Ian makes landfall again, now in South Carolina
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Ian has dropped from a hurricane to a post-tropical cyclone as it moved across South Carolina.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Ian, which carved a swath of destruction across Florida earlier this week, had maximum sustained winds of 70 mph on Friday afternoon.
Ian hit Florida’s Gulf Coast as a powerful Category 4 hurricane with 150 mph winds Wednesday, flooding homes and leaving nearly 2.7 million people without power.
Earlier Friday, a revived Hurricane Ian battered coastal South Carolina, ripping apart piers and filling neighborhoods with calf-high water, after the deadly storm caused catastrophic damage in Florida and trapped thousands in their homes.
Ian’s center came ashore near Georgetown with much weaker winds than when it crossed Florida’s Gulf Coast on Wednesday as one of the strongest storms to ever hit the U.S.
Sheets of rain whipped trees and power lines and left many areas on Charleston’s downtown peninsula under water. Four piers along the coast, including two at Myrtle Beach, collapsed into the churning waves and washed away. Online cameras showed seawater filling neighborhoods in Garden City to calf level.
Hours after weakening to a tropical storm while crossing the Florida peninsula, Ian regained strength Thursday evening over the Atlantic. Ian made landfall in South Carolina with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph. When it hit Florida’s Gulf Coast on Wednesday, it was a powerful Category 4 hurricane with 150 mph.
After the heaviest of the rainfall blew through Charleston, Will Shalosky was checking out a large elm tree in front of his house that had fallen across his downtown street. He noted the damage could have been much worse.
“If this tree has fallen a different way, it would be in our house,” Shalosky said. “It’s pretty scary, pretty jarring.”
In North Carolina, heavy rain bands and winds crept into the state Friday afternoon. Gov. Roy Cooper warned residents to be vigilant, given that up to 8 inches of rain could fall in some areas, with high winds.
“Hurricane Ian is at our door. Expect drenching rain and sustained heavy winds over most of our state,” Cooper said. “Our message today is simple: Be smart and be safe.”
Ian left a broad swath of destruction in Florida, flooding areas on both of its coasts, tearing homes from their slabs, demolishing beachfront businesses and leaving more than 2 million people without power. At least nine people were confirmed dead in the U.S. — a number that was expected to increase as officials confirm more deaths and search for people.
Rescue crews piloted boats and waded through riverine streets Thursday to save thousands of people trapped amid flooded homes and shattered buildings.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday that crews had gone door-to-door to over 3,000 homes in the hardest-hit areas.
“There’s really been a Herculean effort,” he said during a news conference in Tallahassee.
Climate change added at least 10% more rain to Hurricane Ian, according to a study prepared immediately after the storm, said its co-author, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab climate scientist Michael Wehner.
Among those killed were an 80-year-old woman and a 94-year-old man who relied on oxygen machines that stopped working amid power outages, as well as a a 67-year-old man who was waiting to be rescued after falling into rising water inside his home, authorities said.
Orlando residents returned to flooded homes Friday, rolling up their pants to wade through muddy, knee-high water in their streets. Friends of Ramon Rodriguez dropped off ice, bottled water and hot coffee at the entrance to his subdivision, where 10 of the 50 homes were flooded and the road looked like a lake. He had no power or food at his house, and his car was trapped by the water.
“There’s water everywhere,” Rodriguez said. “The situation here is pretty bad.”
University of Central Florida students living at an apartment complex near the Orlando campus arrived to retrieve possessions from their waterlogged units.
Deandra Smith, a nursing student, was asleep when others evacuated and stayed in her third-floor apartment with her dog. Other students helped get her to dry land Friday by pushing her through the flooded parking lot on a pontoon. She wasn’t sure if she should go back to her parents’ home in South Florida or find a shelter so she can still attend classes. “I’m still trying to figure it out,” she said.
In Washington, President Joe Biden said he was directing “every possible action be taken to save lives and get help to survivors.”
“It’s going to take months, years to rebuild,” Biden said.
“I just want the people of Florida to know, we see what you’re going through and we’re with you.”