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Tropical Storm Ian still pounding Florida in ‘500-year flooding event’; 2.6M without power: Live updates

Written by on September 29, 2022

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The loss of life toll was rising and thousand of residents desperately sought rescue Thursday as traditionally highly effective Hurricane Ian, now a tropical storm, hammered Florida with heavy rain and robust winds, one of the strongest systems in U.S. history.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis described the storm as “500-year flooding occasion” and stated Coast Guard helicopters had been plucking trapped residents from the roofs of properties. Communities throughout the state had been or will probably be swamped by the overwhelming waters, he stated.

“The impacts of this storm are historic and the injury that has been completed is historic,” DeSantis stated. “We have by no means seen a flood occasion like this, we have by no means seen a storm surge of this magnitude.”

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno stated on CNN that a minimum of 5 deaths have been confirmed in his county, which incorporates Fort Myers. And a 72-year-old man in Deltona, about 30 miles northeast of Orlando, died after falling right into a canal whereas utilizing a hose to empty his pool within the heavy rain, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Workplace stated.

Sheriffs in southwest Florida stated 911 facilities had been inundated by 1000’s of stranded callers, some with life-threatening emergencies. Greater than 2.6 million Florida properties and enterprise had been with out energy early Thursday. 

Ian had weakened to a tropical storm however was forecast to continue roaring across the state a lot of the day earlier than heading out into the Atlantic. The storm flooded total communities, leaving residents stranded of their properties after making landfall Wednesda with 150-mph most sustained winds – simply 7 mph shy of a Class 5 hurricane, the strongest on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane scale.

The storm beforehand tore into Cuba, killing two individuals and bringing down the complete nation’s electrical grid.

Newest developments:

►The U.S. Coast Guard was nonetheless trying to find greater than 20 Cuban migrants after their boat sank in stormy climate close to the Florida Keys.

► Ian’s energy at landfall tied it for the fifth-strongest hurricane when measured by wind pace to strike the U.S. It is tied with 5 different hurricanes that reached 150 mph — two in Florida, two in Louisiana and one in Texas.

►Waffle Home, know for nice waffles and at all times being open, stated 35 retailers had been shut down due the storm as of Thursday morning.

► Residents described the terror after a twister tore by means of a condominium advanced close to Delray Seashore, ripping off roofs and turning over autos. “I felt issues blow previous my head and face,” resident Jim Travis stated. “Once I opened the door, my condo was destroyed.” Read more. 

Fast hyperlinks:

GET TEXT UPDATES: Sign up here for text updates on Hurricane Ian.

HURRICANE IAN TRACKER: The place is Ian headed? See the map.

IAN FORECAST: Ian prone to spend days dumping rain on Florida. Here’s the outlook.

Ian as considered by means of a peephole in North Port

Elizabeth Hayes watched everything of Hurricane Ian move over her dwelling in North Port, 50 miles northwest of Fort Myers, by means of a peephole in her shutters. The longtime resident says she was not ready for the devastating flooding – and she or he is aware of extra floodwater is on its method. She stated solely the roof of her shed within the yard is above water. North Port residents are utilizing small boats, kayaks and paddle boards to examine properties that flooded alongside the Myakkahatchee Creek on Thursday morning.

“We’ve seen it flood, we’ve boated out and in earlier than, however that is devastating,” Hayes stated.

Airports closed, flights canceled

Most Florida airports remain closed Thursday and numerous flights are canceled. Airports which are open are coping with delays in addition to cancellations. 

Almost 2,000 U.S. flights had been canceled Thursday, and the best numbers had been throughout Florida, in response to Flight Conscious, which tracks flight standing in actual time. Journey by means of components of Georgia and the Carolinas was additionally impacted because the storm moved north. Tampa Worldwide Airport officers tweeted that injury assessments had been underway.

“We’re carefully coordinating our reopening with the FAA, TSA, airways, and different companions based mostly on roadway security, facility readiness, and required staffing,” the publish stated. “We hope to have an replace on reopening plans later in the present day.”

– Eve Chen, USA TODAY

Part of Sanibel Causeway crashes into sea

A piece of the Sanibel Causeway collapsed into San Carlos Bay, reducing off entry to the barrier island the place 6,300 individuals usually stay. A compulsory evacuation order had been issued for the island forward of the storm but it surely was not clear how many individuals had stayed behind.  

DeSantis stated Thursday morning that greater than 100 engineers in pairs of two will work to evaluate the bridges alongside the west coast of Florida. 

Biden points catastrophe declaration

President Joe Biden issued a disaster declaration to make federal funding accessible to affected residents within the Florida counties of Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas, and Sarasota. DeSantis stated he would ask that the declaration be expanded as extra counties report crippling injury from Ian.

Help can embody grants for non permanent housing and residential repairs, low-cost loans to cowl uninsured property losses, and different applications to assist residents and enterprise homeowners recuperate from the results of the catastrophe. Federal funding additionally is on the market for particles removing.

Biden stated his administration was “persevering with to take swift motion to assist the households of Florida. … I need the individuals of Florida to know that we’ll be right here at each step of the way in which.”

