FORT MYERS, Fla./CHARLESTON, SC, Sept 30 (Reuters) – Hurricane Ian hit South Carolina on Friday afternoon, making another landfall after a deadly march through Florida that swept away homes, blocked thousands of people and killed an unknown number of people.
A reborn Ian landed at 2:05 p.m. (6:05 p.m. GMT) near Georgetown, a riverside town about 60 miles (97 km) north of historic Charleston, with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph (140 kph) in as a category. 1 hurricane, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
Roads were flooded with water and clogged with trees while a number of piers were damaged as the storm left more than 400,000 homes and businesses in the Carolinas without power, according to tracking website PowerOutage. us.
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Ian, now classified as a post-tropical cyclone, will bring heavy rain and potential flash flooding to parts of North and South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia through at least Saturday morning as it is weakening, the NHC said.
The storm hit Florida’s Gulf Coast on Wednesday as one of the most powerful storms to ever hit the continental United States, then carved a destructive path across the state, turning beach towns into disaster areas with flooding. and catastrophic winds.
There have been reports of at least 21 deaths in Florida, Kevin Guthrie, director of the state’s Division of Emergency Management, said during an early morning briefing. He pointed out that some of this information remains unconfirmed.
Georgetown, with a population of around 10,000, is a tourist destination known for its oak-lined streets and more than 50 sites on the National Register of Historic Places. The city was heavily damaged by Hurricane Hugo in 1989.
Even before Ian arrived, Charleston was seeing torrential rains. Video clips on social media showed several centimeters of water on some streets in the port city, which is particularly prone to flooding.
A report commissioned by the city and released in November 2020 found that approximately 90% of all residential properties were vulnerable to storm surge flooding.
Len Cappe, 68, a retired property manager who moved to Charleston two years ago, said Ian was the first big storm he encountered.
“It’s the wind, it shakes you,” Cappe said. “It’s blowing furiously.”
With the tidal Wando River a block away, Cappe said he was worried about his home and was glued to his television, monitoring updates.
On Pawleys Island, just north of Georgetown, the pier had collapsed into the ocean and the town hall was surrounded by water, according to videos and posts posted online by the local police department.
“THE HOUSES ESCAPE”
Two days after Ian first hit Florida, the extent of the damage there was becoming increasingly apparent.
Some 10,000 people were missing, Guthrie said, but many of them were likely in shelters or without power. About 1.6 million Florida homes and businesses were left without power Friday, according to PowerOutage.us.
“You have houses that are disappearing,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a Friday briefing in Lee County, which suffered extensive damage.
President Joe Biden, speaking at the White House, said the hurricane would likely rank among the worst in US history.
“We are only just beginning to see the scale of this destruction,” he said.
Fort Myers, a town near where the eye of the storm first landed, suffered a heavy blow, with many homes destroyed. Offshore, Sanibel Island, a popular destination for vacationers and retirees, was cut off when a causeway was rendered impassable.
Hundreds of beleaguered Fort Myers residents lined up at a Home Depot on the east side of town on Friday, hoping to buy gas cans, generators, bottled water and more stationery. The line stretched as long as a football field.
Rita Chambers, a 70-year-old Jamaican-born retiree who has lived in Fort Myers since 1998, said Ian was unlike any storm she had ever seen.
“And I’ve been in hurricanes since I was a kid!” said Chambers, who moved to New York as a teenager.
She watched the storm rip the porch off her home in Cape Coral. Despite everything, she does not think of leaving Florida.
“I’d rather shovel sand from my home in Florida than shovel snow in New York,” she said. “If you live in paradise, you have to endure a hurricane.”
At a mobile home park on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, trailers had been pushed together by wind and water. A boat, the “Dreamin”, lay on its side at a local marina, where another boat had come to rest in a tree.
Deborah Grool, 70, lost her home and vehicles in the storm.
“It’s devastating because it’s not just homes, it’s businesses,” said Grool, a real estate agent who has lived on the island for 45 years.
Her daughter, Katy Bonkowski, who joined her mother to survey the damage, had expressed concern about her parents and sister’s decision to stay on the island during the storm.
“Make no mistake about a hurricane,” Bonkowski said. “I wish my parents were gone. I wish my sister was gone. But they wanted to stay.”
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Reporting by Brad Brooks in Fort Myers and Jonathan Drake in Charleston; Additional reporting by Rich McKay, Brendan O’Brien, Sharon Bernstein, Frank McGurty, Kanishka Singh, Jeff Mason and Scott DiSavino; Written by Joseph Ax and Costas Pitas; Editing by Cynthia Osterman
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