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Hurricane Ian latest updates: storm makes second US landfall in South Carolina – as it happened

The Guardian
The Guardian
 2022-10-01

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1.38am BST

Summary

Here are the key developments of the day:

  • The National Hurricane Center downgraded Ian to a post-tropical cyclone, but warned that the dangers of life-threatening storm surge, flash flooding and high winds continues in the Carolinas, where Ian made its second US landfall earlier today.

  • Hundreds of thousands of people are without power across North and South Carolina and authorities have advised residents to stay vigilant as high winds are expected to knock out more trees and power lines. “We are not out of the woods, there is water on the roads, still heavy winds, and it is still dangerous in many parts of the state,” the South Carolina governor said.

  • Ian destroyed at least four piers along South Carolina’s northern coast. Myrtle Beach endured the brunt of the surge while Pawleys Island, which lost its pier, has faced catastrophic flooding, police there said.

  • The storm appears to have spared the historic South Carolina city of Charleston the worst of its fury, having made landfall about 60 miles (97 km) farther north than once forecast, but more flooding is still expected.

  • In Florida , Hurricane Ian’s death toll rose to at least 21, authorities said, and is expected to grow further. Two elderly residents in Sarasota county died when their oxygen supplies became disconnected in the storm, officials reported.

  • Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis said more than 3,000 wrecked or flooded homes in the worst hit south-west of the state had been visited by search and rescue crews, and hundreds of residents brought to safety.

  • More than 1.9 million customers across Florida were still without electricity, DeSantis said, with some areas not expected to be reconnected for weeks while power grids are rebuilt.

  • Joe Biden said America’s heart “is literally breaking” at the apocalyptic scenes from Florida, and signed a major disaster declaration for four more counties, bringing the total to 13. The move frees federal funds for recovery and rebuilding efforts, and for individual disaster relief from the hurricane Biden said was “likely to rank among worst in the nation’s history”.

Dani Anguiano and Richard Luscombe

Updated at 1.47am BST

1.03am BST

Florida sheriff Carmine Marceno has shared footage of the devastation in Florida. The video posted on Thursday shows a trail of destruction in Lee County, including the partially collapsed Sanibel Causeway.

The coast guard has staged rescue missions on Sanibel Island, and earlier today brought two people and three cats to safety by helicopter.

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An aerial picture shows the collapsed Sanibel Causeway in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Sanibel, Florida. Photograph: Ricardo Arduengo/AFP/Getty Images
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Sanibel Causeway in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. Photograph: Ricardo Arduengo/AFP/Getty Images
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Debris is seen on Sanibel Island, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. Photograph: Steve Helber/AP

12.38am BST

The Carolinas will continue to face a dangerous and “life-threatening” coastal storm surge this evening, according to the National Hurricane Center. Tropical storm force winds are also expected, which authorities have warned could lead to downed power lines and trees.

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A man carries his pet dog on a flooded street, as Ian bears down on Charleston, South Carolina. Photograph: Jonathan Drake/Reuters
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A worker clears a tree from Meeting Street after it was brought down during Hurricane Ian in Charleston. Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images
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In a photo provided by the Myrtle Beach fire department, crews respond to rescue people who were trapped on the second floor due to flooding caused by Hurricane Ian. Photograph: Associated Press

In central Florida, major river flooding is expected to continue through next week, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Updated at 12.54am BST

11.42pm BST

Ian has destroyed at least four piers along South Carolina’s northern coast, the Associated Press reports. Myrtle Beach endured the brunt of the surge. Pawleys Island, which lost its pier, has faced catastrophic flooding, according to local police.

The storm has also downed trees across the state.

Henry McMaster, the state’s governor, said the storm has so far not been as bad as expected in South Carolina, but advised residents to remain alert.

“A lot of prayers have been answered – this storm is not as bad as it could have been, but don’t let your guard down yet,” said McMaster. “We are not out of the woods, there is water on the roads, still heavy winds, and it is still dangerous in many parts of the state.”

Updated at 11.46pm BST

11.05pm BST

Authorities in North Carolina have warned residents to be vigilant as Ian is expected to bring strong winds and up to 8in of rain in some areas.

“Ian is at our door. Expect drenching rain and sustained heavy winds over most of our state,” said the state’s governor, Roy Cooper. “Our message today is simple: be smart and be safe.”

