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Florida faces devastation from Hurricane Ian

"We have two deaths that are not yet confirmed, as we do not know if they are related to the storm", although it is "probable", specified Ron DeSantis.

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Florida faces devastation from Hurricane Ian

"We have two deaths that are not yet confirmed, as we do not know if they are related to the storm", although it is "probable", specified Ron DeSantis.

"We have never seen floods like this," he said.

“Some of these areas, Cape Coral, the city of Fort Myers, were really flooded and really devastated by this storm,” the governor continued, referring to “historic” damage.

Ian, since downgraded to a tropical storm, made landfall Wednesday afternoon as a Category 4 hurricane (on a scale of 5) in southwest Florida, before continuing its passage through the state, carrying strong winds and torrential rains.

It is still too early to draw up an assessment, but some material damage was already visible a few hours after the passage of the hurricane.

Thursday morning, more than 2.6 million homes or businesses remained without electricity, out of a total of 11 million, according to the specialized site PowerOutage.

- "Incessant" - 

Punta Gorda, a small coastal town located in the path of the hurricane, woke up without power. As firefighters and police roamed the streets to assess the damage, a bulldozer cleared fallen palm branches.

Ian uprooted some trees and knocked down utility poles and street signs. Its rains flooded the streets of the marina, where the water was still up to the calves on Thursday morning.

Townsman Joe Ketcham chose to stay home on Wednesday, despite evacuation orders.

"For now I'm relieved, but yesterday I was worried," the 70-year-old said.

"It was incessant, it was constantly blowing above our heads. We could hear the metal banging against the building. It was dark. We didn't know what was going on outside," he said.

Lisamarie Pierro, who also lives in the city, said she was relieved to see her house "still standing", without flooding.

"It was long and intense. And then it stopped. And then again," she explained.

- Possible reinforcement -

Faced with the extent of the damage, US President Joe Biden declared a state of major natural disaster on Thursday morning, a decision to release additional federal funds for the affected regions.

In Naples, images from the MSNBC channel showed completely flooded streets and cars floating in the current.

The Southwest Florida city's fire chief, Pete DiMara, told CNN that his fire station was suddenly flooded by up to two meters of water, preventing his crews from responding to calls for fire. emergency.

Slightly away from the hurricane's path, near the US archipelago of the Keys, poor conditions capsized a boat carrying migrants.

On Thursday morning, the Coastguard was looking for another 20 people, with three having been rescued the day before and four others having managed to swim to shore.

Although weakened, Storm Ian continued its destructive course towards South Carolina on Thursday.

It creates winds of up to 100 km / h and "catastrophic" flooding in east-central Florida, according to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Ian is expected to emerge over the western Atlantic by day's end, according to the NHC, which forecasts further light reinforcement of Ian, which "could approach hurricane strength when will arrive near the South Carolina coast on Friday".

As the surface of the oceans warms, the frequency of the most intense hurricanes, with stronger winds and greater precipitation, increases, but not the total number of hurricanes.

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