Florida, Carolinas count the cost of Hurricane Ian
Tallahassee, Oct 02: North and South Carolina on Saturday followed Florida in beginning a massive clean-up operation after the devastation caused by Hurricane Ian, which hit the two US eastern states two days after pummeling the south.
At least 30 people were confirmed dead in the US from one of the strongest and costliest hurricanes ever to hit the country.
We're beginning to see the scale of the devastation in Florida which is likely to rank among the worst in the nation’s history.— President Biden (@POTUS) October 1, 2022
Our hearts break for the folks whose lives have been devastated by this storm.
We are with you. And we'll stay at it for as long as it takes.
The damage has, so far, been estimated at $65-$100 billion (roughly €67-€102 billion).
Across the three states, more than 1.6 million homes and businesses were still without power on Saturday morning local time, according to tracking website PowerOutage.us.
What is the latest from Florida?
Rescuers continued Saturday to search for survivors among the ruins of flooded homes in beach towns along Florida's southwest coast.
The city of Fort Myers, which took the brunt of the storm, saw numerous businesses and homes destroyed.
Offshore, Sanibel Island, a popular destination for vacationers and retirees, was cut off when a causeway was rendered impassable.
New images from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed several beach cottages and a motel building on Sanibel were wiped away by the storm surge.
Across Florida, thousands of people were still unaccounted for, officials said, but many of them were likely in shelters or without power.
Meanwhile, new problems emerged as heavy rains from the storm flowed into suburban and inland towns not part of hurricane warnings.
Water levels in many areas have risen significantly, turning roads into canals, flooding cars and trucks and leaving families trapped in their waterlogged homes.
Residents in the flooded Sarasota suburb of North Port told The Associated Press on Saturday they were beginning to run out of food and water.
A 14-mile (22-kilometer) stretch of Interstate 75 was closed late Friday in the Port Charlotte area because of massive and speedy water swells in the Myakka River.
Sixteen migrants also remain missing from a boat that sank during the hurricane on Wednesday, according to the US Coast Guard.
Two people were found dead and nine others rescued, including four Cubans who swam to shore in the Florida Keys.
What's the latest from the Carolinas?
Ian was downgraded from category 4 to category 1 hurricane by the time it made a second landfall in South Carolina on Friday but still caused widespread devastation.
Among the areas worst hit was Georgetown, north of the historic city of Charleston, where winds speeds of 85 mph (140 kph) were recorded.
On Saturday, about half of Pawleys Island, a beach community about 73 miles (117 kilometers) up the coast from Charleston, remained without power.
Island residents described seeing waves as high as 25 feet (7.6 meters) wash away the pier, one of four along South Carolina's coast to be destroyed.
The long stretch of narrow waterway between the island and the mainland was littered with the remnants of several boat houses.
In North Carolina, the storm appeared to have mainly downed trees and power lines, leaving over 280,000 people across the state without power on Saturday, according to state officials.
US President Joe Biden on Saturday declared an emergency in North Carolina, having made similar announcements for the other states earlier.
The declarations make federal resources available to areas impacted by the storm.
Storm-caused blackouts spark Cuba protests
Rare protests broke out in Cuba for a second night into Saturday after much of the capital Havana faced blackouts from Hurricane Ian.
Protesters chanted anti-government slogans and even called for freedom in the Communist island.
Security forces were deployed but no clashes or arrests were observed.
Ian slammed into Cuba on Tuesday, killing at least 3 people and knocking out power to the entire country of 11 million.
Officials said electricity would return for most city residents by the end of the weekend.
Ian downgraded again
Now downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone, Ian continued to weaken on Saturday.
The storm is still forecast to bring treacherous conditions to parts of the Central Appalachians and Mid-Atlantic.
Human-induced climate change is resulting in more severe weather events across the globe, scientists say — including with Ian.
According to preliminary analysis by US scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which is yet to face peer review, Ian unleashed more than 10% more rain that a similar storm likely would have done without human-induced climate change.