There are more than 140,000 reports of power outages across the state, according to North Carolina Emergency Management , as well as flooded roads.

Updated at 11.11pm BST

10.07pm BST

The National Hurricane Center has said Ian, which is making landfall over South Carolina, is now a post-tropical cyclone. While the storm has been downgraded, authorities warn the threat of dangerous storm surge, flash flooding and high winds continues.

10.00pm BST

Rescues continue in Florida as the state grapples with the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, which has killed at least 21 people.

WTSP , a local Tampa station, shared footage of residents rescuing a man trapped underneath rubble in Fort Myers. “We got you,” they told the man as they pulled him from a large pile of debris.

9.32pm BST

Firefighters from Miami-Dade county crossed the state to assist the search for survivors, and said Friday they had rescued 42 people from barrier islands in the south-west of Florida.

The department’s urban search and rescue units, which led efforts to find trapped residents of the Surfside condominium collapse near Miami in June last year, posted photographs and a video to Twitter highlighting their efforts over the first two days of the recovery operation.

9.06pm BST

Interim summary

This is Richard Luscombe signing off from our hurricane blog. My colleague Dani Aguiano on the US west coast will guide you through the next few hours.

Here’s what we’ve been following:

  • Hurricane Ian made its second US landfall at Georgetown, South Carolina , shortly after 2pm. It is still a category 1 hurricane with winds of 85mph, but will weaken quickly as it moves inland.

  • The storm appears to have spared the historic South Carolina city of Charleston the worst of its fury, having made landfall about 60 miles further north than once forecast. But the city’s mayor says flooding is still expected, and more than 200,000 customers in the state are without electricity.

  • In Florida , Hurricane Ian’s death toll rose to at least 21, authorities said, and is expected to grow further. Two elderly residents in Sarasota county died when their oxygen supplies became disconnected in the storm, officials reported.

  • Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis said more than 3,000 wrecked or flooded homes in the worst hit south-west of the state had been visited by search and rescue crews, and hundreds of residents brought to safety. Dramatic footage has emerged of some of the aerial rescues.

  • More than 1.9m customers across Florida were still without electricity, DeSantis said, with some areas not expected to be reconnected for weeks while power grids are rebuilt.

  • Joe Biden said America’s heart “is literally breaking” at the apocalyptic scenes from Florida, and signed a major disaster declaration for four more counties, bringing the total to 13. The move frees federal funds for recovery and rebuilding efforts, and for individual disaster relief.

  • Biden said the hurricane was “likely to rank among worst in the nation’s history”.

8.44pm BST

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, was in the path of Hurricane Ian, which has just swept ashore about 35 miles further south along the coast in Georgetown, but that didn’t stop sightseers taking walks along the boardwalk to check out the ferocious winds and crashing waves.

A waterfront webcam is showing live pictures from the beach, with pedestrians who probably shouldn’t be there dodging flying palm fronds and other debris, as the occasional emergency vehicle drives past.

Another webcam further along the waterfront is showing the view from the roof of the Sea Crest Oceanfront Resort .

City authorities are urging residents to stay indoors while the storm passes over. Numerous trees and power lines are down, and a large boat was seen foundering just offshore. It is unclear if anybody is aboard.

8.37pm BST

Footage has been released of a dramatic air rescue on Sanibel island, Florida, on Thursday, in which at least two people and three cats are seen being lifted to safety by helicopter.

Coast guard helicopters have been engaging in rescue missions almost non-stop since before daylight Thursday, after the worst of Hurricane Ian ’s category 4 winds and torrential rain finally moved away from the south-west Florida coastal communities it wrecked.

Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis said on Friday that more then 3,000 homes had received visits from search and rescue crews, with hundreds of people brought to safety.

Personnel from the coast guard, teams of firefighters from around the state and country, and volunteers from the citizen Cajun Navy are among those who have been conducting rescue missions by helicopter, boat and high water vehicle.

8.23pm BST

Hurricane Ian’s deviation to the north appears to have spared the historic South Carolina city of Charleston the worst of its fury.

The category 1 storm had been expected to make landfall around Charleston at about noon, according to official forecasts, but veered slightly to the north as it closed in on land, the center of the eyewall crossing the coast at Georgetown , 60 miles away, just after 2pm.

