Storm: Hurricane "Ian" causes "historic" damage in Florida

Hurricane Ian caused enormous damage in the US state of Florida.

Storm: Hurricane "Ian" causes "historic" damage in Florida

Hurricane Ian caused enormous damage in the US state of Florida. "The impact of this storm is historic," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday. "And the damage that has been caused is historic." This is only based on the first assessments, the full extent will only be foreseeable in the coming days. "We've never seen flooding like this before," DeSantis said. "We have never seen a storm surge of this magnitude." So far, however, there have been no confirmed deaths from the storm.

"Ian" made landfall on Wednesday as one of the strongest hurricanes in Florida history, causing violent winds, heavy rain, storm surges and flooding. With wind speeds of up to 240 kilometers per hour, the storm reached the west coast of the sunny state and was just below the threshold for the highest hurricane category, as announced by the National Hurricane Center. During the night, violent storms raged on a strip of land more than a hundred kilometers wide.

Downgraded to Tropical Storm

The storm then weakened as it made its way into inland Florida. Early Thursday morning (local time) "Ian" reached wind speeds of up to 100 kilometers per hour. Meteorologists downgraded the hurricane to a tropical storm. However, the experts continued to warn of catastrophic, even life-threatening flooding in parts of Florida. DeSantis also warned that the situation was still very dangerous.

On Thursday, the extent of the devastation left behind by "Ian" was only beginning to be appreciated after sunrise: flooded roads, uprooted trees, downed traffic lights and power poles, debris lying around. Officials from different parts of the state said they are just beginning to move into more severely affected areas and get a picture of the situation. According to the US Coast Guard, emergency services swarmed out with helicopters to rescue people from rooftops.

Carmine Marceno, the sheriff of Lee County, one of the hardest-hit regions on Florida's southwest coast, told CNN that thousands of emergency calls were received in the county overnight. However, some areas are not yet accessible to rescue workers. "We were hit very, very hard."

Damage not yet precisely quantified

The head of the civil protection agency Fema, Deanne Criswell, told CNN that there was still no precise assessment of the damage. "But it will be catastrophic." Your authority is preparing for the fact that thousands of families will not be able to return to their homes and will temporarily need a place to stay.

DeSantis said there would be more clarity about the damage, but also possible deaths, in the coming days. Only two deaths are known at the moment, and it is not yet clear whether they are directly related to the storm.

According to DeSantis, "Ian" could be included in the list of the five deadliest hurricanes in Florida. As of Thursday morning, around two million households were still without power, the Republican said. The two districts of Lee County and Charlotte on the southwest coast of Florida are currently almost completely cut off from the power grid. The infrastructure there must be rebuilt, emphasized DeSantis. It's about much more than just reconnecting a line to a mast.

Tens of thousands of fitters had previously been activated to repair power lines as quickly as possible. 100 engineers are already on their way to inspect bridges that have sustained storm damage, DeSantis said. In some places, it will take years to rebuild what the storm destroyed or damaged. "This is going to be a very, very long process."

On Tuesday, "Ian" was a category three out of five hurricane that made landfall in Cuba and also caused major damage there. On Thursday, the storm slowly moved northeast. The National Hurricane Center warned of strong winds and flooding in neighboring states of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. DeSantis said the storm isn't done doing damage.

Video from Key West (Twitter) Hurricane center release with storm surge warning Hurricane center release Tampa Bay Times Miami Herald New York Times CNN ticker

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