St. Petersburg dodged worst of Ian

After 1000’s of individuals evacuated earlier this week, making ready for life-threatening storm surge, residents in St. Petersburg awoke Thursday to minimal injury.

Police directed visitors at intersections with damaged visitors lights. Some bushes had fallen, blocking roadways and taking down energy traces. In Coquina Key, an island neighborhood south of downtown, a Norfolk Island pine had snapped in half, its branches scattered in a yard. Close by, Dale Fredrick used a chainsaw to chop branches of one other downed tree blocking a roadway.

“It gained’t take lengthy,” Fredrick, 58, stated. “Simply little by little.”

Hurricane Ian tracker 

As now Tropical Storm Ian continues to maneuver throughout Florida on Thursday, USA TODAY’s Hurricane Ian tracker will remain updated and supply the latest look at where the storm is headed.

A man walks through debris on a street in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Punta Gorda, Florida on Sept. 29, 2022.

Lee County sheriff fears ‘lots of’ might be lifeless

The hurricane’s middle made landfall as a Class four hurricane Wednesday afternoon close to Cayo Costa, a barrier island simply west of closely populated Fort Myers in Lee County.

“Whereas I haven’t got confirmed numbers, I undoubtedly know the fatalities are within the lots of,” Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno stated on ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America.” “There are literally thousands of individuals which are ready to be rescued.”

Pressed on the numbers, Marceno stated “up to now confirmed within the lots of. Which means that we’re responding to occasions, drownings. Once more, uncertain of the precise particulars as a result of we’re simply beginning to scratch the floor on this evaluation.”

Emergency crews sawed by means of toppled bushes to achieve individuals in flooded properties. “If the road is busy, maintain attempting,” Marceno stated in a Fb publish Thursday.

Gov. Ron DeSantis downplayed Marceno’s numbers, saying “none of that’s confirmed.”

“What that’s, there have been 911 calls from individuals of their properties saying, ‘hey, the water is rising. I’m going to go up within the attic. However I’m actually apprehensive,” DeSantis stated.

Greater than 2.6 million Floridians with out energy

Greater than 2.5 million properties and companies throughout Florida had been with out energy early Thursday, in response to PowerOutage.us. A lot of the properties and companies in 12 counties had been with out energy, though authorities stated they had been making progress, that energy had been restored to 500,000.

DeSantis stated the ability grids in Lee and Charlotte counties will possible must be rebuilt.

“Lee and Charlotte are mainly off the grid at this level,” DeSantis stated. “That is going to be extra than simply connecting an influence line again to a pole,” he stated.

Southeast braces as Ian advances

Meteorologists with the Nationwide Hurricane Middle stated Ian will roll off of Florida’s east coast, flip northwest and may strengthen to hurricane standing once more earlier than making landfall once more in South Carolina. The governors of South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia all preemptively declared states of emergency.

“State businesses are working collectively and making ready for Hurricane Ian’s potential affect,” South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster stated on Twitter. “Every South Carolinian ought to do the identical – take the time now to make a plan for each contingency.”

Hospital roof partially torn off, hearth station flooded: Injury in Florida 

Elements of Florida’s Gulf Coast noticed main injury as Hurricane Ian swept by means of the state, damaging buildings and houses and flooding communities.

Water coursed by means of the streets of Naples, creating big waves that made roads impassable and flooded the town’s hearth division. A video posted by Naples Hearth-Rescue confirmed crews working to salvage tools and firetrucks in additional than three ft of water. In Cape Coral, about 30 miles up the coast, pictures confirmed a sailboat washed up in the course of a highway close to properties. 

A man takes photos of boats damaged by Hurricane Ian in Fort Myers, Fla., on Sept.29, 2022.

Close by Fort Myers saw intense storm surge flooding coastal communities and the world round WINK Information, a neighborhood CBS affiliate. Videos showed water reaching automobile windshields within the studio’s parking zone and among the storm surge leaking into the constructing. 

Farther north alongside the coast, intense storm surge flooded a hospital’s decrease stage emergency room in Port Charlotte, whereas fierce winds ripped away a part of the roof from its intensive care unit, in response to a physician who works there.

WHAT IS STORM SURGE?Explaining a hurricane’s deadliest and most destructive threat

Water gushed down from above onto the ICU, forcing employees to evacuate the hospital’s sickest sufferers – a few of whom had been on ventilators – to different flooring, stated Dr. Birgit Bodine of HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital. Employees members used towels and plastic bins to attempt to mop up the sodden mess.

Officers warned flash floods had been doable throughout the state, which might result in air pollution and radioactive waste overflow.

SAFFIR-SIMPSON WIND SPEED SCALE:Breaking down wind speed scale for hurricanes.

HOW DOES HURRICANE IAN COMPARE:Category 5 hurricanes are rare. Is Ian’s punch the worst U.S. has seen?

Contributing: Kate Cimini, USA Right now Community-Florida; Jesus Medoza and Kathryn Varn, Sarasota Herald-Tribune; Related Press