Flooding traps people in Florida as Ian approaches South Carolina

Stan Pentz walks out of the Iona neighborhood after Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida, September 29, 2022.

Andrew West | News-Press | USA Today Network | via Reuters

Rescue crews sailed and waded through flooded streets on Thursday to rescue thousands of Floridians stranded after Hurricane Ian destroyed homes and businesses and left millions submerged. dark.

The devastation began to make headlines a day after Ian made landfall in Florida as one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to make landfall in the United States. waterfront docks and power 2.67 million homes and businesses in Florida – nearly a quarter of utility customers. At least one man is confirmed dead.

Aerial photographs from the Fort Myers area, a few miles west of where Ian made landfall, show houses ripped from their stone slabs and deposited in a jumble of debris. crumbs. The businesses near the beach have been completely razed, leaving only twisted debris. Piers crumbled at odd angles next to damaged boats, and fires smolder on plots of land where houses once stood.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis told a news conference: “We have never seen storm surges of this magnitude. “Water volumes are increasing and will likely continue to increase today even after the storm passes, essentially a 500-year flood event.”

Despite being downgraded to a tropical storm on Thursday morning, the National Hurricane Center said high tides and rain remained a threat as Ian crept across the Florida peninsula and emerged in the Atlantic Ocean north of the Cape. Canaveral. Forecasters predict Ian will regain some strength while turning north.

A hurricane warning was issued for the coast of South Carolina, where the storm was expected to make landfall again, making landfall in Cuba and Florida.

The sheriff in southwest Florida said 911 centers were flooded by thousands of stranded callers, some with life-threatening emergencies. The US Coast Guard began rescue efforts hours before dawn on barrier islands near where Ian attacked, DeSantis said. More than 800 members of federal urban search and rescue teams are also present in the area.

In the Orlando area, Orange County firefighters used boats to reach residents in a flooded neighborhood. A photo the department posted on Twitter shows a firefighter carrying a person in his arms through knee-deep water. At a nursing home in the area, patients were carried on stretchers through floodwaters to a waiting bus.

Timelapse shows destructive storm surge from Hurricane Ian in Fort Myers, Florida

Firefighters on a boat and National Guard soldiers in a tall truck rescued Joseph Agboona and his neighbors after water surged through the windows of his home in Orlando.

“We are happy to be out,” said Agboona, who took two bags of possessions, not knowing what would be left when she returned. “It’s very, very bad.”

In Fort Myers, Valerie Bartley’s family spent desperate hours on Wednesday, propping the dining room table against their porch door, fearing the raging storm outside “was tearing apart their home.” we.”

“I was so scared,” Bartley said. “What we heard were shingles and debris from everything in the neighborhood hitting our house.”

She said her 4-year-old daughter took her hand and said, “I’m scared too, but it’ll be okay.” The girl was right. According to Bartley, the storm tore off a patio curtain and broke a palm tree in the yard, but left the roof of the house and her family unharmed.

Authorities confirmed at least one death in Florida — a 72-year-old Deltona man fell into a canal while using a hose to drain his pool during heavy rain, the County Sheriff’s Office said. Volusia said. Two other storm deaths were reported in Cuba.

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said his office is trying to answer thousands of 911 calls, but many roads and bridges in Fort Myers and the surrounding area are impassable.

“It crushed us,” Marceno told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “We still can’t reach many of those in need.”

Emergency crews sawed through fallen trees to reach those trapped. Many people in the worst-affected areas were unable to call for help because of power and mobile outages.

“Cell towers are rolling out cellular service. Chances are your loved ones won’t be able to reach you,” said the sheriff’s office in Collier County, which includes Naples. “We can tell you when daylight reveals the consequences, it’s going to be a tough day.”

Christine Bomlitz was unable to reach her mother by phone after the storm made landfall south of Englewood, where the 84-year-old lives in a retirement community. Bomlitz said her mother was supposed to evacuate but was never picked up. So the worried daughter from Las Vegas posted a cry for help on social media.

Several kind Samaritans responded and came to her aid on Thursday, one of them wading in chest-deep water in her mother’s neighborhood to perform a welfare check. Relieved that her mother weathered the storm, Bomlitz is working to arrange a rescue by boat.

“I am grateful for this stranger, a complete stranger,” said Bomlitz. “Everybody is amazing.”

A section of the Sanibel Causeway fell into the sea, cutting off access to the barrier island where 6,300 people normally live. It’s unknown how many people heeded the evacuation order, but Charlotte County Emergency Management Director Patrick Fuller expressed cautious optimism that the worst-case scenario might not have materialized.

There have been no confirmed deaths or injuries in the county, and the flyovers of the barrier islands show “the integrity of the homes was much better than we expected,” Fuller said. Fuller said.

A resident of a mobile home clears debris from a fallen tree after Hurricane Ian, in Fort Myers, Florida, on September 29, 2022. Hurricane Ian has left much of coastal southwestern Florida in shadow. evening early on Thursday, bringing with it devastating flooding. Officials are ready for an emergency response to a storm of rare magnitude. The National Hurricane Center said the eye of the “extremely dangerous” storm made landfall shortly after 3 p.m. on the barrier island of Cayo Costa, west of Fort Myers.

Giorgio Viera | Afp | beautiful pictures

On the south side of Sanibel Island, the historic seaside pier in Naples was demolished, with even the underlying framework ripped apart as towering waves crashed into the structure. “Currently, there are no docks,” said Penny Taylor, a Collier County commissioner.

In Port Charlotte, The hospital emergency room was flooded and fierce winds tore off part of the roof, sending water into the intensive care unit. Dr Birgit Bodine of HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital said the sickest patients – some on ventilators – had gathered on the middle two floors as staff prepared for the incoming storm victims.

The Florida Highway Patrol has closed the Florida Turnpike in the Orlando area and said the main highway in the middle of the state will remain closed until the waters recede.

Ian hit Florida as a ferocious Category 4 hurricane, with winds of 150 mph (241 km/h) forcing it to become the fifth strongest hurricane to ever make landfall in the United States.

Even after weakening, Tropical Storm Ian’s winds still reached 415 miles (667 km) from its center. Forecasters expect the Atlantic to strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane before making landfall in South Carolina on Friday.

The National Hurricane Center warned of storm surges of 1.83 meters or more from Daytona Beach, Florida, to northern Charleston, South Carolina. Rainfall of up to 8 inches (20.32 cm) threatened flooding in the Carolinas and Virginia.

“It doesn’t matter the intensity of the storm,” said Robbie Berg, senior hurricane expert for the National Hurricane Center, in an interview with the Associated Press.

US Coast Guard begins search and rescue mission for 23 people after a boat carrying Cuban migrants sank Wednesday in stormy weather east of Key West. The US Border Patrol said it had found three survivors and four others swimming ashore. Crews continue to search for there may be 20 migrants left.

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