At least 77 people have been confirmed dead after Hurricane Ian hit the US – with rescuers desperately searching for survivors amid the rubble of flooded homes.
Remnants of one of the most powerful and costly hurricanes in American history are now heading north, with authorities in Florida and South Carolina remaining to assess the damage.
Ian has been likened to an “A-bomb” and around 10,000 people have yet to be found, although authorities believe many are likely in shelters or without electricity.
According to the American Red Cross, more than 1,300 disaster workers are assisting with relief efforts across five states.
Of those killed, 73 were in Florida – most from drowning. However, the storm also took its toll and an elderly couple lost their lives after the oxygen machine stopped working due to a power outage.
Four more extreme weather-related deaths have been reported in North Carolina – including two deaths in a road crash during the storm.
Hurricane Ian’s coastal winds and surges have terrorized millions for much of the week – and although it has now been slightly reduced to a tornado, officials warn the storm remains hazardous.
“Dangerous” conditions are still forecast throughout this weekend for large swaths of the east coast – including New York, New Jersey and Washington DC.
Back in Florida, a major cleanup effort is currently underway, and the latest figures show more than 1.1 million residents are still without electricity and WiFi.
Governor Ron DeSantis said SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has agreed to provide the company’s Starlink satellite internet service to all those without a connection trying to find help or reunite with loved ones.
Celebrities are also starting to donate to disaster relief funds.
American soccer star Tom Brady, who currently plays for the Florida-based Tampa Bay Buccaneers, tweeted that he would be contributing to the Florida Disaster Fund, and urged other NFL players to do the same.
‘I want to sit in a corner and cry’
Anthony Rivera, 25, described climbing through the window of his Fort Myers ground-floor apartment during a storm to carry his grandmother and girlfriend to the first floor.
As they rushed out of the high water, the high tide swept away a boat right next to his apartment.
“It was the scariest thing in the world because I couldn’t stop the boat,” he said. “I’m not a superhero.”
Other distraught residents waded through knee-deep water, scooping up possessions from their flooded homes and loading them into rafts and canoes.
“I want to sit in the corner and cry. I don’t know what else to do,” Stevie Scuderi said after perusing her nearly destroyed Fort Myers home.
On Friday, Ian crashed into the banks of the Georgetown River, north of the historic South Carolina city of Charleston, with wind speeds of 85mph.
The storm washed away parts of four piers along the coast, including two connecting the popular tourist town of Myrtle Beach. As of Saturday, more than 63,000 homes and businesses in the state remained without power.
Chairperson Joe Biden passed a declaration of emergency for the state, authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts in all of its 100 counties as well as for the Eastern Cherokee Indians – a federally recognized Indian tribe based in western North Carolina.
Meanwhile, in Cuba, people took to the streets in Havana to protest continuously lost power since it was directly attacked five days ago.
It has now been announced that a new weather system is heading for the Pacific Northwest coast of Mexico.
The US National Hurricane Center said Orlene had strengthened to a hurricane and was heading for a landfall expected early next week with winds of 75 mph.