‘Deadliest’ hurricane wreaks havoc on Florida, regains steam in Atlantic
Hundreds of boats, trees, houses toppled: Thousands cry for rescue: Biden fears ‘substantial loss of life’ in Florida
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Hurricane Ian unleashed "historic" devastation in Florida, leaving a yet unknown number of dead in its wake, officials said Thursday, as the storm regrouped in the Atlantic on a path toward the Carolinas.
The storm, one of the most powerful ever to hit the United States, left hundreds of people in need of rescue, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said, while warning it was still too early to get a clear picture of how many people had died.
"We absolutely expect to have mortality from this hurricane," he said at a press conference Thursday evening.
Absolutely heartbreaking footage captured by our surge probe of catastrophic storm surge washing away homes. I have never seen anything like this. We have now left the area as hoards of emergency crew have arrived. #HurricaneIan— Max Olson (@MesoMax919) September 29, 2022
FULL VIDEO - https://t.co/DOJJn2VThV pic.twitter.com/iPBUyVKw4s
The numbers "are still unclear, but we're hearing reports of what may be substantial loss of life," he added.
DeSantis said concrete information about casualty numbers could be expected "in the coming days."
Drone footage shows the aftermath of Hurricane Ian at a marina in Fort Myers, Florida.— CNN (@CNN) September 30, 2022
“Everything is pretty much wiped out,” says Anvar Ruziev, who captured the video. https://t.co/QT02b41osK pic.twitter.com/UllLlCT7nf
Dozens of boats moored in the marina were sunk while others were tossed on to downtown streets.
Trees were toppled by the howling winds of up to 150 miles per hour (240 kilometers per hour).
Earlier on Thursday, DeSantis described the destruction in the southwest part of the state as a "500-year flood event."
"We've never seen storm surge of this magnitude," he said.
Footage emerging from Florida in the wake of major hurricane Ian is absolutely heartbreaking. The scale of the devastation is hard to fathom.— Scott Duncan (@ScottDuncanWX) September 29, 2022
Aerial assessment of Lee County, Southwest Florida by @SheriffLeeFL pic.twitter.com/cToGK7uGyA
- 'Horrifying' -
Tom Johnson, 54, of Fort Myers had a front row seat to the destruction from his apartment on the second floor of a two-story harbourside building.
"I was scared because I've never been through that," Johnson told AFP. "It was just the most horrifying sounds with debris flying everywhere, doors flying off."
His home was undamaged but one of his neighbors, Janelle Thil, 42, was not so lucky and had to ask other residents for help after her ground floor apartment began to flood.
"They got my dogs and then I jumped out of the window and swam," Thil said.
Storm waters burst through the door of a Naples, Florida condominium as Hurricane Ian approached the city on Wednesday. The video was captured by a resident who went to the doorway after hearing a fire alarm to see if he and his wife needed to evacuate. pic.twitter.com/0aUhQz9u6I— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 29, 2022
When Thil returned to her apartment after the storm passed, she said she opened the door and "had to wait about five minutes for all the floodwaters to come out."
"I loved my home," she said. "But I'm alive and that's what matters."
According to DeSantis, the area was also dealing with a water main break, which officials were "working to trouble shoot."
There are sharks on the highways in Florida. Unreal. pic.twitter.com/sHcgfkrc8o— Barry (@BarryOnHere) September 28, 2022
A US Coast Guard official said helicopter crews were plucking people from the rooftops of homes inundated by floodwaters.
- Ian regaining strength -
Ian was downgraded to a tropical storm overnight but the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said it regained Category 1 hurricane strength on Thursday afternoon and issued a hurricane warning for the entire coast of South Carolina and part of North Carolina.
Biden declared a "major disaster" in Florida, a move that frees up federal funding for storm relief.
Much of Florida's southwest coast was plunged into darkness after the storm wiped out power.
Ambulance convoy on I75 today heading to southern Florida to assist with Hurricane Ian efforts. The most ambulances I have ever seen in a convoy. I am@heading north to cover the next landfall expected in South Carolina #hurricaneian #hurricane #ian #florida #stormchasing pic.twitter.com/HLifB44gBg— Dan Whittaker (@severeforecast) September 29, 2022
Tracking website poweroutage.us said 2.3 million homes and businesses remained without electricity in the so-called Sunshine State late Thursday.
Two barrier islands near Fort Myers, Pine Island and Sanibel Island, popular with vacationers, were essentially cut off when the storm damaged causeways to the mainland.
Sanibel Island got "hit with really biblical storm surge," DeSantis said, and rescuers were using boats and helicopters to evacuate residents who rode out the storm.
This Florida woman went out for a run with her dog through shin-deep floodwaters in Orlando, even as officials have warned against going outdoors in Ian's wake amid ongoing dangers. pic.twitter.com/ZZyFcCuaoZ— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 29, 2022
Airports stopped all commercial flights, and cruise ship companies delayed or canceled voyages.
At least two people died in Pinar del Rio province, state media in the country of more than 11 million reported.
Human activity has caused life-threatening climate change resulting in more severe weather events across the globe.