A revived Hurricane Ian set its sights on the South Carolina coast on Friday and the historic city of Charleston, with forecasters predicting storm surge and flooding after the mega-storm caused catastrophic damage in Florida and left people trapped in their homes.
With the entire South Carolina coast under a hurricane warning, a steady stream of vehicles left Charleston on Thursday, with many likely heeding authorities’ warnings to search for more ground. raised. Storefronts were lined with sandbags to prevent high water levels in an area prone to flooding.
Along the Battery Area, at the southern end of the 350-year-old city’s peninsula, locals and tourists took selfies against a choppy backdrop of white caps in Charleston Harbor as palm trees swayed twisted in the wind in gusts.
With winds holding at 85 mph (140 kph), the National Hurricane Center’s 2 a.m. update on Friday placed Ian about 175 miles (285 km) southeast of Charleston and predicted a “life-threatening storm surge” and hurricane conditions along the Carolina coastal area later Friday.
The hurricane warning extended from the Savannah River to Cape Fear, with torrential rains likely to cross the Carolinas and southwestern Virginia, the center said.
An earlier forecast called for a 5-foot (1.5-meter) storm surge in coastal areas of Georgia and the Carolinas. Rainfall of up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) threatened flooding from South Carolina to Virginia.
In Florida, rescue teams piloted boats and waded through river streets on Thursday to save thousands of Floridians trapped amid flooded homes and buildings destroyed by Hurricane Ian.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said at least 700 rescues, mostly by air, were carried out Thursday involving the U.S. Coast Guard, National Guard and urban search and rescue teams.
Ian landed on Florida’s Gulf Coast on Wednesday as a monstrous Category 4 hurricane, one of the strongest storms to ever hit the United States. It flooded homes on both coasts of the state, cut off the only road access to a barrier island, destroyed a historic waterfront pier and knocked out power to 2.6 million homes and businesses in Florida, nearly a quarter of utility customers. Some 2.1 million of those customers remained in the dark days thereafter.
Hurricane Ian causes power outages across Florida
As Hurricane Ian makes landfall in Florida, power outages are expected to increase across the state. The Category 4 hurricane brought catastrophic winds and flooding to the state.
Climate change added at least 10% more rain to Hurricane Ian, according to a study prepared immediately after the storm, said its co-author, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab climatologist Michael Wehner.
At least four people have been confirmed dead in Florida, while three others are believed to have been killed in Cuba after the hurricane hit there on Tuesday.
In the Fort Myers area, the hurricane ripped homes off their flagstones and left them among the rubble. Businesses near the beach were completely razed, leaving twisted debris. Broken docks floated at odd angles alongside damaged boats. Fires were smoldering on land where houses once stood.
“I don’t know how anyone could have survived in there,” said William Goodison amid the wreckage of a mobile home park in Fort Myers Beach where he had lived for 11 years. Goodison said he was only alive because he survived the storm at his son’s home inland.
The hurricane tore through the park of about 60 homes, leaving many homes destroyed or mangled beyond repair, including Goodison’s home. Wading through waist-deep water, Goodison and his son rolled two trash cans containing what little he could salvage – a portable air conditioner, tools and a baseball bat.
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marcelo shared footage of the damage caused by Hurricane Ian.
The road leading to Fort Myers was littered with broken trees, boat trailers and other debris. Cars were left abandoned on the road, having stalled when the storm surge flooded their engines.
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said his office was struggling to respond to thousands of 911 calls in the Fort Myers area, but many roads and bridges were impassable.
Emergency crews sawed down fallen trees to reach stranded people. Many in the hardest hit areas were unable to call for help due to power and cellphone outages.
A piece of the Sanibel causeway fell into the sea, cutting off access to the barrier island where 6,300 people live.
Hours after weakening to a tropical storm as it crossed the Florida peninsula, Ian regained hurricane strength Thursday evening over the Atlantic. The National Hurricane Center predicted it would hit South Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane on Friday.
National Guard troops were positioned in South Carolina to help deal with the aftermath, including water rescues. And in Washington, President Joe Biden approved a state emergency declaration, a necessary step to accelerate federal recovery assistance once Ian passes.
President Joe Biden declared a major disaster in Florida early Thursday, opening federal funding to help recovery efforts after Hurricane Ian hit the state.
The storm was set to hit North Carolina later, forecasters said. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper urged residents to prepare for torrents of rain, high winds and potential power outages.
Visiting the state emergency operations center on Thursday, Cooper said up to 17.8 centimeters of rain could fall in some areas, with the potential for mountain landslides and tornadoes across the country. State.