Some flooding is still expected, Charleston’s mayor John Tecklenburg told reporters, but the storm surge appears to have been well below the 9ft once feared.

Ian came ashore at Georgetown with sustained winds of 85mph. The National Weather Service in Charleston is reporting winds in and around the city mostly well below that speed, with only two areas – Shutes Folly and Fort Sumter monument island – experiencing gusts above the 74mph hurricane force wind threshold.

Updated at 8.49pm BST

8.08pm BST

The PowerOutage website reports that the number of customers in South Carolina without electricity has now risen above 200,000.

Hurricane Ian made landfall about an hour ago in Georgetown, but strong winds have been lashing coastal communities for hours, and the figure has risen steadily through the morning. Many more outages are expected.

The figures, however, pale to those in Florida , where an estimated 1.9m customers are without power.

Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis says the scale of destruction in some areas is so great that entire power grids will need to be rebuilt rather than repaired, and some customers can expect to be without electricity for weeks.

7.56pm BST

Sarasota county sheriff Kurt Hoffman says Hurricane Ian is the worst he’s seen in his career stretching back to the 1980s.

“This is a significant and catastrophic storm,” Hoffman says in a video posted to YouTube on Friday.

“I’ve lived in this community for over four decades and I have never seen a storm of this strength that has done this much damage.”

The Sarasota, Florida, sheriff’s office has recorded two deaths so far related to the storm, both elderly residents who relied on oxygen supplies that were disabled. The incidents were unrelated.

“Our thoughts are with the loved ones of these two individuals and with all others impacted by this catastrophic weather event,” the sheriff’s office said in a tweet.

Updated at 8.00pm BST

7.24pm BST

Hurricane Ian makes landfall in South Carolina

The national hurricane center says Hurricane Ian has made landfall in South Carolina.

The eye of the hurricane has sped ashore near Georgetown and is now hurtling inland, pushing maximum sustained winds of 85mph.

With torrential rain and howling winds, the storm is set to ravage South Carolina and is already causing hazardous conditions and flooding further north.

Updated at 7.36pm BST

7.22pm BST

Biden: 'America's heart is literally breaking'

Joe Biden says the federal government will be with Florida and its residents “every step of the way” as the state begins its recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Ian.

In an address from the White House, the president has just said America’s heart “is literally breaking” at the apocalyptic scenes:

We’re just beginning to see the scale that destruction is likely to rank among the worst of the nation’s, and the worst in the nation’s history.

You have all seen on television homes and property wiped out. It’s gonna take months years to rebuild. And our hearts go out to all those folks whose lives have been absolutely devastated by the storm.

America’s heart is literally breaking just watching people, watching on television. I just want the people of Florida to know, we see what you’re going through and we’re with you. We’re going to do everything we can for you.

Biden on Thursday signed a major disaster declaration for the nine worst-hit counties in Florida, freeing more federal resources and funds for relief and recovery efforts that will cost in the billions.

He announced today he was adding four more counties for individual disaster relief:

What that means is the federal government is covering every cost, 100% of the cost to clear the massive debris left in the wake of the hurricane in these counties.

And all needs to be cleared out for communities to begin the hard work of trying to get back on their feet.

That declaration also means that we will cover all the extra cost for emergency personnel who are saving lives and providing for public safety.

6.52pm BST

Biden: Hurricane Ian 'likely to rank among worst in the nation's history'

Joe Biden is addressing the public now and warning that the hurricane that’s devastated a large swath of Florida and is barreling towards South Carolina is likely to be one of America’s worst.

Watch the Biden feed we have live in this blog.

The eye of the hurricane is just off South Carolina and landfall is imminent.

Updated at 7.01pm BST

6.47pm BST

The US’s Small Business Administration has made available various disaster loans to businesses, nonprofit organizations and residents across Florida following the damages caused by Hurricane Ian.

On Wednesday, president Joe Biden authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist individuals with property losses and housing repairs.

“Folks in Florida who have destroyed or damaged homes — if you don’t have enough insurance, it means the federal government will provide individual assistance of $37,900 for home repairs, another $37,900 for lost property — everything from an automobile to a lost wedding ring. And that’s what we mean by ‘lost property,’” the president said on Wednesday at FEMA headquarters in Washington DC.

6.29pm BST

In Puerto Rico, an estimated 233,000 homes and businesses are still without power almost two weeks after Hurricane Fiona caused an island-wide outage for its 3.3 million people.

