Ian Leaves Trail of Devastation

Hurricane was 5th-strongest storm ever to hit US; 2M without power, people trapped in homes
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 29, 2022 3:47 AM CDT
Updated Sep 29, 2022 6:39 AM CDT
2M Without Power as Ian Swamps Florida
This image provided by the Naples Fire Rescue Department shows a firefighter carrying gear in water from the storm surge from Hurricane Ian on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022 in Naples, Fla.   (Naples Fire Department via AP)

Hurricane Ian left a path of destruction in southwest Florida, trapping people in flooded homes, damaging the roof of a hospital intensive care unit, and knocking out power to 2 million people before aiming for the Atlantic Coast. One of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit the United States barreled across the Florida peninsula overnight Wednesday, threatening catastrophic flooding inland, the National Hurricane Center warned. The center’s 2am advisory said Ian was expected to emerge over Atlantic waters later on Thursday, with flooding rains continuing across central and northern Florida. From the AP:

  • In Port Charlotte, along Florida's Gulf Coast, the storm surge flooded a lower-level emergency room in a hospital even as fierce winds ripped away part of the roof from its intensive care unit, according to a doctor who works there. Water gushed down onto the ICU, forcing staff to evacuate the hospital’s sickest patients—some of whom were on ventilators—to other floors, said Dr. Birgit Bodine of HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital

  • Law enforcement officials in nearby Fort Myers received calls from people trapped in flooded homes or from worried relatives. Pleas were also posted on social media sites, some with video showing debris-covered water sloshing toward homes’ eaves. Brittany Hailer, a journalist in Pittsburgh, contacted rescuers about her mother in North Fort Myers, whose home was swamped by 5 feet of water. "Her only way out is on a boat," Hailer said.
  • Hurricane Ian turned streets into rivers and blew down trees as it slammed into southwest Florida on Wednesday with 150mph winds, pushing a wall of storm surge. Ian’s strength at landfall was Category 4 and tied it for the fifth-strongest hurricane, when measured by wind speed, to ever strike the US.
  • Ian dropped in strength by late Wednesday to Category 1 with 90mph winds as it moved overland. Still, storm surges as high as 6 feet were expected on the opposite side of the state, in northeast Florida, on Thursday.

  • News anchors at Fort Myers television station WINK had to abandon their usual desk and continue storm coverage from another location in their newsroom because water was pushing into their building near the Caloosahatchee River.
  • No deaths were reported in the United States from Ian by late Wednesday. But a boat carrying Cuban migrants sank Wednesday in stormy weather east of Key West. The US Coast Guard initiated a search and rescue mission for 23 people and managed to find three survivors about two miles south of the Florida Keys, officials said. Four other Cubans swam to Stock Island, just east of Key West, the US Border Patrol said. Air crews continued to search for the remaining migrants.
(Read more Hurricane Ian stories.)

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