Hurricane Ian updates: Storm downgrades to cyclone after South Carolina landfall; death toll rises in Florida

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CHARLESTON, SC — The death toll in Florida from Hurricane Ian rose to 33 Friday afternoon, ABC News reports, as Florida authorities confirmed several drownings and other fatalities Friday afternoon.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said the dead included a 22-year-old woman who was ejected from an ATV rollover Friday over a Manatee County washdown and a 71-year-old man who died of head injuries when he fell from a roof. while installing rain shutters on Wednesday. Many of the other deaths were drownings, including a 68-year-old woman who was swept into the ocean by a wave.

Three more people died in Cuba as the storm moved north earlier this week. The death toll is expected to rise significantly if emergency services are given a chance to search many areas hardest hit by the storm.

Ian made landfall just after 2 p.m. Friday as a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 85 mph near Georgetown, South Carolina. It was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone hours later.

Click here for live radar and the latest forecast on Ian’s path.

PHOTOS: Ghostly aerial photos show the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Fort Myers, Sanibel Island

Damaged homes and debris are shown in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, September 29, 2022, in Fort Myers Beach, Florida.

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

A revived Hurricane Ian ravaged the South Carolina coast Friday, ripping apart piers and filling neighborhoods with calf-high water after the deadly storm caused catastrophic damage in Florida and trapped thousands in their homes.

The center of Ian made landfall near Georgetown with much weaker winds than when it crossed Florida’s Gulf Coast on Wednesday as one of the strongest storms to ever hit the US. As it moved through South Carolina, Ian fell from a hurricane to a post-tropical cyclone.

Sheets of rain hit trees and power lines, flooding many areas of the peninsula in downtown Charleston. Four piers along the coast, including two at Myrtle Beach, plunged into the churning waves and washed away. Online cameras showed seawater-filling neighborhoods in Garden City down to calf level.

Ian left a wide swath of devastation in Florida, flooding areas on both coasts, ripping homes from their slabs, wrecking beachside businesses and leaving more than 2 million people without power. At least nine deaths have been confirmed in the US — a number that is expected to increase as officials confirm more deaths and search for people.

Rescue teams operated boats and waded through rivers on Thursday to rescue thousands of people trapped amid flooded homes and destroyed buildings.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said on Friday that the crew had gone door-to-door to more than 3,000 homes in the worst-hit areas.

“A really huge effort has been put in,” he said at a news conference in Tallahassee.

The dead included an 80-year-old woman and a 94-year-old man who were dependent on oxygen machines that stopped working during a power outage, as well as a 67-year-old man waiting to be rescued and in rising water at his home, the authorities said. authorities.

Officials fear the death toll could rise significantly given the vast area inundated by the storm.

Kevin Guthrie, director of Florida’s Department of Emergency Management, said responders have so far focused on “rushed” searches, focusing on rescues and initial assessments, which will be followed by two additional waves of searches. First responders who come across possible remains leave them without confirming, he said Friday, describing the case of a submerged house as an example.

“The water was above the roof, right, but we had a Coast Guard rescue swimmer swim in it and he was able to identify that it appeared to be human remains. We don’t know exactly how many,” Guthrie said.

Desperate to locate and rescue their loved ones, social media users shared phone numbers, addresses and photos of their relatives and friends online for anyone to check on them.

MORE: Chunk of Sanibel Causeway falls into sea during Ian, cutting off Florida island home to 6.3K

A damaged causeway to Sanibel Island can be seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, September 29, 2022, near Sanibel Island, Florida.

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Orlando residents returned to flooded homes on Friday and rolled up their pants to wade through muddy, knee-high water in their streets. Friends of Ramon Rodriguez dropped ice, bottled water and hot coffee at the entrance to his subsection, where 10 of the 50 houses were flooded and the road looked like a lake. He had no electricity or food in his house and his car was stuck in the water.

“There’s water everywhere,” Rodriguez said. “The situation here is pretty bad.”

University of Central Florida students living in an apartment complex near the Orlando campus arrived to collect belongings from their swampy units.

Deandra Smith, a nursing student, was asleep when others evacuated and stayed in her third-floor apartment with her dog. Other students helped her onto dry land on Friday by pushing her on a pontoon through the flooded parking lot. She wasn’t sure if she should go back to her parents’ house in South Florida or find a place to stay so she could take classes. “I’m still trying to figure it out,” she said.

RELATED: Hurricane Ian leaves a trail of destruction in Florida, with estimates of billions in damage

The devastating storm surge destroyed many older homes on the barrier island of Sanibel, Florida, and dug fissures in the sand dunes. Higher apartment buildings were intact, but with the lower floor blown out. There were trees and power poles everywhere.

Municipal rescuers, private teams and the Coast Guard used boats and helicopters on Friday to evacuate residents who stayed before the storm and were then cut off from the mainland when a causeway collapsed. Volunteers going to the island on watercraft escorted an elderly couple to an area where Coast Guard rescuers took them aboard a helicopter.

Hours after weakening to a tropical storm while crossing the Florida peninsula, Ian regained strength over the Atlantic on Thursday night. Ian made landfall in South Carolina with maximum sustained winds of 140 km/h. When it hit Florida’s Gulf Coast on Wednesday, it was a powerful Category 4 hurricane traveling at 150mph.

After the heaviest rain swept through Charleston, Will Shalosky examined a large elm outside his house that had fallen on his downtown street. He noted that the damage could have been much greater.

RELATED: Hurricane Ian Could Cause $65 Billion in Damage

“If this tree fell any other way, it would be in our house,” Shalosky said. “It’s pretty scary, pretty shocking.”

In North Carolina, heavy rain tires and winds crept into the state Friday afternoon. Governor Roy Cooper warned residents to be vigilant as up to 20.3 centimeters of rain can fall in some areas in high winds.

“Hurricane Ian is on our doorstep. Expect dripping rain and sustained heavy winds over most of our state,” Cooper said. “Our message today is simple: be smart and be safe.”

In Washington, President Joe Biden said he “directed every possible measure to save lives and get help to survivors.”

“It’s going to take months, years to rebuild,” Biden said.

“I just want the people of Florida to know that we see what you’re going through and that we’re with you.”

____

Gomez Licon reported from Punta Gorda, Florida; Associated Press contributors include Terry Spencer and Tim Reynolds in Fort Myers, Florida; Cody Jackson in Tampa, Florida; Freida Frisaro in Miami; Mike Schneider in Orlando, Florida; Seth Borenstein in Washington; and Bobby Caina Calvan in New York.

ABC News contributed to this report

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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