Charleston, South Carolina — Florida’s death toll from Hurricane Ian rose to 33 Friday afternoon as Florida authorities confirmed several drowning and other fatalities, ABC News reported.
Florida law enforcement said the dead included a 22-year-old woman who was ejected from an ATV rollover Friday after a road wash in Manatee County, and a 71-year-old man who died of a head injury in a fall. Put rain shutters on the roof Wednesday. Many others died by drowning, including a 68-year-old woman who was swept into the sea by the waves.
Earlier in the week, the storm moved north and three other people died in Cuba. The death toll is expected to rise sharply when emergency officials have the opportunity to search many of the areas hardest hit by the storm.
Ian made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 85 mph near Georgetown, South Carolina, just after 2 p.m. Friday. It was downgraded to a tropical cyclone hours later.
Click here to see the latest forecasts for real-time radar and Ian’s path.
PHOTOS: Haunting aerial images show aftermath of Hurricane Ian on Sanibel Island in Fort Myers
After a deadly storm wreaked catastrophic damage in Florida and trapped thousands in their homes, a resurgent Hurricane Ian slammed into coastal South Carolina on Friday, tearing piers and flooding communities. Calf-high water.
Ian’s center made landfall near Georgetown with much weaker winds than when it crossed Florida’s Gulf Coast on Wednesday, one of the strongest storms to hit the U.S. on record. Ian fell from hurricane to tropical cyclone as it moved through South Carolina.
Heavy rain swept over trees and power lines, flooding many parts of the downtown Charleston peninsula. Four piers along the coast, including two in Myrtle Beach, collapsed in the churning waves and were washed away. Online cams show the water in Garden City flooding with calf levels.
Ian left swathes of devastation in Florida, flooding two of its coasts, demolishing homes from slabs, destroying waterfront businesses and leaving more than 2 million people without power. At least nine people have been confirmed dead in the U.S. — a number expected to rise as officials confirm more deaths and search for people.
Rescuers waded boats through river streets on Thursday to save thousands of people trapped in flooded homes and shattered buildings.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday that crews have gone door-to-door to more than 3,000 homes in the hardest-hit areas.
“It’s really been a tough endeavor,” he said at a news conference in Tallahassee.
Among the dead were an 80-year-old woman and a 94-year-old man whose oxygen machine had stopped working due to a power outage, as well as a 67-year-old man who was waiting for rescue and fell to the ground. Authorities said water levels in his home rose.
Officials fear the death toll could rise significantly given the vast area the storm has inundated.
Kevin Guthrie, director of the Florida Department of Emergency Management, said so far, responders have focused on a “rush” search aimed at emergency rescue and initial assessment, followed by two additional waves of searches. Responders who initially encountered possible remains left them without confirmation, he said Friday, citing a flooded home as an example.
“The water was over the roof, yes, but we had the Coast Guard rescue swimmer swimming down and he could determine that it appeared to be human remains. We don’t know how much,” Guthrie said.
Social media users desperate to find and rescue their loved ones shared the phone numbers, addresses and photos of their family and friends online for anyone who could see.
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Orlando residents returned to their flooded homes Friday, rolling up their pants and wading through the muddy, knee-high water on the streets. Friends of Ramon Rodriguez dropped ice cubes, bottled water and hot coffee at the entrance to his community, where 10 of 50 homes were flooded and the road looked like a lake. He had no electricity or food in his home, and his car was trapped in water.
“There’s water everywhere,” Rodriguez said. “The situation here is terrible.”
University of Central Florida students who live in apartment complexes near the Orlando campus arrived to retrieve belongings from their flooded units.
Nursing student Deandra Smith fell asleep while others evacuated and lived in her third-floor apartment with her dog. On Friday, other students helped her reach dry land by pushing her through a flooded parking lot on a pontoon bridge. She wasn’t sure if she should go back to her parents’ house in South Florida or find a shelter so she could still attend classes. “I’m still trying to figure it out,” she said.
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Devastating storm surges destroyed many older homes on Florida’s Sanibel Barrier Island and cut cracks in the sand dunes. The taller apartment buildings were intact, but the ground floor was blown up. There are trees and poles everywhere.
On Friday, municipal rescue workers, private teams and the Coast Guard used boats and helicopters to evacuate residents left behind by the storm before being cut off from the mainland when the causeway collapsed. Volunteers who traveled to the island on a private boat helped escort an elderly couple to an area where Coast Guard rescuers took them by helicopter.
Hours after Ian weakened to a tropical storm as it crossed the Florida peninsula, it regained strength over the Atlantic Ocean Thursday night. Ian made landfall in South Carolina with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph (140 km/h). When it hit Florida’s Gulf Coast on Wednesday, it was a powerful Category 4 hurricane with winds of 150 mph (240 kph).
After heavy rain in Charleston, Will Sarowski inspects a large elm tree in front of his home that fell on his downtown street. The damage could be more severe, he noted.
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“If the tree had fallen in a different way, it would have been in our house,” Shaloski said. “It’s scary and jarring.”
In North Carolina, heavy rainbands and high winds crept into the state Friday afternoon. Gov. Roy Cooper warned residents to remain vigilant as up to 8 inches (20.3 centimeters) of rain could be expected in some areas, along with strong winds.
“Hurricane Ian is on our doorstep. Heavy rain and persistent strong winds are expected across much of our state,” Cooper said. “Our message today is simple: Be smart and be safe.”
In Washington, President Joe Biden said he was directing “everything possible to save lives and help survivors.”
“Rebuilding will take months, years,” Biden said.
“I just want Floridians to know that we see what you’re going through and we’re with you.”
Reporting by Gomez Licon from Punta Gorda, Fla.; Associated Press contributors include Terry Spencer and Tim Reynolds in Fort Myers, Fla.; Cody Jackson in Tampa, Fla.; Freida Frisaro in Miami; Mike Schneider in Orlando, Florida; Seth Borenstein in Washington; and Bobby Caina Calvan in New York.
ABC News contributed to this report
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