After hitting Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic , Fiona turned north and slammed into eastern Canada on September 24, leaving more than a third of Nova Scotia without power, Reuters reports.

Nova Scotia Power, a unit of Canadian energy company Emera Inc , said about 59,900 customers were without power in the province early Friday, down from about 78,200 early Thursday.

Fiona hit Puerto Rico on Sept. 18 about five years after Hurricane Maria knocked out all power on the island.

PowerOutage.us said about 233,000 customers were without service in Puerto Rico on Friday, down from around 239,000 early Thursday, based on information from LUMA Energy, which operates its grid.

That pace of restoration was much faster than after Maria - when almost all 1.5 million customers had no power for a week. At that time the now bankrupt Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) was still operating the grid.

It took PREPA about 11 months to restore power to all customers, but Maria was a much more powerful storm than Fiona.

Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017 as a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 155 miles (249 kilometers) per hour (mph), while Fiona hit as a Category 1 storm with winds of 85 mph.

LUMA Energy said it restored service to 1.212 million, or about 83% of all customers by early Friday and expects to restore service to 90% of customers in all of its service regions by Oct. 6 so long as sufficient generation is available.

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Aftermath of Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico. File photo: Cars drive under a downed power pole in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona in Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico September 21, 2022. Photograph: Ricardo Arduengo/Reuters

Updated at 6.46pm BST

6.05pm BST

Joe Biden is due to make remarks soon about recovery efforts related to the hurricane.

The US president was going to speak at 11.30am ET, but got held up at the event at the supreme court, where Ketanji Brown Jackson had her investiture ceremony.

So he went then to a Rosh Hashanah event at the White House first and will be back in front of the cameras, hopefully, in the next 15 minutes or so.

5.14pm BST

Videos emerge of strong winds and floods in Charleston, South Carolina

Videos have emerged of strong winds and floods in Charleston as the city braces for Hurricane Ian which is expected to make landfall in South Carolina at around noon local time today.

Updated at 5.36pm BST

4.50pm BST

Lee and Charlotte counties in Florida have around 15% of their power restored, governor Ron DeSantis said at a news briefing on Friday morning.

“There is going to be some that require rebuilds,” DeSantis said, adding that the utilities in those counties plan to carry out the restoration process as soon as possible.

Hardee county is still one of the hardest hit areas with 99% of its residents currently in the dark, said the governor.

Updated at 4.57pm BST

4.24pm BST

Hurricane Ian is accelerating towards the South Carolina coast, the National Hurricane Centre warned in its 11am advisory update .

“Ian is moving toward the north near 14 mph (22 km/h). Ian is forecast to move more quickly toward the north today followed by a turn toward the north-northwest by tonight,” the advisory said.

“On the forecast track, the center of Ian will reach the coast of South Carolina today, and then move farther inland across eastern South Carolina and central North Carolina tonight and Saturday,” it added.

Maximum sustained winds remain near 85 mph or 140 km/h with higher gusts. The NHC forecasts that Ian will maintain about the same strength before it makes landfall later today and then weaken and rapidly transition into a post-tropical cyclone overnight.

Updated at 4.28pm BST

4.04pm BST

The damages and losses caused by the hurricane will likely range from $25b n to $40b n for Florida, according to credit ratings agency Fitch Ratings.

“Based on our initial analysis, insured losses could range from $25 billion-$40 billion for Florida, which could increase depending on the effect of the storm in the Carolinas. This compares to Hurricane Katrina’s $65 billion in 2005, winter storm Uri - $15 billion in 2021 and Hurricane Ida - $36 billion in 2021,” it said.

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An aerial view of damaged properties after Hurricane Ian caused widespread destruction, in Fort Meyers, Florida on Friday. Photograph: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Updated at 5.35pm BST

3.42pm BST

Some airports across Florida are starting to open up with limited operations.

Orlando International Airport announced that commercial lights will resume at noon today.

“This decision was made after a thorough investigation of any property damage and a careful consideration for the safety and security of the traveling public and airport employees,” it said in a statement.

Tampa International Airport resumed commercial operations around 40 minutes ago, the airport announced.

“Friday’s 10am reopening for departing and arriving flights will give the airport and its partners such as the FAA, the TSA, airlines, and others time to take necessary steps for the safe resumption of business,” it said.

