Many are stranded in Florida as Ian heads to South Carolina


PUNTA GORDA, Fla. (AP) — Rescue crews waded by flooded streets and used boats Thursday to rescue individuals trapped after Hurricane Ian destroyed a swath of Florida and introduced rain that continued to fall.

The destruction got here into focus a day after Ian made landfall in Florida as one of many strongest hurricanes ever to hit america. The storm flooded properties on either side of the state, reduce the one bridge to the barrier island, destroyed a historic waterfront pier and knocked out energy to 2.5 million Florida properties and companies. At the least one man was confirmed useless.

“We have by no means seen a storm this large,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis mentioned at a information convention. “The quantity of water that has risen and can possible proceed to rise as we speak, even because the storm passes, is actually a 500-year flood occasion.”

Though downgraded to a tropical storm Thursday morning, the Nationwide Hurricane Heart mentioned storm surge and flooding rain remained a risk as Ian crossed the Florida peninsula and exited the Atlantic Ocean. Forecasters predicted a flip north towards South Carolina, and a hurricane warning was issued for the state’s coast.

Sheriffs in southwest Florida mentioned 911 facilities have been flooded with 1000’s of stranded callers, in some instances life-threatening emergencies. The U.S. Coast Guard started rescue efforts round daybreak on the barrier islands close to the place the sailor ran aground, DeSantis mentioned. Fireplace companies additionally labored in flooded areas.

Within the Orlando space, Orange County firefighters used boats to achieve individuals in flooded neighborhoods. A photograph posted to Twitter by the division confirmed one firefighter carrying somebody knee-high in his arms. At a county nursing house surrounded by water, sufferers on stretchers have been carried throughout floodwaters to a ready bus.

In Fort Myers, a number of miles west of the barrier island the place Ian washed ashore, Valerie Bartley’s household spent frantic hours Wednesday holding the eating room desk towards their patio door, fearing the storm exterior would “tear our home aside.”

“I used to be scared,” Bartley mentioned. “What we heard was shingles and particles from throughout the world hitting our home.”

She mentioned her 4-year-old daughter grabbed her hand and mentioned, “I am scared too, however it will be okay.” The woman was proper. The storm tore down patio screens and felled a palm tree within the yard, Bartley mentioned, however left the roof intact and her household unhurt.

Authorities have confirmed at the least one Florida demise, a 72-year-old Deltona man who fell right into a drain whereas utilizing a hose to empty his pool throughout heavy rain, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Workplace mentioned. Two extra storm deaths have been reported in Cuba after Ian earlier hit the island nation.

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marcheno mentioned his workplace is making an attempt to reply to 1000’s of 911 calls, however many roads and bridges in and round Fort Myers stay impassable.

“It blew us away.” Marceno informed ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “We nonetheless cannot get to lots of people who want it.”

Emergency crews sawed by downed bushes to achieve the trapped individuals. Many within the worst-hit areas have been unable to name for assist throughout widespread energy and cellphone outages.

“Moveable towers are on the way in which to cell service. Your family members might not be capable to contact you,” mentioned the sheriff’s workplace in Collier County, which incorporates Naples. “We will let you know that daylight is revealing the results, it will be a tricky day.”

A part of the Sanibel Causeway fell into the ocean, chopping off entry to the barrier island, which is generally house to six,300 individuals. It is not identified what number of had heeded evacuation orders, however Charlotte County Emergency Administration Director Patrick Fuller expressed cautious optimism that the worst-case eventualities might not have materialized.

No deaths or accidents have been confirmed within the space, and barrier island overpasses point out “the integrity of the properties is a lot better than we anticipated,” Fuller mentioned.

South of Sanibel Island, the historic Naples Seaside Pier was destroyed and even the pilings beneath it have been uprooted as sturdy waves crashed over the construction. “There isn’t a dock at the moment,” Collier County Commissioner Penny Taylor mentioned.

In Port Charlotte, a hospital emergency room flooded and powerful winds tore off a part of the roof, sending water down into the intensive care unit. The sickest sufferers — some on ventilators — have been crammed into the center two flooring as employees ready for the arrival of storm victims, Dr. Birgitta Bodine of HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital.

The Florida Freeway Patrol closed the Florida Turnpike within the Orlando space and mentioned a serious artery in the course of the state will stay closed till the water recedes.

Ian hit Florida as a large Class 4 storm with 150 mph (241 km/h) winds, making it the fifth strongest hurricane ever to hit america.

Even after weakening, Tropical Storm Ian’s drive winds nonetheless reached 415 miles (667 kilometers) from its middle. The hurricane middle warned {that a} storm surge of 1.83 meters was attainable from Daytona Seaside, Florida, north of Charleston, South Carolina. And rainfall quantities of as much as 8 inches (20.32 centimeters) threatened flooding within the Carolinas and Virginia.

“It does not matter what the depth of the storm is. We’re nonetheless anticipating fairly a little bit of rainfall,” Robbie Berg, senior hurricane specialist on the Nationwide Hurricane Heart, informed The Related Press.

The US Coast Guard launched a search and rescue mission for 23 individuals after a ship carrying Cuban migrants sank in stormy climate east of Key West on Wednesday. Three survivors have been discovered there, whereas 4 others swam ashore, the US Border Patrol mentioned. Air crews continued to seek for maybe 20 remaining migrants.


Related Press contributors embody Cody Jackson in Tampa, Florida; Freida Frisaro in Miami; Mike Schneider Orlando, Florida; Seth Borenstein and Aamer Madhani in Washington; Bobby Kane Calvan in New York; and Andrew Wells-Huggins in Columbus, Ohio.

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