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‘Deadliest Hurricane in Florida’s History’: Hundreds Believed Dead, Millions Left in Dark After Ian

Though the death toll presently remains unconfirmed, it is feared “hundreds” may have succumbed to the storm, which ripped through Florida on Wednesday night, leaving over 2.6 million people without power and stranding countless others waiting for rescue.

Damage is still being assessed across the Florida peninsula, where Hurricane Ian’s “relatively slow” speed allowed the storm to dump record amounts of rain, triggering multiple flash flood emergencies and river flooding.

Moving at roughly 8 miles an hour, the storm maintained hurricane strength for several hours, until it was demoted to tropical storm status (with 65 mph winds) just south of Orlando, which saw over a foot of rain. It has since been upgraded to a Category 1 storm.
At FEMA headquarters on Thursday, US President Biden officially declared Ian a major disaster and warned the storm could be the “deadliest” in Florida’s history. A representative from FEMA affirmed the agency is “supporting search and rescue efforts.”

“The numbers are still unclear, but we’re hearing early reports of what may be [a] substantial loss of life.”

On Good Morning America, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said fatalities were potentially “in the hundreds,” with “thousands” of people still waiting to be rescued.

According to Maceno, his office has received “thousands” of 911 calls from people needing rescue in Lee County, which includes Cape Coral and Fort Myers, but given the extent of the storm’s damage, roadways and bridges were still impassable.

“It crushed us,” Marceno said. “We still cannot access many of the people that are in need.”

The US Coast Guard also began attempting rescues on Florida’s barrier islands on Thursday, according to a statement made by Gov. Ron DeSantis during a press briefing.

“The Coast Guard had people who were in their attics and got saved off their rooftops,” DeSantis said. “We’ve never seen storm surge of this magnitude … The amount of water that’s been rising, and will likely continue to rise today even as the storm is passing, is basically a 500-year flooding event.”

As of 3 p.m. EDT on Thursday, Ian had knocked out power to over 2.6 million customers in Florida – approximately 24% of the state’s customers – according to local outage maps.
DeSantis also told reporters that the entirety of Lee and Charlotte counties were without power and would require entirely rebuilt infrastructure.

The president intends to visit Florida to meet with first responders once conditions allow.

Georgia and South Carolina Brace for Second Landfall

The US National Hurricane Center says Ian’s maximum sustained winds increased Thursday to 75 mph. It was centered about 240 miles south of Charleston, South Carolina, and moving northeast at 10 mph – a slightly faster pace than Florida saw on Wednesday.
The storm is projected to make landfall once again Friday morning near Charleston, prompting a hurricane warning for the state’s entire coast.

The storm’s slow pace heightens the risk of heavy rainfall, and according to the National Weather Service office in Charleston, some areas could see a surge of up to 7 feet.

“If you haven’t yet made plans for every contingency, this afternoon is the time to do so,” Gov. Henry McMaster said on Thursday, declaring a state of emergency while omitting evacuation orders and letting individual districts decide whether to close schools.

“We think that the analysis that we’ve made with the National Weather Service and also watching what’s happening in Florida indicates that this is not a situation where we need to have evacuations.”

The state’s coast was bumped from “hurricane watch” to hurricane “warning” on Thursday afternoon.

“While we will not see the full force of Hurricane Ian the way Florida did, we could see high winds, rain, flash flooding and even tornadoes,” warned South Carolina Emergency Management Director Kim Stenson.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp followed suit, declaring a state of emergency that went into effect at 7 a.m. on Thursday, freeing up resources for local governments within the storm’s impact area, which is expected to see upwards of 6 inches of rain.

Staying ahead of the beat, the governors of North Carolina and Virginia have also declared states of emergency.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. The deadliest hurricane in Florida was the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane.
    That storm killed 2500-3000 people in just two hours when the 15′-high levee around Lake Okeechobee broke and flooded hundreds of square miles. This occurred on a Sunday night, 16 September 1928.
    Those killed were mostly migrant farm workers from the Bahamas.
    And, at that time, the area was very sparsely populated, and human skeletons were plowed-up for years afterwards in the southeastern farmland of Lake Okeechobee.
    The horror of what has yet to be discovered with Ian (the death toll) may equal the 1928 death toll and Hurricane Katrina’s 1836+ deaths.
    Urban and City Planners in Southwest Florida were warned by the Seminole, Miccosukee and Cherokee Tribes NOT to build in that quadrant of southwest Florida.
    They knew the hazards, just as the Maori warned the Pakeha Settlers NOT to build where Christchurch is today. The advice was arrogantly ignored by those ‘in the know’ or who considered themselves to be society’s ‘betters’…! We have seen the results…
    Miami went thru a bad Cat 4 Hurricane in 1926 which actually was the seed of the Great Depression of the 1930’s, and in 1992 Hurricane Andrew devastated the southeastern portion of Florida just 20 miles south of Miami, turning northern-built homes which were not hurricane standard to matchsticks!
    In the last 50 years, Florida has sunk by two (2) feet above seal level. Miami now floods on a regular basis with wind tides coming on a King Tide.
    Proof; FAA issued Sectional Charts from 1972 showing an average of 16′ above sea level, as compared to the now 14’ above sea level.
    The demands on the water table of Florida due to an unsustainable population has caused the land to sink, and is still doing so.
    Another case in point; most central Florida cities survive hurricanes with minimal impact, but coastal towns & cities have horrific damage from the storm surge, and living in sub-standard ‘mobile homes’ which fly apart in Cat 2 winds.
    Property Developers don’t care who lives in the storm surge areas, and neither do their paid-off / bribed ‘Public Officials…as long as they can make their money and then flee back ‘up north’, they’re happy with no mindful conscience whatsoever as to what they have left behind; sub-standard housing and land that floods!
    Most people who were born, raised and educated in coastal Florida have all moved north into the interior of the Sate, or have left Florida entirely due to the natural and man-made hazards (hurricanes, sinkholes, crime, leaking nuclear plants, gangs, etc…)

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