Officials confirmed at least one storm death in Florida — a 72-year-old man from Deltona who fell into a canal while using a hose to remove his bridge during heavy rain, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said. Two people died after Ian hit Cuba.

Marceno said that while he lacked any details, he believed the death toll would be in the “hundreds”. Governor. Ron DeSantis later said the toll was unconfirmed and was likely an estimate based on 911 calls.

A stoplight pole blown over by Hurricane Ian’s winds in downtown Orlando, Fla. Reposed on Thursday at Orange Avenue here. Willie J. Allen Jr./Associated Press
A man walks through debris on a street after Hurricane Ian in Punta Gorda, Florida on Thursday. By Ricardo Arduengo/AFP Getty Images

President Joe Biden formally issued a disaster declaration Thursday, and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Dean Criswell said the agency was supporting search and rescue efforts. The U.S. Coast Guard began rescue operations on southwest Florida’s barrier islands early Thursday, as the winds eased, DeSantis said.

“The Coast Guard had people who were in their attics and survived off their roofs,” DeSantis said. “We’ve never seen a storm surge of this magnitude … The water levels are rising and will continue to rise even as the storm passes, it’s basically a 500-year flood event.”

A section of the Sanibel Causeway fell into the sea, closing off access to the barrier island, home to 6,300 people. It was not known how many mandatory evacuation orders were followed before the storm hit the island.

South of Sanibel, huge waves destroyed the historic beach pier in Naples and also tore away the lower dunes. “Right now, there’s no pier,” said Penny Taylor, a commissioner in Collier County, which includes Naples.

Emergency crews reached flooded homes through downed trees, but with no power and virtually no cell service, many people were unable to call for help when the surge filled their living rooms.

Portable towers for cell service are on the way. Your loved ones may not have the ability to contact you,” the sheriff’s office in Collier County, which includes Naples, said. “We can tell you as daylight shows the aftermath, it’s going to be a tough day.”

A staff member stands in a flooded hallway at HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital in Port Charlotte, Fla.Associated Press

In Fort Myers, Valerie Bartley was terrified as her family spent desperate hours holding the dining room table in front of their patio door as debris plowed into their home.

“We just assumed it was tearing our house apart,” she said. As the storm raged outside, she said her 4-year-old daughter held her hand and said: “I’m scared too, but it’s going to be okay.”

Ian made landfall Wednesday near Cayo Costa, a barrier island just west of heavily populated Fort Myers, as a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 150 mph (241 kph), the fifth-strongest hurricane, as measured by wind speed. Attack on the US

Ian’s center came ashore more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Tampa and St. Petersburg, the first direct hit by a major hurricane since 1921. Water receded near Tampa Bay, then rose again.

The National Hurricane Center said the hurricane was expected to regain strength after emerging over Atlantic waters near the Ian Kennedy Space Center, with South Carolina in sight of another US landfall.

Meanwhile, parts of the state remained under 10 feet of water Thursday morning, with “devastating waves continuing along the Southwest Florida coast from Englewood to Bonita Beach, including Charlotte Harbor,” the center said.

In Port Charlotte, a hospital emergency room was flooded, and strong winds tore off part of the roof and flooded the intensive care unit. The sickest patients — some on ventilators — crowded the middle two floors as staff prepared to bring in storm victims, said Dr. HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital. Birgit Bodine said.

The Florida Highway Patrol closed the Florida Turnpike in the Orlando area due to significant flooding and said the main artery in the middle of the state will remain closed until the water recedes.

A firefighter carries gear into water from the storm surge of Hurricane Ian on Sept. 28 in Naples, Fla.Associated Press

911 lines have been flooded with calls from people trapped in flooded homes or worried relatives. Pleas were also posted on social media sites, with some videos showing debris-covered water cascading down the side of their homes.

Brittany Heller, a journalist in Pittsburgh, contacted rescuers about her mother in north Fort Myers, whose home was under 5 feet (1.5 m) of water.

“We don’t know when the water will recede. We don’t know how they’re going to get away, their cars are totaled,” Heller said. “Her only way out is on a boat.”

Another boat carrying Cuban migrants sank in stormy weather east of Key West on Wednesday.

The US Coast Guard launched a search and rescue operation for 23 people and managed to find three survivors about two miles (three kilometers) south of the Florida Keys, officials said. Four other Cubans swam off Stock Island, east of Key West, the US Border Patrol said. The Air Force continued to search for the remaining 20 migrants.

The storm had earlier killed two people in Cuba and brought down the country’s power grid.

More than 2.6 million Florida homes and businesses were left without power, according to the PowerOutage.us site. Most of the homes and businesses in 12 parishes were without electricity.

Motorists travel across the John Ringling Causeway as Hurricane Ian churns south of Sarasota, Fla., Wednesday. Sean Rayford

Sheriff Bull Prummel of Charlotte County, just north of Fort Myers, announced the curfew between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. for “life-saving purposes,” saying violators would face second-degree misdemeanor charges.

“I am enacting this curfew as a means to protect the people and property of Charlotte County,” Prummel said.

As of 8 a.m. Thursday, the storm was about 40 miles (70 km) east of Orlando and 10 miles (15 kilometers) southwest of Cape Canaveral, with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph (100 kmph) and moving toward the Cape at 8 mph. 13 kmh), the center said.

A foot (30 centimeters) of rain is forecast for parts of Northeast Florida, coastal Georgia and the Lowcountry of South Carolina. As much as 6 inches (15 centimeters) could fall in southern Virginia as the storm moves inland across the Carolinas, and the center said landslides were possible in the southern Appalachian Mountains.

The governors of South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia declared states of emergency.

___

Associated Press contributors include Cristina Mesquita in Havana, Cuba; Cody Jackson and Adriana Gomez Licon of Tampa, Florida; Frieda Frisaro in Miami; Anthony Izaguirre from Tallahassee, Florida; Mike Schneider in Orlando, Florida; Seth Borenstein and Amer Madhani in Washington; Bobby Kaina Calvan in New York; Andrew Welsh-Huggins from Columbus, Ohio; Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama and Alina Hartunian in Phoenix, Arizona.

More on this developing story:

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.