NewsHurricane "Ian" hits Florida - major damage expected

Hurricane "Ian" hits Florida – major damage expected

Created: 09/28/2022 Updated: 09/29/2022 02:52 am

Sailboats are blown about in Roberts Bay in western Florida. © Pedro Portal/El Nuevo Herald via ZUMA Press/dpa

Hurricane Ian wreaked havoc in Cuba. Now the dangerous hurricane has arrived in Florida. The authorities warn of massive damage. The first pictures give cause for concern.

Tallahassee/Cape Coral – The “extremely dangerous” hurricane “Ian” has made landfall on the west coast of the US state of Florida. The US hurricane center warned of meter-high storm surges, flooding and heavy rainfall.

The authorities expected severe damage to infrastructure, communication lines and widespread and prolonged power outages. Evacuation instructions apply to around 2.5 million people in the region.

The center of the cyclone of magnitude four out of five hit the coast in the afternoon at the offshore island of Cayo Costa near the city of Cape Coral, as the meteorologists said. “Ian” had increased in strength over the Gulf of Mexico and, with wind speeds of around 240 kilometers per hour, was just below the threshold for the highest hurricane category.

More than a million households are already without electricity

The first photos and videos on social media showed severe flooding in the cities of Fort Myers Beach, Cape Coral and Naples, some of which were several meters high. More than a million homes in Southwest Florida were without power by mid-afternoon, according to the Poweroutage website.

Governor Ron DeSantis said authorities are ready for salvage and repair work as soon as weather permits. He wrote on Twitter that around 7,000 National Guard soldiers and 179 planes or helicopters were ready. In addition, more than 40,000 technicians from the utility companies were already on hand to repair power lines. According to the US Hurricane Center, power outages resulting from the “catastrophic damage” of a category hurricane can last four weeks or months, and entire regions could be uninhabitable.

The storm system is now expected to move slowly over land in a north-easterly direction. “Ian” should soon lose strength, the hurricane center said. The hurricane could still have destructive hurricane strength on Thursday when it arrived on the east coast of the state, the meteorologists warned.

The director of the National Hurricane Center, Ken Graham, emphasized that it will probably take 24 hours after arriving on land for the hurricane to pass over Florida. That means 24 hours of heavy rain. In parts of Florida, 50 to 60 centimeters of rain are expected in a very short time. Even if the hurricane pulls away, there is still a risk of debris, broken power lines and the like.

Governor: The next few days will be ‘very ugly’

DeSantis had previously prepared the population in his state for serious damage. “This is a big, strong storm,” DeSantis said in the Florida capital, Tallahassee. “He’s going to do a lot of damage,” he warned. The Republican politician predicted that the next day or two would be “very ugly” before the hurricane passed Florida. “It’s going to be a tough track.”

Deanne Criswell of the US Disaster Management Agency FEMA said the region expected to be affected by the storm had not experienced such a hurricane for around 100 years. It is important that people who have not lived in the southeastern state for long and have little experience with hurricanes take the matter seriously. Experts are also concerned that in the past few decades the region has been built closer and closer to the water. Floods could damage or destroy many buildings.

Biden promises support to affected communities

The US Department of Defense said Florida has positioned soldiers and equipment at bases across the state to prepare them for deployment to storm-hit areas. The National Guard can take care of clearing streets and help with search and rescue operations. President Joe Biden promised the state and the affected communities all support – including for the necessary construction after the storm.

Entwurzelter Baum
A Florida tree uprooted by the strong outer band winds of Hurricane Ian. © Wilfredo Lee/AP/dpa

“Ian” made landfall in Cuba on Tuesday as a category three of five hurricane. In the province of Pinar del Río, which was particularly hard hit, two people died after their houses collapsed, the Cuban government said. In the state with a good eleven million inhabitants, the power went out at times across the country.

Hurrikan „Ian“ - Florida
In front of the Miami skyline, kite surfers take advantage of the strong winds caused by Hurricane Ian. © Rebecca Blackwell/AP/dpa

Meanwhile, a boat carrying migrants from Cuba sank off the coast of Florida. The US Coast Guard was looking for 23 people on Wednesday, as announced on Twitter. Four migrants had previously reached US Stock Island off Key West by swimming from the boat in stormy weather conditions, sources said. dpa

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