Street. PETERSBURG, Florida – Hurricane Ian, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the United States, swept through southwest Florida on Wednesday, turning streets into rivers, knocking out power for 1.8 million people and threatening other catastrophic damage inland.
The Sahelian Sheriff’s Office reported that it had received numerous calls from people trapped in flooded homes. Desperate people posted on Facebook and other social sites, pleading to save themselves or their loved ones. Some videos showed rubble-covered water pouring into the eaves of houses.
The hurricane’s center made landfall near Cayo Costa, a barrier island west of densely populated Fort Myers. As it approached, the water was drained from Tampa Bay.
Mark Pritchett climbed outside his Venice home as the hurricane was surfacing ashore from the Gulf of Mexico, about 35 miles (55 kilometers) to the south. He described it as “terrifying”.
“I literally couldn’t stand the wind,” Pritchett wrote in a text message. “Rain shoots like needles. My streets are a river. The limbs and trees are down. And the worst is yet to come.”
The Category 4 storm hit the coast with 150 mph (241 km/h) winds and pushed a wall of accumulating storms during its slow march over the bay. More than 1.8 million Florida homes and businesses were without power, according to PowerOutage.us. Almost every home and business in three counties was without electricity.
The storm had previously swept through Cuba, killing two people and destroying the country’s power grid.
About 2.5 million people were ordered to evacuate southwest Florida before Ian struck, but by law no one can be forced to flee.
News presenters at WINK TV station in Fort Myers had to abandon their usual offices and continue covering the storm from another location in their newsroom because water was flowing into their building near the Caloosahatchee River.
Although it is expected to weaken to a tropical storm as it travels inland at around 9 mph (14 km/h), winds of the strength of Hurricane Ian are likely to be felt strongly in central Florida. Hours after making landfall, the highest wind speed dropped to 105 mph (170 km/h), making it a Category 2 hurricane. However, storms of up to 6 feet (2 meters) were expected on the other side of the state, in northeastern Florida.
Sheriff Paul Brommel, of Charlotte County, north of Fort Myers, declared a curfew between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. “for life-saving purposes,” saying violators could face charges of second-degree misdemeanour.
“I am enacting this curfew as a way to protect people and property in Charlotte Broomell County,” he said.
Jackson Boone left his home near the Gulf Coast and gathered at his law office in Venice with the staff and their pets. Boone at one point opened the door to howling wind and rain blowing sideways.
“We are seeing tree damage, horizontal rain, and very strong winds,” Boone said by phone. “We have an oak tree over 50 years old that has been overturned.”
In Naples, the first floor of the fire station was inundated with about 3 feet (1 meter) of water and firefighters worked to rescue equipment from a firetruck stuck outside the garage in deeper water, a video released by the Naples Fire Department showed. Naples is in Collier County, where the mayor’s department on Facebook reported that it was receiving a “large number of calls for people trapped by water in their homes” and that it would prioritize reaching people “reporting life-threatening medical emergencies in deep water”.
Ian’s landfall strength tied this hurricane to the fifth most powerful hurricane when measured at wind speed to hit the United States Among other storms was Hurricane Charlie, which hit roughly the same spot on the Florida coast in August 2004, killing 10 people and causing $14 billion. ruin.
Ian made landfall more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Tampa and Saint Petersburg, avoiding the densely populated Tampa Bay area from its first direct hit by a major hurricane since 1921.
Flash floods were possible all over Florida. The risks include the polluting remains of Florida’s phosphate fertilizer mining industry, and more than a billion tons of slightly radioactive waste found in huge ponds that can overflow in torrential rain.
The federal government sent 300 ambulances with medical teams and was ready to transport 3.7 million meals and 3.5 million liters of water once the storm passed.
“We’ll be there to help you clean up and rebuild, to help Florida get moving again,” President Joe Biden said Wednesday. “And we will be there every step of the way. This is my absolute commitment to the people of Florida.”
The governors of Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina proactively declared a state of emergency. Forecasters expected Ian to head toward those states as a tropical storm, likely to inundate more heavy rain this weekend, after crossing Florida.
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