Dozens die from Ian, one of America’s most powerful, costly hurricanes

Hurricane Ian hit the Carolina coast in September; Day 30, 2022.


With the death toll nearing three dozen, rescuers searched for survivors among Florida homes devastated by Hurricane Ian on Saturday, while authorities in South Carolina began fighting damage price from strong storm attacked there as the stunned residents began the hard work of surveying their damage.

Ian, one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to make landfall in the United States, terrorized millions for much of the week, devastating western Cuba before striking across Florida from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean, where it gathered enough strength for a final assault on South Carolina. The storm is expected to weaken during the day as it moves across the mid-Atlantic.

At least 31 people were confirmed to have died, including 27 in Florida mainly from drowning but others as a result of the catastrophic consequences of the storm. Authorities say an elderly couple died after their oxygen ventilator went off during a power outage.

As of Saturday, more than 1,000 people have been rescued from flooded areas along Florida’s southwest coast, Daniel Hokanson, a four-star general and head of the National Guard, told The Associated Press while in the air to Florida.

Chris Schnapp was at the Port Sanibel Marina in Fort Myers on Saturday, waiting to see if her 83-year-old mother-in-law had been evacuated. Sanibel Island. A pontoon boat had just arrived with a load of passengers from the island – with suitcases and animals towing – but Schnapp’s mother-in-law was not among them.

“She stayed on the island. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law own two businesses there. They evacuated. She didn’t want to go because she thought it wouldn’t be bad,” Schnapp said. But then she got word Friday night that her mother-in-law was going to the marina: “We don’t know now if she’s still on the island or has boarded a bus,” and was taken to a shelter, Schnapp said.

Hurricane Ian's rain and high winds leave devastation across Florida

South Carolina’s Pawleys Island, a beach community about 73 miles (117 km) from Charleston, was among the hardest hit by Ian, and at least half of the island remained without power on Saturday.

Eddie Wilder, who has been to Pawleys Island for more than six decades, said Friday’s storm was “crazy to watch.” He said waves as high as 25 feet (7.6 meters) washed away the pier – an iconic landmark – just two doors from his home.

“We saw it hit the pier and saw the dock disappear,” Wilder said. “We watched it crumble and watched it float with an American flag still hovering.”

Pawleys Pier was one of at least four along the South Carolina coast destroyed in Ian’s rain and wind. Portions of the pier, including the barnacle pylon, dot the beach. The internal waterways are dotted with the remains of several houseboats that were thrown out of their way during the storm.

Traffic to the southernmost point of Pawleys Island was blocked, where crews were working to clear the road of sand and other debris that officials said had piled up at least a foot high. The sand will then be redistributed to rebuild dunes along the beach, as happened after a similar event in 2019.

Many of the beach houses still have sand underneath, with the dunes completely washed away and almost flattened.

John Joseph, whose father built the family’s beige beach house in 1962, said Saturday that he was delighted to return from Georgetown – which has been directly affected – to find found his Pawleys Island home completely intact.

“Thank God these walls are still here, and we feel very fortunate that this is the worst,” he said of the sand sweeping down his home. “What happened in Florida – gosh, God bless us. If we were out 4, I wouldn’t be here.”

In North Carolina, the storm appeared to have mostly toppled trees and power lines, leaving more than 280,000 people statewide without power late Saturday morning, according to state officials.

Orange County Fire Service first responders check on residents’ well-being as they walk through a flooded neighborhood following Hurricane Ian, Thursday, September 29, 2022, in Orlando, Fla.

Phelan M. Ebenhack | AP

At least one storm-related death was reported in Johnston County, outside of Raleigh. A woman found her husband dead early Saturday morning after he went to check the generator running in their garage overnight, Sheriff Jeff Caldwell’s office said.

The storm’s winds on Friday were much weaker than when Ian made landfall on Florida’s Gulf Coast earlier in the week. Authorities and volunteers there are still assessing the damage as shocked residents try to understand what they’ve just been through.

“I want to sit in the corner and cry. I don’t know what else to do,” said Stevie Scuderi after trudging through her now-demolished Fort Myers apartment, the mud in the kitchen clinging to her purple slippers. .

Aerial video shows Hurricane Ian ravaging the Sanibel Island Causeway

On Saturday, a long line waited outside an O’Reilly auto parts store in Port Charlotte, where a sign said “We have generators now”. Hundreds of cars lined up outside a gas station in Wawa, and some people walked, carrying gas cans to their nearby cars.

At the Port Sanibel Marina in Fort Myers, Captain Ryan Kane was assessing damage to two boats Saturday, after high tide pushed several boats and a dock ashore. He said the boat he owned had been totaled in value. He said he couldn’t use it to help rescue people and that it would be a long time before he could charter a fishing boat for a client.

“There’s a hole in the hull. It gets water in the engines. It gets water in everything,” he said, adding: “You know, boats have to be in the water, not in the docks.”


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