Floods expected for days as hurricane death toll rises in US

At least 65 people are said to have been killed by Ian in Florida alone, and four people have been killed in storm-related incidents in North Carolina, officials say. Ian also cut power to hundreds of thousands in the Carolinas from Friday through early Saturday.

The biggest impacts remain in Florida, where river flooding could continue far inland into next week. warn forecasters.

In western Florida’s Arcadia, Saturday morning local time — tens of miles inland — rivers still covered part of the city like a lake, obscuring a state highway and swallowing everything but the roof of a gas station, a CNN report said. plow there. Near Sarasota, officers had to evacuate a neighborhood early Saturday due to a possible levee breach due to concerns about flooding.

An aerial photo taken on Friday shows the only entrance to the Matlacha neighborhood devastated in the wake of Hurricane Ian in Fort Myers, Florida. (Ricardo Arduengo/AFP/Getty Images)
Gusts, blowing over King Street, twist umbrellas during Hurricane Ian in Charleston, South Carolina, on Friday, September 30, 2022
Gusts, blowing over King Street, twist umbrellas during Hurricane Ian in Charleston, South Carolina, on Friday, September 30, 2022 (Grace Beahm Alford/The Post and Courier)

Online cameras showed seawater-filling neighborhoods in Garden City down to calf level. As Ian passed through South Carolina on his way to North Carolina on Friday night, he slipped from a hurricane to a post-tropical cyclone.

Although the storm system has long passed over Florida, new problems still presented themselves Friday night (Saturday AEST). A 22-kilometer stretch of Interstate 75 was closed in both directions in the Port Charlotte area due to the amount of water in the Myakka River.

This drone image shows displaced and damaged homes two days after the passage of Hurricane Ian, in Fort Myers Beach, Florida, Friday, September 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

In hard-hit Florida’s Fort Myers Beach, where a raging storm surge swept away homes and left behind little but rubble, shocked survivors come to terms with what they’ve seen and mourn those they’ve lost.

Kevin Behen, who rode out the storm on the second floor of a Fort Myers Beach building, told CNN Friday night that he knew two men who died while trying to help their wife escape a house that began to flood.

“These guys pushed their wives out of the windows to where there was a tree,” Behen said. “They just looked at their wives and said, ‘We can’t take it anymore, we love you. Bye,’ and that was it.”

About 90 percent of the island “is all but gone,” Fort Myers Beach Town Councilman Dan Allers said Friday.

“Unless you have a high-rise apartment or a newer concrete house built to the same standards today, your house is pretty much gone.”

Many of the dead were drownings, including that of a 68-year-old woman who was swept into the ocean by a wave. A 67-year-old man, waiting to be rescued, died after falling into rising water at his home, authorities said.

Other storm fatalities included a 22-year-old woman who died after an ATV rollover from a road wash and a 71-year-old man who fell from a roof while putting on rain shutters. An 80-year-old woman and a 94-year-old man who depended on oxygen machines also died after the equipment stopped working during a power outage.

University of Central Florida students use an inflatable mattress to evacuate an apartment complex near campus that was completely flooded by the rain from Hurricane Ian, Friday, September 30, 2022, in Orlando, Florida
University of Central Florida students use an inflatable mattress to evacuate an apartment complex near campus that was completely flooded by the rain from Hurricane Ian, Friday, September 30, 2022, in Orlando, Florida (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Three more people died in Cuba earlier in the week as the storm raged north. The death toll is expected to rise significantly once emergency services get a chance to search many of the worst-hit areas.

Rescue teams drove boats and waded through Florida river streets after the storm to rescue thousands of people trapped amid flooded homes and shattered buildings .

Hurricane Ian likely caused “more than $100 billion” in damage, including $63 billion ($98 billion) in privately insured losses, according to disaster modeling firm Karen Clark & ​​Company, which regularly issues estimates of sudden catastrophes. confirmed, that would make Ian at least the fourth costliest hurricane in US history.

Kevin Guthrie, director of Florida’s Department of Emergency Management, said first responders have focused so far 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.

A road is completely filled with a large pile of rubble from destroyed homes and businesses on the beach two days after the passage of Hurricane Ian, in Fort Myers Beach, Florida, Friday, September 30, 2022 (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

“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.

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.

Friends, seeing each other for the first time since Hurricane Ian's passage, stop to hug, as they walk and bike around the island to collect belongings from what's left of their homes, in Fort Myers Beach, Florida, Friday September 30, 2022
Friends, seeing each other for the first time since Hurricane Ian’s passage, stop to hug, as they walk and bike around the island to collect belongings from what’s left of their homes, in Fort Myers Beach, Florida, Friday September 30, 2022 (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

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

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.

Satellite images show damage level

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. Satellite images show the extent of damage.

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.

This combination satellite image from Planet Labs shows the Sanibel Causeway, Florida, left, taken July 4, 2021, and causeway damage taken on Friday, September 30, 2022, after Hurricane Ian passed through the area.
This combination satellite image from Planet Labs shows the Sanibel Causeway, Florida, left, taken July 4, 2021, and causeway damage taken on Friday, September 30, 2022, after Hurricane Ian passed through the area. (Planet Labs via AP)

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.

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

Ian’s heavy rain and 40 mph winds were near the North Carolina-Virginia state line at 11:00 a.m. Saturday (1:00 a.m. Sunday AEST) after crossing North Carolina on Friday night (Saturday AEST). Governor Roy Cooper warned residents to be vigilant as up to 20.3cm of rain could fall in some areas.

“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.”

An Estero Island resident carries empty jerry cans as he walks to get off the island in search of gas, two days after the passage of Hurricane Ian, in Fort Myers Beach, Florida, Friday, September 30, 2022 (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

“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.”

Not only those directly involved suffer

The floods in North Port show that Ian’s impact is not limited to the beaches and tourist towns. The storm’s heavy rainfall has spilled over into suburban and inland towns that are not part of the hurricane warnings.

It’s the rising rivers that do it because of the deluge of the hurricane, which continues to wreak havoc long after the wind has passed. And it leads to rescue efforts not unlike those on the coasts.

Floods were reported all over the center of the state: around Orlando and its theme parks, south to Kissimmee, east to Daytona Beach, Arcadia’s livestock. People near rivers were deeply affected.

A car crashed into water in North Port, Florida, on Friday, September 30, 2022.
A car crashed into water in North Port, Florida, on Friday, September 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Adriana Gomez Licon)

Near North Port, the Florida Department of Transportation closed a stretch of Interstate 75 in both directions late Friday because of the flooded Myakka River.

Dozens of National Guardsmen arrived in North Port earlier Friday — about 140 miles south of Tampa — to accelerate efforts begun Wednesday by firefighters from other states and provinces. And city officials were busy opening an evacuation center at a high school.

Just west of North Port, the National Weather Service predicted that the Myakka River would reach a record flood stage at 3.8 meters on Friday and then rise a little higher before retreating.

The nearby Peace River would reach an even higher point: almost 7.3 meters, which is about double the previous record. It runs through mostly rural areas, most notably the cattle town of Arcadia, which hosts a well-known Florida rodeo.

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