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Friday, December 2, 2022

Death Toll in Florida Uncertain as Hurricane Ian Headed to Carolinas

US President Joe Biden said Ian could prove to be the deadliest storm in state history

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UNITED STATES: On Thursday, emergency crews and evacuation teams tried to reach stranded Florida residents as a resurgent Hurricane Ian steered its course toward the Carolinas after wreaking havoc across Florida. In its storm path, the hurricane left behind destruction on a huge scale across Florida, including deadly floodwaters, malfunctioning power lines and widespread property damage.

Ian, one of the most tumultuous storms to hit the U.S. mainland, flooded Gulf Coast communities and knocked out power to millions before pounding across the peninsula to the Atlantic Ocean, where it regained strength for its anticipated landfall in South Carolina on Friday afternoon.

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Amid the reports of property devastation, Florida’s death toll remained unclear. At an evening news briefing, Governor Ron DeSantis acknowledged some people had perished but warned against speculation before the confirmed numbers came in. “We fully expect to have mortality from this hurricane,” he said.

President Joe Biden, speaking earlier at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) headquarters in Washington, said Ian could prove to be the deadliest storm in state history.

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“The numbers are still unclear, but we’re hearing early reports of what substantial loss of life may be,” Biden said.

In hard-hit Charlotte County, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s department confirmed multiple casualties but did not have a firm figure. Meanwhile, authorities in Sarasota County were investigating two possible storm-related deaths, a sheriff’s spokesperson said.

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More than 2.3 million homes and businesses in Florida remained without power, according to tracking website PowerOutage.us.

Following Florida’s massive impact, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina began bracing for impact as Ian returned to hurricane strength by 5 p.m. ET (2100 GMT) after moving into the Atlantic Ocean, with maximum speed winds of 75 miles per hour (120 kph), the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

The storm was forecast to make landfall again at about 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT) on Friday north of Charleston. A hurricane warning was in effect for hundreds of miles of coastline from the South Carolina-Georgia border north to Cape Fear, North Carolina.

Charleston is particularly at risk, according to a city-commissioned report released in November 2020, which found about 90% of all residential properties were vulnerable to storm surge flooding.

Governor Roy Cooper urged residents to “take necessary precautions,” warning of possible flooding, landslides, and tornadoes. “This storm is still dangerous,” Cooper said.

Also Read: US President Joe Biden to Host “Unity” Summit to Combat Hate-Fuelled Violence

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