Jacksonville International Airport said that it will be open on Friday with limited food services and that some airlines will operate on 'reduced schedules.”

Meanwhile, in South Carolina, Charleston International Airport announced that it has closed its airfield due to high winds from the hurricane and plans to reopen on Saturday at 6am.

3.14pm BST

Disney World reopens to visitors

Disney World is back open after being closed Wednesday and Thursday as Hurricane Ian passed through Orlando. Guests had been instructed to hunker down in hotel rooms until the storm passed. Universal Studios also said that it will reopen today.

Videos of Disney World this morning show the theme park seemingly operating as normal under a blue sky. One Twitter user posted a canopy that appeared to be broken by the storm.

According to the Orlando Sentinel , Universal Studios began calling employees back into work Thursday night to prepare for Friday’s reopening.

Updated at 5.36pm BST

2.39pm BST

Florida hurricane death toll rises to 21 as South Carolina prepares for landfall

The death toll from Hurricane Ian has risen to 21 deaths – most yet to be confirmed by officials to be related to the storm , Kevin Guthrie, director of Florida’s emergency management department, said at a press conference.

Officials have confirmed one death in Polk county near Orlando, but the 20 other deaths still need to be confirmed. Guthrie explained that officials need time to determine whether the deaths were directly disaster-related. The 20 unconfirmed deaths were from Charlotte and Collier counties near Fort Myers, what officials are calling “ground zero” of the destruction.

Rescuers have completed their initial, quick search for living survivors and are starting more detailed search efforts that will likely see the death toll rising, Guthrie said.

Meanwhile, South Carolina is hunkering down as Hurricane Ian heads toward land once again. The Charleston airport closed its runways this morning in anticipation of the storm making landfall later today. The forecast says Ian will likely touch down on the state in the afternoon.

Updated at 2.53pm BST

2.13pm BST

Florida county without water after water main break

Lee county, which covers Fort Myers in south-west Florida, does not have running water after a water main break at its utility, Florida governor Ron DeSantis said at a press conference. The county is home to over 750,000 residents.

DeSantis said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Army Corp of Engineers are in the county assessing the situation. It is unclear when water will return to residents, though DeSantis called it a “top priority”.

Updated at 2.30pm BST

1.53pm BST

Thousands of people are trapped in flooded homes in Florida after Hurricane Ian left severe damage in the state. Governor Ron DeSantis yesterday said that least 700 rescues have been conducted so far, mostly by air.

Sheriffs in the south-western part of the state, which was in the direct path of the storm, told the Associated Press that they were receiving thousands of calls from those stranded in their homes.

Before the storm hit, the state asked residents who sheltered in place to fill out a survey, allowing officials to have demographic information should areas become hard for rescuers to access. The state yesterday said they had over 15,000 responses from residents who sheltered in place during the storm.

Updated at 2.30pm BST

1.35pm BST

In its 8am update on Hurricane Ian, the National Weather Service said Ian will probably not strengthen much as it approaches South Carolina. The storm’s maximum sustained winds are near 85mph (140km/h). The storm is forecast to reach the South Carolina coast today (Friday), and then move north-east toward central North Carolina Friday night and Saturday morning.

Some South Carolina residents are starting to feel the storm’s effects. Nearly 10,000 are without power as the storm approaches. Hurricane warnings are in effect along the coast of the entire state.

Updated at 1.38pm BST

1.08pm BST

Hurricane Ian approaches South Carolina

Tropical Storm Ian , which battered Florida as a hurricane on Wednesday, is gaining new strength as it approaches South Carolina today.

Forecasts say landfall could take place this afternoon. The entire coast of South Carolina is under a hurricane warning . Once it makes landfall, Ian is expected to weaken back to a tropical storm as it makes its way across the southeastern US . The hurricane will be the first to directly hit South Carolina since Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

Meanwhile, Florida is still assessing the mass of damages from Ian, mostly from flooding that the hurricane left in its wake. At least a dozen deaths have been reported, though officials across the states are still working to calculate the death toll. Yesterday, Joe Biden said the hurricane could prove the deadliest in Florida’s history. Over 2m people who were in the hurricane’s path are still without power .

We’re going to be tracking Tropical Storm Ian as it re-approaches land and providing updates on what Ian left behind in Florida. Stay tuned.

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