached
Strong winds were blowing early Friday morning in Charleston, South Carolina, with powerful gusts bending tree branches and sending steady showers of rain falling to the side as Hurricane Ian approaches.
The streets were largely empty, a usually crowded morning commute silenced by the advancing storm. Flash flood warnings were posted, with up to 8 inches of rain predicted for the Charleston area and a high tide expected just before noon, a circumstance that often inundates the downtown peninsula alone with rainfall even moderate.
— Associated Press
Contributors: John Bacon, Thao Nguyen, Jorge Ortiz, Doyle Rice, Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY.
The Associated Press