Live updates: Hurricane Ian hits Florida and heads north

The latest on Hurricane Ian:

SANIBEL, Fla. – The death toll in the United States from Hurricane Ian has risen to a total of four after an official said late Thursday that two people had been confirmed dead on a hard-hit barrier island on the west coast of Florida.

Sanibel City Manager Dana Souza said the deaths were confirmed by firefighters, but provided no further details. A local medical examiner’s office said it could not comment and that all details of the deaths would have to come from the sheriff’s office.

In addition to the two Sanibel residents, a 38-year-old Lake County man died Wednesday in a car accident after his vehicle aquaplaned, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Medical examiners determined his death was related to the storm.

A 72-year-old man from Deltona was also confirmed dead on Thursday. Volusia County Sheriff’s Office officials said the man went out to drain his pool and fell into a ditch. He was later found dead.

———

KEY DEVELOPMENTS:

– Ian regains hurricane strength as he heads for South Carolina

– Many are trapped in Florida as Ian heads to South Carolina

— Florida hospitals are evacuating hundreds of patients

– Search for migrants after the sinking of a boat off the Florida Keys

— Cuba begins to turn on the lights

– Find more AP coverage here: https://apnews.com/hub/hurricanes

———

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

NORTH PORT, Fla. – Rescuers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, other states and counties were racing against time as the sun was about to set Thursday in North Port, to help stranded families in their own homes surrounded by streets that had turned into canals.

The city was one of several cities in Florida where rescues were underway as Hurricane Ian continued to track north toward Georgia and the Carolinas.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a Thursday night news conference that there have been 700 confirmed rescues statewide as a result of the storm. “Some of the damage was almost indescribable,” he said.

Earlier in the day, DeSantis described an ongoing effort to airlift people stranded on Sanibel Island after the storm destroyed the only bridge to barrier island outside of Fort Myers. He said the state would also send additional boats to the area for rescue operations.

‘Sanibel is destruction,’ he said, adding ‘it was hit by a truly biblical storm surge, and it blew away roads, it blew away structures that weren’t new and able to withstand to that.”

DeSantis said as of 6 p.m. Thursday, more than 2.6 million people remained without power, including southwest Florida where Ian made landfall.

———

FLAGLER BEACH, Fla. – The pier at Flagler Beach on Florida’s east coast suffered major damage when Hurricane Ian brought in waves that shattered much of the wooden structure. Residents captured videos and photos of the destruction Thursday afternoon as the waters rose and crashed over the pier, leaving debris on the shore.

Flagler Sheriff Rick Staly told News4JAX on Thursday that he doesn’t believe the pier — which was damaged by Tropical Storm Isaias in 2020, as well as Hurricane Matthew in 2016 — would survive the impact of the storm.

Authorities have advised residents to avoid the pier for safety reasons.

———

ENGLEWOOD, Fla. — Christine Bomlitz, of Las Vegas, was eager to join her mother, Shirley Affolter, an 84-year-old resident of a retirement community just north of where Hurricane Ian made landfall.

She had no way of contacting her mother, who had lost her cell phone before the storm. Then his landline went down. Affolter was supposed to have left with other residents as part of an escape plan but was never picked up. So she squats down. It was too late to catch him.

Bomlitz grew distraught over the hours and as Ian’s ferocity increased. Then morning came, but still no word. Frantic, she published a call for help on social networks.

On Thursday afternoon, a Good Samaritan had waded through chest-high floodwaters in her mother’s neighborhood to do a wellness check.

“I’m grateful for this stranger,” she says, “a complete stranger. People are amazing.

Bomlitz said she and others were trying to organize a boat rescue.

———

COLUMBIA, SC — Officials are warning residents of South Carolina that Hurricane Ian will be a problem for much of the state on Friday.

The storm is expected to make landfall noon Friday as a Category 1 hurricane. But the storm is so large that gusty winds, heavy rains and storm surges will arrive hours before.

Along the coast, a storm surge of 4 to 7 feet is expected, rivaling the problems created by hurricanes over the past decade. If Ian lands as a hurricane, it would be the first hurricane to hit the state since Matthew in 2016.

National Guard troops are positioned to help deal with the aftermath, including water rescues and road crews will be ready to clear the roads.

Thursday afternoon saw a steady stream of vehicles exiting Charleston on Interstate 26, with only a few heading into town.

Governor Henry McMaster did not issue an evacuation, but he said that doesn’t mean the storm isn’t dangerous.

“We know we can handle this if we use our heads and follow the rules,” McMaster said.

———

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Lee Health announced Thursday that it is evacuating all of its facilities in Lee County, where Hurricane Ian first made landfall in Florida.

President and CEO Dr. Larry Antonucci said in a video posted online that health system structures and facilities were in good condition, but infrastructure was stretched when it came to health. water and electricity. Generators were being used at some facilities, but three of the system’s four hospitals were without water, Antonucci said.

“We cannot run a health system and a hospital without running water. It’s essential to what we do,” said Antonucci. “Not only from a patient care perspective, but also from a fire protection perspective.”

Lee Health is working with the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration, as well as state and local emergency operations management agencies, to arrange for the evacuation of patients to other hospitals outside of the Lee County, officials said.

———

RALEIGH, North Carolina – North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper urged residents to be prepared for heavy rain, high winds and potential power outages as the remnants of Hurricane Ian cross the State shortly after the storm will likely make landfall again in South Carolina.

Visiting the state’s emergency operations center, the governor told a news conference Thursday afternoon that up to 17.8 centimeters of rain could fall in some areas, with the potential for landslides. of mountain terrain and statewide tornadoes.

“For North Carolina, I want to be clear: This storm can still be dangerous and even deadly,” Cooper said.

State Emergency Management Director Will Ray said widespread power outages and evacuations were not expected at this time. Still, he urged people to keep an eye out for changes in the storm’s forecast path, which could cause more problems Friday for central and coastal counties than currently expected.

———

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Other states are sending aid to Florida after Hurricane Ian. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday he was calling for 135 National Guard members to be sent to Florida. Forty military and support vehicles will also be sent, he said.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has approved sending 245 National Guard members to Florida. The state is also responding to requests from a Family Shelter Task Force and a Hazardous Materials Team. “Louisiana knows all too well the chaos and destruction that a hurricane as strong as Ian can bring, and we will do everything we can to help our neighbors in Florida and other states affected by this storm,” Edwards said. in a press release.

Texas utility trucks headed out along Interstate 75 early Thursday to the areas of southwest Florida hardest hit by the storm.

About Ren Valdez

Check Also

The Drop Your Drawers campaign returns

The Drop Your Drawers campaign returns to the Campbell County Public Library for its seventh …