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Many trapped in Florida as Ian heads towards South Carolina

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PUNTA GORDA, Fla. — Rescue crews piloted boats and waded by means of flooded streets Thursday to avoid wasting 1000’s of Floridians trapped after Hurricane Ian destroyed houses and companies and left tens of millions at the hours of darkness.

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The destruction started to return into focus a day after Ian made landfall in Florida as one of many strongest hurricanes ever to hit the U.S. The storm flooded houses on each of the state’s coasts, minimize off the one bridge to a barrier island, destroyed a historic waterfront pier and knocked out electrical energy to 2.67 million Florida houses and companies, practically 1 / 4 of utility prospects. Not less than one man was confirmed lifeless.

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“We’ve by no means seen storm surge of this magnitude,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis advised a information convention. “The quantity of water that’s been rising, and can seemingly proceed to rise as we speak even because the storm is passing, is mainly a 500-year flooding occasion.”

Although downgraded to a tropical storm by Thursday morning, the Nationwide Hurricane Heart mentioned storm surge and flooding rains remained a menace as Ian crept throughout the Florida peninsula and emerged within the Atlantic Ocean north of Cape Canaveral. Forecasters predicted Ian would regain some energy whereas turning northward.

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A flooded street is seen in downtown as Hurricane Ian makes landfall in southwestern Florida, in Fort Myers, Fla., Sept. 28, 2022.
A flooded avenue is seen in downtown as Hurricane Ian makes landfall in southwestern Florida, in Fort Myers, Fla., Sept. 28, 2022. Photograph by Marco Bello /REUTERS

A hurricane warning was issued for the South Carolina coast, the place the storm was anticipated to once more make landfall, having already hit Cuba and Florida.

Sheriffs in southwest Florida mentioned 911 centres had been inundated by 1000’s of stranded callers, some with life-threatening emergencies. The U.S. Coast Guard started rescue efforts hours earlier than dawn on barrier islands close to the place Ian struck, DeSantis mentioned. Greater than 800 members of federal city search and rescue groups had been additionally within the space.

Within the Orlando space, Orange County firefighters used boats to achieve individuals in a flooded neighbourhood. A photograph the division posted on Twitter confirmed one firefighter carrying somebody in his arms by means of knee-deep water. At an space nursing residence, sufferers had been carried on stretchers throughout floodwaters to a ready bus.

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Firefighters on boats and Nationwide Guard troopers in a tall truck rescued Joseph Agboona and his neighbours after water rose to the home windows in his Orlando residence.

“We we’re completely satisfied to get out,” mentioned Agboona, who grabbed two baggage of possessions, not understanding what shall be left when he ultimately returns. “It was very, very unhealthy.”

People walk along the beach looking at property damaged by Hurricane Ian in Bonita Springs, Fla., Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022.
Folks stroll alongside the seaside property broken by Hurricane Ian in Bonita Springs, Fla., Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022. Photograph by Sean Rayford /Getty Pictures

In Fort Myers, Valerie Bartley’s household spent determined hours Wednesday holding a eating room desk in opposition to their patio door, fearing the storm raging exterior “was tearing our home aside.”

“I used to be terrified,” Bartley mentioned. “What we heard was the shingles and particles from all the things within the neighbourhood hitting our home.”

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She mentioned her 4-year-old daughter grabbed her hand and mentioned: “I’m scared too, but it surely’s going to be OK.” The woman was proper. The storm ripped away patio screens and snapped a palm tree within the yard, Bartley mentioned, however left the roof intact and her household unhurt.

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Authorities confirmed no less than one Florida demise — a 72-year-old man in Deltona who fell right into a canal whereas utilizing a hose to empty his pool within the heavy rain, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Workplace mentioned. Two different storm deaths had been reported in Cuba.

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno mentioned his workplace was scrambling to answer 1000’s of 911 calls, however many roads and bridges in Fort Myers and the encompassing space had been impassable.

“It crushed us,” Marceno advised ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “We nonetheless can not entry most of the individuals which can be in want.”

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Emergency crews sawed by means of toppled bushes to achieve stranded individuals. Many within the hardest-hit areas had been unable to name for assist due to electrical and mobile outages.

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“Moveable towers are on the best way for cell service. Chances are high your family members do not need means to contact you,” mentioned the sheriff’s workplace in Collier County, which incorporates Naples. “We are able to let you know as daylight reveals the aftermath, it’s going to be a tough day.”

A piece of the Sanibel Causeway fell into the ocean, reducing off entry to the barrier island the place 6,300 individuals usually dwell. It was unknown what number of heeded orders to evacuate, however Charlotte County Emergency Administration Director Patrick Fuller expressed cautious optimism that worst-case eventualities may not have been realized.

No deaths or accidents have been confirmed within the county, and flyovers of barrier islands present “the integrity of the houses is much better than we anticipated,” Fuller mentioned.

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South of Sanibel Island, the historic beachfront pier in Naples was destroyed, with even the pilings beneath torn out, as towering waves crashed over the construction. “Proper now, there isn’t any pier,” mentioned Penny Taylor, a Collier County commissioner.

In Port Charlotte, a hospital’s emergency room flooded and fierce winds ripped away a part of the roof, sending water gushing into the intensive care unit. The sickest sufferers — some on ventilators — had been crowded into the center two flooring because the workers ready for storm victims to reach, mentioned Dr. Birgit Bodine of HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital.

The Florida Freeway Patrol shut down the Florida Turnpike within the Orlando space and mentioned the primary artery in the course of the state will stay closed till water subsides.

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Ian struck Florida as a monstrous Class 4 storm, with 150 mph (241 km/h) winds that tied it for the fifth-strongest hurricane ever to hit the U.S.

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Even after weakening, Ian’s tropical-storm power winds nonetheless reached 415 miles (667 kilometres) from its centre. Forecasters predicted the Atlantic waters would strengthen it to a Class 1 hurricane earlier than it makes landfall Friday in South Carolina.

The Nationwide Hurricane Heart warned storm surge of 6 ft (1.83 metres) or extra was potential from Daytona Seashore, Florida, to north of Charleston, South Carolina. Rainfall of as much as 8 inches (20.32 centimetres) threatened flooding within the Carolinas and Virginia.

“It doesn’t matter what the depth of the storm is. We’re nonetheless anticipating fairly a little bit of rainfall,” Robbie Berg, senior hurricane specialist with the Nationwide Hurricane Heart, mentioned in an interview with The Related Press.

The U.S. Coast Guard initiated a search and rescue mission for 23 individuals after a ship carrying Cuban migrants sank Wednesday in stormy climate east of Key West. It discovered three survivors, and 4 others swam to shore, the U.S. Border Patrol mentioned. Air crews continued to seek for presumably 20 remaining migrants.

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

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