November 28, 2022

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Ian leaves dozens dead as the focus shifts to rescue and recovery

Ian leaves dozens dead as the focus shifts to rescue and recovery

FORT MYERS, Florida (AFP) – Rescuers searched for survivors among the rubble of flooded Florida homes from Hurricane Ian as authorities in South Carolina began assessing the damage from the strike there as the remnants of one of the most powerful The more costly hurricanes to hit the United States continued to push north.

The powerful storm frightened millions of people most days of the week, hitting western Cuba before it roamed Florida from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic, where it mustered enough strength for a final assault on South Carolina. Now weakened by a post-tropical cyclone, Ian was expected to move through North Carolina and then on to Virginia and New York.

At least 31 people have been confirmed killed, including 27 in Florida Most of them are drowning but others are the tragic effects of the storm. Authorities said an elderly couple died after their oxygen machines stopped when the electricity went out.

Chris Schnapp was at the Sanibel Marina in Fort Myers on Saturday, waiting to see if her 83-year-old mother-in-law had been evacuated from Sanibel Island. A pontoon boat had just arrived with a load of passengers from the island – with bags and animals in Qatar – but Schnapp’s mother-in-law was not among them.

“I’ve stayed on the island. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law own two businesses there. They were evacuated. She didn’t want to go, thinking it wouldn’t be bad,” Schnapp said. Now whether she was still on the island or got on a bus,” she was taken to a shelter, Schnapp said.

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South Carolina’s Pawleys Island, a beach community about 73 miles (117 kilometers) off the coast from Charleston, was among the places hardest hit by Ian, and electricity remained cut off to at least half of the island on Saturday.

Eddie Wilder, who has been coming to Pawleys Island for more than six decades, said Friday’s storm was “crazy to watch.” He said waves as high as 25 feet (7.6 meters) washed away the pier — a landmark — just two doors from his home.

“We watched it hit the pier and we saw the pier disappear,” said Wilder, whose home is 30 feet (9 meters) above the ocean and kept dry inside. “We watched it collapse and we watched it float with the American flag still floating.”

Pawleys Pier was one of at least four along the South Carolina coast that was destroyed during Ian’s winds and rains. Portions of the pier, including spires covered with gargoyles, littered the shore. The inland waterway was littered with the remains of several boat houses that had been torn apart and had their poles scrapped in the storm.

Traffic was closed to the southernmost point on Pawleys Island, as crews were working to clear roads of sand and other debris that officials said had accumulated at least a foot high. The sand will later be redistributed to rebuild the dunes along the beach front, as it did after a similar wash in 2019.

Many high-rise beach homes still have feet of sand underneath, with the dunes scattered almost entirely and almost completely.

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John Joseph, whose father built the family’s beige beach house in 1962, said Saturday he was thrilled to be back from Georgetown — which took a direct hit — to find his Pawleys home intact.

“Thank God these walls are still here, and we feel that is the worst thing,” he said of the sand that he swept under his house. “What happened in Florida — oh my God, God bless us. If we had a Class 4, I wouldn’t be here.”

In North Carolina, the storm appeared to mainly down trees and power lines, leaving more than 280,000 people across the state without power late Saturday morning, according to state officials.

At least one storm-related death was reported in Johnston County, outside of Raleigh. Capt. Jeff Caldwell at the sheriff’s office said a woman found her husband dead early Saturday after he went to check on a generator running in their garage all night.

The storm’s winds were much weaker on Friday than during Ian’s landing on the Florida Gulf Coast earlier in the week. Authorities and volunteers there are still assessing the damage as traumatized residents try to understand what they have just experienced.

Anthony Rivera, 25, said he had to climb through the window of his first-floor apartment in Fort Myers during the storm to take his grandmother and girlfriend up to the second floor. As they were rushing to escape the rising waters, a storm swept a boat next to his apartment.

“It’s the scariest thing in the world,” he said, “because I can’t stop any boat.” “I’m not Superman.”

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Other residents waded in a daze in the knee-high waters on Friday, salvaging whatever belongings they could from their flooded homes and loading them onto boats and boats.

“I want to sit in the corner and cry,” Stevie Scuderi said after scouring her mostly devastated apartment in Fort Myers, mud in her kitchen clinging to her purple sandals.

On Saturday, a long line of people waited outside the O’Reilly auto parts store in Port Charlotte, where a sign read, “We have generators now.” Hundreds of cars queued outside a Wawa gas station, and some people with gas cans walked to their nearby cars.

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Kennard reported from Pawleys Island, South Carolina. Associated Press contributors include Anthony Izaguirre in Tallahassee, Florida; Terry Spencer and Tim Reynolds in Fort Myers, Florida; Cody Jackson in Tampa, Florida; Frida Frisaro in Miami; Mike Schneider in Orlando, Florida; Daniel Cousin in Northport, Florida; Seth Bornstein in Washington; Bobby Kayna Calvan in New York; and Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, South Carolina.