Text updates from the storm after landfall in Florida

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Hundreds of people were feared dead on Thursday and thousands of Floridians desperately sought help as the historically powerful Hurricane Ian hit the state with heavy rain and high winds, one of the most severe storms strengths in the history of the United States.

The center of the hurricane made landfall as a Category 4 monster Wednesday afternoon near Cayo Costa, a barrier island just west of heavily populated Fort Myers in Lee County.

“While I don’t have confirmed numbers, I know for sure the deaths are in the hundreds,” Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said on ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America.” . “There are thousands of people waiting to be rescued.”

Pressed on the numbers, Marceno said “so far confirmed in the hundreds. This means we are responding to events, drownings. this assessment.”

Emergency crews sawed down fallen trees to reach people in flooded homes. “If the line is busy, keep trying,” Marceno said in a Facebook post early Thursday.

More than 2.5 million homes and businesses in Florida were without power as of Thursday.

Ian had weakened into a tropical storm, but was expected to continue roaring across the state for most of the day before heading into the Atlantic. mph shy of a Category 5 hurricane, the strongest on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale.

National Hurricane Center meteorologists said Ian would then turn northwest and strengthen to hurricane status before making landfall in South Carolina again.

The storm had already hit Cuba, killing two people and destroying the country’s power grid. No injuries or deaths were reported in Florida.

Latest developments:

►The US Coast Guard was still searching for more than 20 Cuban migrants after their boat sank in stormy weather near the Florida Keys.

► Ian’s strength on landing tied it for the fifth strongest hurricane measured by wind speed to hit the United States. It’s tied with five other hurricanes that have reached 150 mph – two in Florida, two in Louisiana and one in Texas.

► Residents have described terror after a tornado ripped through a condominium complex near Delray Beach, ripping roofs off and overturning vehicles. “I felt things blowing over my head and my face,” resident Jim Travis said. “When I opened the door, my apartment was destroyed.” Read more.

Quick links:

GET TEXT UPDATES: Sign up here for text updates on Hurricane Ian.

HURRICANE IAN TRACKING: Where is Ian going? See the map.

IAN FORECAST: Ian will likely spend days dumping rain on Florida. Here are the prospects.

More than 2.5 million Floridians without electricity

More than 2.5 million homes and businesses across Florida were without power as of early Thursday, according to PowerOutage.us. Most homes and businesses in 12 counties were without power.

Charlotte County Sheriff Bull Prummell, just north of Fort Myers, announced a curfew between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. “for vital purposes”, saying violators could face misdemeanor charges. second degree.

“I am enacting this curfew as a way to protect people and property in Charlotte County,” Prummell said.

Hospital roof partially ripped off, fire station flooded: Damage in Florida

Parts of Florida’s Gulf Coast suffered significant damage as Hurricane Ian swept through the state, damaging buildings and homes and inundating communities.

Water poured through the streets of Naples, creating giant waves that made roads impassable and flooded the city’s fire department. Video posted by Naples Fire-Rescue showed crews working to recover equipment and fire trucks from more than 3 feet of water. In Cape Coral, about 30 miles off the coast, photos showed a sailboat stranded in the middle of a road near homes.

Nearby Fort Myers experienced intense storm surge flooding coastal communities and the area around WINK News, a local CBS affiliate. Videos showed water reaching the windshields of cars in the studio parking lot and some of the storm surge that infiltrates the building.

Further north along the coast, an intense storm surge flooded the lower level emergency room of a hospital in Port Charlotte, while high winds ripped off part of the roof of its intensive care unit, according to a doctor who works there.

Water gushed from above onto the ICU, forcing staff to evacuate the hospital’s sickest patients – some of whom were on ventilators – to other floors, said Dr Birgit Bodine of the HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital. Staff members used towels and plastic bins to try and mop up the soggy mess.

Officials warned that flash flooding was possible across the state, which could lead to pollution and an overflow of radioactive waste.

What is the wind speed scale?: Break down the wind speed scale for hurricanes.

How Does Hurricane Ian Compare?: Category 5 hurricanes are rare. Ian’s punch the worst the United States has seen?

USA Today

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