Ian leaves trapped and blackouts in a flooded Florida

Hurricane Ian left a trail of destruction in its path across southwest Florida, trapping residents in flooded homes, damaging the roof of a hospital intensive care unit and leaving more than two million people without electricity before heading towards the Atlantic coast.

Ian, one of the most powerful hurricanes to hit the United States, tore through the Florida panhandle on Wednesday night and threatened cause catastrophic flooding in the interior of the state.

Due to the lack of electricity and intermittent cell phone service, many requests for help do not reach their destination. Emergency crews can sawing through fallen trees to reach people trapped in flooded houses. “If the line is busy, keep trying,” the Lee County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook message early Thursday.

Ian weakened on land and early Thursday It was downgraded to a tropical storm but is expected to regain strength once its vortex reaches the Atlantic and threatens the South Carolina coast with near-hurricane power on Friday. Storm surges of up to 6 feet (2 meters) are expected on both sides of the Florida panhandle.

A stretch of the Gulf of Mexico coast continued to be inundated with seawater that was pushed ashore by the monstrous storm.

“Severe and life-threatening flooding of 8 to 10 feet (2.4 to 3 meters) above sea level, along with destructive waves, is occurring along the Southwest Florida coast from Englewood to Bonita Beach, including Charlotte Harbor,” highlights the center.

in port charlotteon the Florida coast of the Gulf of Mexico, the storm surge flooded the emergency room of a hospital, located on the ground floor of the building, while the wind tore off part of the ICU cover, located on the fourth, according to a doctor from the center.

Water poured into the intensive care unit, forcing staff to evacuate the center’s sickest patients, some of them on ventilators, to other floors, said Dr. Birgit Bodine of HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital. Workers set out towels and plastic containers to try to contain the regret chaos.

The hospital has four floors, but the patients had only two due to the damage. Bodine planned to spend another night at the center in case any injuries from the meteor arrived.

“As long as our patients are fine and no one ends up dying or getting worse, that’s what matters,” he said.

In nearby Fort Myers, authorities received calls from people trapped in flooded homes or from concerned family members. Ransom pleas were posted on social mediasome of them with videos that showed how the water, covered with debris, approached the cornices of the houses.

Brittany Hailer, a journalist from Pittsburgh, contacted rescue teams about her mother, who lives north of Fort Myers and whose home was in 5 feet of water.

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“We don’t know when the water is going to go down. We don’t know how they’re going to get out, their cars are broken,” Hailer said. “His only way out is by boat.”

The hurricane turned streets into rivers and toppled trees as it swept through southwest Florida on Wednesday, packing 150 mph (241 km/h) winds and a wall of storm surge. When it made landfall, Ian was a Category 4 storm, and by the strength of its winds it was the fifth strongest in US history.

As of 5 a.m. Thursday, Ian was about 40 miles (70 kilometers) southeast of Orlando and 35 miles (55 kilometers) southwest of Cape Canaveral, with maximum sustained winds of 55 miles (100 km/h). mph), the Miami-based NHC reported. The meteor was moving towards the cape at 13 km/h (8 mph), it added.

Hurricane warnings were downgraded to tropical storm watches for the entire Florida panhandle, and Widespread and catastrophic flooding was still possibleas well as storm surges up to six feet (two meters) high, the center added.

“It doesn’t matter what the intensity of the storm is. We’re still expecting pretty heavy rain,” NHC hurricane specialist meteorologist Robbie Berg told The Associated Press.

Tropical-storm-force winds reached as far as 665 kilometers from the eye of the meteor, and nearly the entire state saw precipitation. According to the NHC forecast, in parts of northeast Florida, coastal Georgia and the South Carolina Lowcountry, Ian could drop up to a foot of rain, while southern Virginia could dump up to 15 centimeters (6 inches) as it moved inland over the Carolinas.

As of Wednesday night, no deaths from the meteor had been reported in the United States. But a boat with Cuban migrants on board capsized Wednesday in stormy weather east of Key West.

US Coast Guard launched a search and rescue operation for 23 people and found three survivors about a mile south of the Florida Keys, according to authorities. Four other Cubans swam to Stock Island, just east of Key West, according to the Border Patrol. Air crews were still searching for the 20 migrants who might still be at sea.

Before making landfall in Florida, the hurricane had swept through Cuba, where it claimed the lives of two people and disabled the island’s power grid.

More than two million Florida homes and businesses were without power, according to the website PowerOutage.us. Nearly every home and business in three counties was experiencing blackouts.

The governors of South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia preemptively declared states of emergency. Meteorologists predict that Ian will reach these regions as a tropical storm that could cause flooding over the weekend.

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