More than 2.5 million Florida residents lost power due to Hurricane Ian

Due to widespread damage from Hurricane Ian, more than 2.5 million people in Florida are without power on Thursday morning. Ian made landfall near Cayo Costa, Florida, on Sept. 28 as a Category 4 storm with 150 mph winds that snapped trees, tore up homes and knocked down power lines all along the coast.

In places like Fort Myers, water levels rose to nearly 7 feet, while Naples rose to 12 feet. As people posted photos and videos of the storm on social media, the streets looked like oceans.

In a call to the Today show Thursday, Ft. Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson said, “This is the worst storm I’ve ever seen.” He said he’s lived in the area since the 1970s. “Watching the water rise from my flat in the heart of the centre, watching it rise and flood all the shops on the first floor, it was heartbreaking.”

President Joe Biden officially declared the state of Florida a major disaster area on Thursday. That means people in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota counties will get help from the federal government.

People who are stranded due to the huge flood are now being rescued quickly. So far, no one has been killed. “The recovery will be long, but we will recover because Floridians are very resilient,” Anderson added.

Although the National Hurricane Center downgraded Ian to a tropical storm on Thursday with sustained winds of 65 mph, the organization said in a statement that Ian was still “life-threatening.”

As it moves toward the east-central coast of Florida, it continues to carve a path of destruction. Heavy rain has been falling over Orlando since Thursday morning.

The NHC predicts it will move back over the Atlantic Ocean and then head north toward Georgia and the Carolinas by Friday.

At 5 a.m. Thursday, the NHC said, “There is a risk of life-threatening gusts along the coasts of northeast Florida, Georgia and South Carolina today through Friday.” “Residents in these areas should follow all advisories given by local authorities.”

“Widespread, life-threatening catastrophic flooding, with major to record river flooding, will continue today in parts of central Florida with significant flooding in northern Florida, southeastern Georgia, and eastern South Carolina expected today through the end of the week,” the NHC added.

The NHC says Hurricane Ian made landfall as “an extremely dangerous category 4 hurricane” shortly after 3pm local time on Wednesday. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday that it will be “one of those historic storms” and “one of the Top 5 hurricanes to ever hit the Florida peninsula.”

“This is really going to shape the communities of southwest Florida and have a profound impact on our state,” he noted as Ian approached. “We’re just asking people for their thoughts and their prayers.”

At a FEMA news conference Wednesday, Ken Graham, who is in charge of the National Weather Service, also spoke about Ian’s possible effects. “This is a storm we’ll be talking about for years to come,” Graham said.

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