Hurricane Ian heads for the Carolinas after slamming Florida
Meg Kinnard and Adriana Gomez Licon, The Associated Press
CHARLESTON, SC — A reinvigorated Hurricane Ian was racing toward the South Carolina coast and the historic city of Charleston on Friday, where meteorologists predict storm surge and flooding after the hurricane caused catastrophic damage in Florida and trapped people at home.
The entire South Carolina coast was under a hurricane warning. Thousands of people responded to authorities’ request to evacuate Charleston and a long line of vehicles formed on Friday. Traders tried to protect their establishments with sandbags in an area vulnerable to flooding.
Strong winds were already blowing in Charleston on Friday morning and heavy rain was falling on the city. The streets of the 350-year-old city were mostly deserted.
As of 8 a.m. Friday, Ian was generating sustained winds of 140 kilometers per hour and was about 175 kilometers southeast of Charleston, according to the United States National Hurricane Center, which also warned of a surge. potentially deadly storm.
The hurricane warning stretches from Savannah River to Cape Fear. Flooding is likely across the Carolinas and in southwestern Virginia, the Center said. Experts anticipate a storm surge of 2.1 meters in coastal areas and about twenty centimeters of rain.
In Florida, rescuers in boats and on foot attempt to rescue thousands of people trapped in flooded homes and buildings shattered by Ian.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said at least 700 rescue operations, mostly by air, were carried out Thursday by the Coast Guard, National Guard and city search and rescue teams.
Some two million customers remain without electricity.
Climate change added at least 10% more rain to Hurricane Ian, according to a study conducted immediately after the storm passed, said its co-author, climatologist Michael Wehner of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
At least six confirmed fatalities in Florida and three in Cuba.
In the Fort Myers area, the hurricane ripped houses from their foundations to deposit them further away. Shops near the beach were destroyed. Dislocated docks float at odd angles near half-submerged boats. Smoke billowed from sites where houses burned.
The road to Fort Myers was littered with broken trees, boat trailers and other debris. Cars were left in place when their engines were flooded by the storm surge.
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said her office is struggling to respond to thousands of 911 calls, but many roads and bridges are impassable.
Ian weakened to tropical storm status as it passed over the Florida Peninsula. It reverted to Category 1 hurricane status upon reaching the Atlantic, and it is as such that it is expected to hit South Carolina.
Members of the National Guard were deployed in this state to intervene after its passage. The hurricane is expected to hit North Carolina next, and Governor Roy Cooper has asked his fellow citizens to prepare for the worst.
Twenty inches of rain could fall across the state, he said, and landslides and tornadoes are possible.