Hurricane Ian strengthens and set to make landfall again – number of deaths in Florida is uncertain | US News
Hurricane Ian is gaining strength and heading for the Carolinas – with uncertainty over the number of deaths the storm has caused in Florida.
It was one of the strongest hurricanes ever to hit the United States – and emergency crews trying to reach the Floridians were stranded after Ian cut a devastating roadway across the state.
More than 2.6 million power outages have been reported, with officials warning of dangerous floodwaters. There is virtually no cell phone service in some areas, and internet connections are also affected.
Initial reports of ‘significant loss of life’ – Hurricane Ian . Update
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis did not confirm how many people were killed, but said: “We fully expect there will be a death rate from this storm.”
And President Joe Biden said: “The numbers are still unclear, but we are hearing early reports of what could cause significant loss of life.”
According to NBC News, at least 12 deaths are linked to Hurricane Ian in Florida to date.
A 72-year-old man has died after going outdoors during a storm to drain his swimming pool.
The sheriff of one of the hardest hit areas – Lee County – told US media that the death toll could be in the hundreds and he had received thousands of 911 calls.
“It crushed us,” Sheriff Carmine Marceno said. “We still can’t reach many of those in need.”
There are concerns that many people in the worst-affected areas have been unable to call for help because of power outages and mobile phone networks.
Witness: No one expected this storm to be so intense
Ian has now returned to the Atlantic Ocean but is expected to make landfall again at 2pm local time (7pm UK time) later today as a category one storm.
Forecasts suggest it will bring life-threatening flooding, high tides, strong winds and the potential for landslides and tornadoes to Georgia as well as North and South Carolina.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper is urging residents to take precautions, warning: “This storm is still dangerous.”
Storm warnings are in effect for hundreds of miles of coastline.
In South Carolina, the city of Charleston is particularly at risk. A report commissioned by local officials found that 90% of all residential properties are vulnerable to high tide flooding.
Mr. DeSantis called the damage in Florida “historic” – and disaster officials believe thousands of people could be displaced over the long term.
Walt Disney World and other tourist attractions in central Florida appear to have avoided heavy damage from Ian, but many properties on the state’s southwest coast – also a tourist hotspot – have been damaged. destroyed and faced a lengthy rebuilding process.
President Biden has declared a major disaster, freeing up federal funds to pay for measures like temporary housing for displaced people.
Ian is a category four storm with winds of up to 150 mph as it hit southwestern Florida on Wednesday, making it the fifth-strongest storm to make landfall in the United States.
At least 700 confirmed rescues have taken place across the state, with first responders going from door to door after Ian crashed.
Locals are being warned to be careful when using chainsaws and ladders – with emergency officials warning the number of “indirect deaths” during the cleanup could exceed the number of deaths caused by the storm itself. out.
Most schools in Florida are expected to reopen today or on Monday, and flights from Orlando Airport will resume operations in the coming hours.
Read more from Sky News:
Impressive before and after pictures show the scale of devastation
Residents describe escaping from the eye of the storm
Preliminary reports from extreme weather scientists show that human-caused climate change has increased Hurricane Ian’s rainfall by 10%.
A warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapor. “Climate change doesn’t cause hurricanes, but it does make it wetter,” said researcher Michael Wehner of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
MIT atmospheric scientist Kerry Emanuel added: “This business of very, very heavy rain is something we expect to see due to climate change.
“We’ll see more storms like Ian.”