Hurricane “Ian” hits the USA: storm surge and power outages in Florida

Status: 09/29/2022 07:15 a.m

Tropical Storm Ian has caused flooding and severe damage on Florida’s west coast. Florida’s governor said the storm is likely to make the list of the five deadliest hurricanes in Florida.

Hurricane Ian has caused severe flooding and storm surges on the west coast of Florida. According to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, some of these reached a height of around three and a half meters and are “life-threatening”. 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.

Two million people without electricity

Despite the storm’s weakening, a strip of land more than a hundred kilometers wide was exposed to violent storms on its way. According to the governor, two million people were temporarily without power. Television pictures showed rain lashing the streets, only the roofs of cars sticking out of the floodwaters and debris flying through the air. A hospital in Port Charlotte is flooded.

Hurricane Ian wreaks havoc in Florida

Andrea Miosga, ARD Washington, Morning Magazine, September 29, 2022

One of Florida’s strongest hurricanes

With wind speeds of up to 150 kilometers per hour, “Ian” now has the lowest strength of one out of five, the hurricane center said. According to DeSantis, “Ian” should still make the list of the five worst hurricanes in Florida. The AFP news agency even reports that the storm is one of the strongest in US history.

The hurricane had increased significantly in strength over the Gulf of Mexico on its way towards Florida and, with wind speeds of around 240 kilometers per hour, was just below the threshold for the highest hurricane category five. “Ian” made landfall near the city of Cape Coral with a magnitude of four. The hurricane is currently further over Florida – according to experts, around 110 kilometers south of Orlando.

Danger still exists

Evacuation instructions applied to 2.5 million people in the region. Elsewhere, people were warned not to leave their homes – to assess the damage, for example. Even if the hurricane pulls away, there is still a risk of debris, broken power lines and the like. “Then you have broken power lines, continued flooding, generators could be life-threatening if used incorrectly,” the governor said. In previous hurricanes, there have often been ten times as many deaths in the days following a hurricane than during the storm itself.

Start salvage as soon as the weather permits

“Ian” could still face destructive hurricane force when it arrives on the state’s east coast today, weather forecasters warned. DeSantis said authorities are standing by for salvage and repairs as soon as weather permits. He wrote on Twitter that around 7,000 National Guard soldiers and 179 airplanes or helicopters could be deployed. In addition, more than 40,000 technicians from the utility companies were already on hand to repair power lines. In a speech, the governor also said that thousands of people now need help to rebuild.

24 hours of heavy rain

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. 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.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres called “Ian” “another example of dramatic climate action we are seeing around the world with increasing frequency and increasing devastation.”

Governor: Will be ‘very ugly days’

Florida’s governor DeSantis had previously prepared the population in his state for severe damage from the approaching hurricane “Ian”. “This is a big, strong storm,” DeSantis said. “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” until the hurricane passed over Florida. “It’s going to be a tough track.”

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

“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 electricity failed nationwide.

Hurricane Ian causes storm surges in Florida

Ralf Borchard, ARD Washington, September 29, 2022 5:19 a.m

With information from ARD Washington correspondent Ralf Borchard.

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