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Ian was expected to make landfall Friday afternoon on the South Carolina coast after developing into a Category 1 hurricane Thursday evening. It will then move inland across the state and into North Carolina d here on Saturday.
Trees have toppled, roads have been flooded and more than 69,000 homes have already lost power in South Carolina, officials said at a news conference on Friday. The state’s five shelters had 15% capacity before landing.
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said no deaths have yet been reported in the state, “but life-threatening conditions still exist.” He urged residents to stay away from flooded roads.
“It’s not as bad as it could have been. A lot of prayers have been answered,” he said. “…But we are not off the hook.”
Meanwhile, officials in Florida were assessing damage and continuing search and rescue efforts after Ian hit the Fort Myers area on Wednesday as a Category 4 storm. There were 21 fatalities, but the director of Florida Emergency Management Kevin Guthrie said Friday only one has been confirmed as a result of the storm. Authorities were still evaluating the cause of the other 20 deaths.
There had been 700,000 rescues as of Friday morning, officials said. Meanwhile, 1.9 million customers were still without power statewide and Lee County was without water after a main outage.
“It was truly a Herculean effort,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday morning as crews worked to restore power, assess damage and rescue residents.
The senses. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott sent a joint letter Friday to the chairs of the Senate Appropriations Committee seeking funding to “provide much-needed aid 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 changed forever.”
►In South Carolina, President Joe Biden has declared a state of emergency and ordered federal aid, according to the White House.
►Hurricane Ian losses so far are between $25 billion and $40 billion, credit agency Fitch Ratings reported on Thursday.
►Tampa and Orlando airports were scheduled to reopen on Friday, while Fort Myers airport in southwest Florida remained closed on Friday. More than 1,660 flights were canceled Friday due to the storm, according to FlightAware.
Florida death toll expected to rise
The destruction left by Ian has made it difficult to accurately assess the loss of life, but there are already reports of 21 deaths, officials said Friday morning.
State officials said only one of those deaths, in Polk County, had been confirmed as a result of the storm, and authorities were still evaluating the cause of the other 20 deaths: eight were in Polk County. Collier and 12 in Charlotte County, where a local official said the only operational hospital is no longer accepting new patients due to a lack of capacity.
But local officials in those areas were also reporting deaths:
- Sanibel Island authorities reported two deaths on Thursday.
- In Lee County, which includes the island of Cayo Costa near Cape Coral where the storm made landfall, at least five deaths have been confirmed, Sheriff Carmine Marceno told CNN.
- To Deltoneabout 30 miles northeast of Orlando, a 72-year-old man died after falling into a canal while using a hose to drain his pool in the pouring rain, the county sheriff’s office said. Volusa.
- In Sarasota County, the sheriff’s office reported two hurricane-related deaths after a 94-year-old man and an 80-year-old woman died when their oxygen machines lost power during the storm.
Hurricane Ian tracking
After moving slowly across Florida, Hurricane Ian gained strength over the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday before wreaking havoc in South Carolina, Georgia and other east coast states. . Check here for the latest updates on the strength of the storm and where it’s headed next.
As of 11 a.m. Friday, Ian was about 60 miles east-southeast of Charleston and moving north at 14 mph with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, the hurricane center said.
In Charleston, powerful gusts of wind and rain as Ian approached
Heavy rains and tropical storm conditions had already reached the coasts of Georgia and the Carolinas Friday morning, where storm surges and life-threatening hurricane conditions were expected to develop. Rainfall of up to 8 inches threatened flooding from South Carolina to Virginia, the National Weather Service reported.
Widespread power outages were reported in Charleston as high winds whipped trees and power lines.
Meteorologists expected conditions to steadily deteriorate in Charleston on Friday morning. Traffic had cleared the streets, cutting off the usually bustling morning commute before the storm.
Some areas had already received between 2 and 3 inches of rain as of 8 a.m., and “quite a lot of flooding” had begun flooding downtown Charleston as heavy rain fell amid the rising tide, a said Steven Taylor, chief meteorologist at the National Weather Service. in Charleston.
Wind gusts were seen along the Charleston County coast at 50 to 60 mph and the area could see 4 to 7 feet of flooding on Friday, Taylor said. “We recently had a gust of wind reaching 66 mph at the south end of Folly Beach and winds continue to increase in the area,” Taylor told USA TODAY.
The center of Ian is expected to move northeast of Charleston by Friday afternoon, and forecasters expect the storm to weaken as it moves toward North Carolina.
Island Forecast: Overview of Kiawah, Hilton Head and Pawleys
Kiawah Island: Located about 26 miles south of Charleston, the island could see up to 1.5 inches of rain throughout Friday until Ian moves north, said NWS Charleston meteorologist Douglas Berry. . Gusts ranged from 35 to 45 mph Friday morning, but he said the risk of flooding would be worse in Charleston and all along the coast.
The island’s location on the west side of Ian and an offshore flow – when air moves from land to sea – could lower Kiawah Island’s tides, causing possible minor windage problems. coastal flooding until Friday afternoon. There are no current flood advisories for the island.
Hilton Head Island: Tropical storm conditions were expected along the island, located about 97 miles southwest of Charleston. The popular tourist destination could see up to 2 inches of rain Friday, with hurricane conditions possible. A high surf advisory, flood watch, and hurricane and storm surge warnings were in effect Friday morning.
Pawleys Island: Gusts of up to 100 mph could be in store for Pawleys Island, located 73 miles north of Charleston, said NWS Wilmington meteorologist Jordan Baker. The island is subject to both storm surge and hurricane warnings. “The wind is definitely a big issue this time, and we’re watching the surge,” Baker told USA TODAY. “This area and could see flooding up to 4 to 7 feet.”
Yolande Welch — 95, with a bandaged leg and an injured shoulder — sat at the Port Sanibel marina with a Sanibel firefighter’s hand on her shoulder.
Firefighters and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation officers had rescued her from Sanibel earlier that day. Welch heard a loud noise in his living room on Wednesday as one of his glass doors shattered and threatened to sever. She hurt her shoulder trying to stand in the doorway.
“It was hell,” Welch said. “I’ve been through five hurricanes, and this is the worst.”
Fort Lauderdale resident Christopher Gyles has vacationed on Captiva Island with his family since 1991. Many of his 40-member family fled to Fort Lauderdale, but some, including Gyles, stayed. Now he said that was a bad idea.
Gyles said they saw debris being sucked into the gulf. It was not until Thursday morning that they were rescued by boat.
Eric and Vera Siefert, longtime Sanibel and Captiva residents in their 60s, also said staying was a dangerous mistake. Four of the coconut trees on their property were downed by strong winds. As the storm surge reached about 10 feet, water began flooding their home.
“We were scared,” Eric said. “We were crawling on furniture and we thought that would be the end of it.”
– Lisa Nellessen Savage, The News Press
Contributors: John Bacon, Thao Nguyen, Jorge Ortiz, Doyle Rice, Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY; The Associated Press