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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Hurricane Ian Ravages Florida with Major Flooding and Power Cuts

State governor Ron De Santis described the major event as the “biggest flood event” southwest Florida has ever seen

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UNITED STATES. Florida: One of the most tumultuous storms to hit the US in modern history has left nearly 2.4 million homes and businesses in Florida without power and floodwaters surging inland.

Hurricane Ian made landfall at around 15:10 local time (19:10 GMT) on Wednesday, smashing into the coast with wind speeds of up to 241 km/h (150mph).

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Dramatic scenes online showed a hospital roof blown off, cars submerged and trees ripped out by their roots from the ground. The category four hurricane was later downgraded to a tropical storm.

However, residents were warned that the worst was yet to come in the next 24 hours, and the mayor of Tampa urged people to take shelter through the night into Thursday morning.

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“We are going to get the majority of the rain and the higher winds starting about 20:00, and they are going to last throughout the night,” Jane Castor said during a Wednesday evening briefing.

A Facebook message posted by the Weather Prediction Centre informed residents in the Central Florida Peninsula to expect “widespread life-threatening, catastrophic flash and urban flooding” continuing into Friday morning, with potentially up to 76cm (30ins) of rain falling locally.

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While residents were urged to evacuate from their homes, many decided to stay put and seek shelter indoors.

Mark Pritchett, who lives in the city of Venice, some 95km (60 miles) south of Tampa, described the “terrifying” moment he stepped outside his home as the hurricane made its way across the Gulf of Mexico.

He conveyed his traumatic experiences of the flood in a jarring text message to AP: “Rain shooting like needles. My street is a river.”

In Lee County, the southwest region where Ian made first contact. Police were prevented from responding to reports of looting at a gas station because of the storm damage. As a result, a curfew has been declared “until further notice”.

Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais said that the Fort Myers community had “been – to some extent – decimated“. According to news agency AFP, some neighbourhoods in the city of 80,000 had been left resembling lakes.

State governor Ron DeSantis described the major event as the “biggest flood event” southwest Florida has ever seen and announced the deployment of 7,000 National Guard troops to lead security and evacuation programs throughout the city in critical flood-hit areas.

Ian is now continuing to advance north through Florida.  Jacksonville International Airport, based in north-east Florida, cancelled all flights scheduled for Thursday.

It is expected to reach Georgia and South Carolina on Friday. Virginia has also joined Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida by declaring a state of emergency.

Moreover, Cuba’s western coast was hit by the hurricane on Tuesday, resulting in a brief power cut, eventually restored afterwards. Two people have been declared presumed dead in Cuba and more than 20 Cuban migrants are believed to be missing at sea amidst the storm.

President Joe Biden will receive a briefing on Thursday from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The POTUS has also additionally approved a relief package to Florida, declaring Ian a disaster.

The aid fund will send federal money to help state, tribal and local recovery efforts, including debris removal, emergency protective measures and hazard mitigation.

Crucially, it also makes federal funds available to individuals in specific counties, many in central Florida – Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota.

This would enable those in need to avail different amenities like temporary housing, home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other recovery programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the catastrophe.

Also Read: As Hurricane Ian Approaches, Cuba Orders Evacuation

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