As Florida woke up on Friday to apocalyptic damage from coast to coast – with searchers still going door to door and millions without power – deadly Hurricane Ian began battering the South Carolina, where a landfall scheduled for Friday afternoon threatens more deadly flooding and could be powerful enough to alter the coastal landscape.
After killing at least 19 people, Ian strengthened against a Category 1 storm in the Atlantic and was heading towards South Carolina with winds of 85 mph at 8 a.m. ET on Friday, with its center expected to shift over land. in the afternoon between Charleston and Myrtle Beach, forecasters said.
Tropical storm-force winds — 39 to 73 mph — were already battering much of the Carolinas coast by 8 a.m., and storm surges and life-threatening hurricane conditions were expected in the hours that followed, a said the National Hurricane Center.
“This is a dangerous storm that will bring high winds and lots of water,” South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said. tweeted. “Be smart, make good decisions, watch your loved ones and stay safe.”
Meanwhile, Florida is taking stock of the staggering destruction Ian wreaked across much of the peninsula on Wednesday and Thursday after smashing through the southwest coast as a Category 4 storm. Homes on the coast were swept away by sea, buildings were destroyed across the state, and floodwaters destroyed homes and businesses and trapped residents, even inland in places like the Orlando area.
Hundreds of rescues have taken place by land, air and sea, with residents trapped in homes or stranded on rooftops, and searchers are still carrying out welfare checks, particularly in the Fort Myers and Naples, where feet of storm surge flooded streets and homes.
And now, the aftermath of the storm poses deadly new dangers of their own. Some standing water is electrified, officials warned, while maneuvering through debris-strewn buildings and streets — many without functioning traffic lights — risk injury. Lack of air conditioning can lead to heat-related illnesses and misuse of the generator can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
In North Port, between Fort Myers and Sarasota, Rosanna Walker stood Thursday in the flood-damaged home where she rode through the storm. Part of its plasterboard ceiling was hanging down.
“And all of a sudden the water was coming in through the doors – the top, the bottom, the windows here,” she told CNN’s John Berman. “Everything is in my cupboards; I have to empty my cupboards.
“It’s all been messed up.”
Here’s what you need to know:
• Dozens of deaths reported: At least 19 storm-related deaths have been reported so far in Florida, though that number is likely to rise. The majority of deaths are in hard-hit Lee and Charlotte counties.
• More than 2 million failures: According to PowerOutage.us, millions of Floridians who were in Ian’s path are still in the dark Friday morning. Most of the counties with the highest percentage of residents without power are in the southwest, including Lee, Charlotte, DeSoto and Hardee.
• Historic floods in some areas: Record flooding was recorded in central and northern Florida, including at least three rivers that hit all-time flood records. Orlando officials warned residents of dangerous flooding, which exceeded a foot in some areas.
• Hundreds of rescues and thousands of evacuations: More than 700 rescues have taken place across Florida so far, the governor said Thursday, and thousands of evacuees have been reported. In Lee County, a hospital system had to evacuate more than 1,000 patients after its water supply was cut off, while other widespread evacuations were reported at jails and nursing homes.
• Coastal islands completely isolated from the mainland: Sanibel and Captiva Islands in southwest Florida are cut off from the mainland after several parts of a critical causeway were ripped out. At least two people were killed in the storm in Sanibel, and the bridge may need to be completely rebuilt, local officials said. Chip Farrar, a resident of the small island of Matlacha, told CNN that 50 feet of road essential to reach the mainland bridge was washed out and a second bridge nearby also collapsed.
• Impacts of the storm today: A hurricane warning has been issued from the Savannah River on the Georgia-South Carolina border to Cape Fear, North Carolina. Significant flooding is possible from seawater and rain, especially in parts of the South Carolina coast, where storm surges of up to 7 feet and 4 to 12 inches of rain could hit , according to forecasters.
As Hurricane Ian moved away from Florida, the governors of South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia declared emergencies.
McMaster, of South Carolina, implored residents not to underestimate the danger of the storm and urged them to closely follow storm warnings to prepare for Friday’s impact.
And when all is said and done, Ian’s storm system will likely have left lasting changes in its wake.
Coastlines along Georgia and South Carolina could experience significant change as powerful waves and storm surges from Ian could inundate coastal sand dunes, according to the US Geological Survey.
In addition to flooding communities behind the dunes, the storm can push sand and deposit it inland, which could “reduce the height of protective sand dunes, alter beach profiles and leave areas behind. dunes more vulnerable to future storms,” the agency said. .
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