Storm hits South Carolina; Florida damage
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Ian started trekking through the Carolinas Friday, hammering the coast of South Carolina with flooding as it made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane, then taking aim at North Carolina as a post-tropical cyclone.
The second landfall on the U.S. mainland came as Floridians surveyed the damage days after the storm battered the state. Ian is expected to wreak havoc on numerous states along the East Coast as it moves inland over the weekend.
In South Carolina, trees have been toppled, roads flooded and over 69,000 households had already lost power, officials said at a Friday news conference. That number had risen to over 180,000 customers without power immediately after landfall, according to poweroutage.us. The state’s five shelters were at 15% capacity ahead of landfall.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said no deaths have been reported in the state yet, “but there’s still life-threatening conditions.” He urged residents to stay off flooded roadways.
“This is not as bad as it could have been. A lot of prayers have been answered,” he said. “…But we’re not out of the woods.”
Ian is the first landfalling hurricane in South Carolina since Matthew in 2016, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach.
Officials in Florida, meanwhile, were assessing the damage and continuing search and rescue efforts after Ian slammed into the Fort Myers area on Wednesday as a Category 4 storm.
Local officials said they were sorting through potentially dozens of deaths to determine if they were storm related. On Friday, the Associated Press reported the death toll was at least 27.
Ian left a broad swath of destruction in Florida, flooding areas on both of its coasts, tearing homes from their slabs, demolishing beachfront businesses and leaving more than 2 million people without power.
Even though the storm system has long passed over Florida, new issues were still presenting themselves Friday night. A 14-mile stretch of Interstate 75 was closed in both directions in the Port Charlotte area because of the amount of water in the Myakka River, the Associated Press reported.
There had been 700 rescues as of Friday morning, officials said. Meanwhile, 1.5 million customers were still without power across the state, and Lee County was without water after a main break.
“There’s been really a Herculean effort,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday morning.
Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott sent a joint letter Friday to the Senate Appropriations Committee chairs to secure funding to “provide much needed assistance to Florida.”
“Hurricane Ian will be remembered and studied as one of the most devastating hurricanes to hit the United States,” they wrote. “Communities across Florida have been completely destroyed, and lives have been forever changed.”
►In South Carolina, President Joe Biden declared an emergency and ordered federal assistance, according to the White House.
►Losses from Hurricane Ian so far range between $25 billion and $40 billion, the Fitch Ratings credit agency reported Thursday.
►At least nine people were rescued after a boat with more than 20 migrants sank in storm weather near the Florida Keys. On Friday, the Coast Guard said one person’s body was recovered near Ocean Edge Marina.
►Airports in Tampa and Orlando were Tampa International Airport and Orlando International Airport are expected to reopen Friday, while Fort Myers Airport in southwest Florida remained closed Friday. More than 1,660 flights were canceled Friday due to the storm in the U.S., according to FlightAware.
►Volusia County Community Information Director Kevin Captain said at a news conference Friday afternoon that the Daytona International Speedway has been flooded by Hurricane Ian. “Even our iconic speedway is underwater,” he said.
Contributing: John Bacon, Thao Nguyen, Jorge Ortiz, Doyle Rice, Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY; The Associated Press