Hurricane Ian heads for Washington and New York

Death toll in Florida reaches 87

By: News Desk
Published: 02:58 PM, 4 Oct, 2022
Hurricane Ian heads for Washington and New York
Caption: Destroyed homes and inundated businesses on Pine Island, Florida, as seen from a US Army National Guard helicopter.–WP
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At least 87 people have been confirmed dead after Hurricane Ian struck the US - with rescuers desperately searching for survivors among the ruins of flooded homes.

The remnants of one of the strongest and costliest hurricanes in American history is now headed north, with authorities in Florida and South Carolina left assessing the damage.

Ian has been likened to an "A-bomb" and about 10,000 people remain unaccounted for, although the authorities believe many are likely to be in shelters or without power.

It comes as President Joe Biden and the first lady confirmed their plans to travel to Florida and Puerto Rico next week to survey the damage and meet officials and residents after the hurricane battered both regions.

According to the American Red Cross, more than 1,300 disaster workers are supporting relief efforts across five states.

Of those killed, 83 were in Florida - mostly from drowning. But the storm has also had knock-on effects, and an elderly couple lost their lives after oxygen machines stopped working because of a power outage.

A further four fatalities connected to the severe weather were reported in North Carolina - including two who died in a road crash during the storm.

Hurricane Ian's winds and coastal surges have terrorised millions of people for most of the week - and although it has now been slightly downgraded to a cyclone, officials have warned the storm is still dangerous.

The National Hurricane Centre said the storm was now dissipating across southern Virginia. Still, it left flooding and power outages across the Carolinas as the extent of the damage came into view.

"Treacherous" conditions are still forecast throughout this weekend for large swathes of the east coast - including New York, New Jersey and Washington DC.

Back in Florida, a massive clean-up effort is now under way, and the latest figures suggest that more than 1.1 million residents are still without power and WiFi.

Governor Ron DeSantis said SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk had agreed to provide the company's satellite internet service Starlink to all those without connectivity trying to get help or reunite with loved ones.

Celebrities are also beginning to donate to a disaster relief fund.

American football star Tom Brady, who now plays for the Florida-based Tampa Bay Buccaneers, tweeted that he would be contributing to the Florida Disaster Fund, and urged other NFL players to do the same.