The people of Florida have seen the worst Hurricane Ian had to offer in the last 24 hours. For many years, they will remember it as the worst storm in the State’s history for claiming lives and washing away their houses and communities.
As of Friday morning, the storm had claimed about 19 lives across Florida. The death toll could be higher as there are no clear details on the number of missing persons.
Florida’s Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno told CNN that he could not find the words to describe the extent of damage caused by the storm.
“I just literally got out of a helicopter where I was able to take a complete tour of the entire county, and there’s really no words that I can say to tell you what I’ve seen,” he said.
“The Fort Myers Beach area, buildings, major, major homes and buildings completely washed away with vehicles in the water, vehicles in the bay, boats are upside down,” Marceno added.
Mr. Marceno said rescuers are working hard to find whoever needs help, but he could not say how many people were missing or unaccounted for.
Dan Allers, a local politician in Fort Myers Beach, told CNN at least 90% of the city was gone.
“Unless you have a high-rise condo or a newer concrete home that is built to the same standards today, your house is pretty much gone,” he said. “Every home pretty much on the beach is gone.
Mr. Allers added that the storm also destroyed his home after he managed to escape. On how people managed to escape despite the great storm, he said: I’ve heard stories of people getting in freezers and floating the freezers to another home … and being rescued by higher homes.”
Electricity has been restored to some parts of the state, but at least two million people still do not have access to it. Officials are also working round the clock to rescue those still trapped by the flood.
“More than 500 individuals have been rescued in Charlotte & Lee Counties since operations began this morning,” the Emergency Service Department said Thursday.
The deadliest hurricane in the history of Florida
Most experts have said the storm was the worse in the history of Florida. President Biden, who was at the FEMA headquarters in Washington DC on Thursday, also reaffirmed that.
“This could be the deadliest hurricane in Florida’s history. The numbers are still unclear, but we are hearing early reports of what may be a substantial loss of life,” Biden said on Thursday.
The President said the US government would take responsibility for all the damages and care for every expense.
“The federal government will cover 100% of the cost to clear debris and all the costs the state has to engage in and expend to save lives. The federal government will also cover the majority of the cost of rebuilding public buildings like schools and state fire stations,” Biden said.
Hurricane Ian begins the journey to Georgia and the Carolinas
After causing severe damage to the people in Florida, Ian is on its way to Georgia and the Carolinas (North and South). The category 4 Hurricane calmed down on Thursday after making landfall in Florida. However, it rebuilt to category one and began a new journey.
“Ian becomes a hurricane again. Taking aim at the Carolinas and Georgia with life-threatening flooding, storm surge, and strong winds,” the National Weather Service said on Thursday.
The damages would depend on human errors
Although the storm might not be as strong as that of Florida, there are preparations in all three states expecting it.
Governor Henry McMaster of South Carolina said everyone knows what is coming, but the seriousness of the woes would depend on how the residents heed the warnings of the government.
“It’s people failing to take the necessary precautions. That’s the real danger that we have, is human error,” McMaster said at a news conference on Thursday.
“Doesn’t make much difference whether this comes in at Hurricane strength or below at storm strength or somewhere on the line, cause it’s going to be blowing strong winds and it’s going to be all over the state at different levels, as you can see if you go look at those maps,” he said.
Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina also held a press conference to warn residents of the dangers of playing with Ian.
“So, for North Carolinians, I want to be clear, this storm can still be dangerous and even deadly. Heavy rains, up to seven inches in some areas, are likely to bring flooding,” he said. “Landslides are a threat in our mountains, and there’s a chance of tornados statewide.”
Mr. Cooper said there could be power outages over the weekend, and he declared a state of emergency to enable smooth rescue operations as the state expects a handful of destructions.