Live updates: Ian death count in Florida rises to 23

Hurricane Ian

(NewsNation) — A resurgent Hurricane Ian made landfall in South Carolina Friday, after carving a path of destruction across Florida and leaving people trapped in their homes.

With all of South Carolina’s coast under a hurricane warning, a steady stream of vehicles left Charleston earlier this week, many likely heeding officials’ warnings to seek higher ground. Storefronts were sandbagged to ward off high water levels in an area prone to inundation.

10:00 p.m. CT: Florida state senator says hurricanes like Ian are “future of hurricanes”

Railing against the impacts of climate change on the severity of hurricanes, Florida state Sen. Janet Cruz, D, said hurricanes matching the power of Ian would be the “future of hurricanes” in Florida.

9:41 p.m. CT: Power outages rise in North Carolina, Virginia

The number of people in North Carolina has risen to 371,000 as post-tropical storm Ian worked its way along the state’s coastline. In Virginia 96,000 people are without power, 96,000 people were also without power in South Carolina. The number of people in Florida without power dropped, but still sat at 1.3 million, according to PowerOutage.us.

8:55 p.m. CT: Death toll rises in Florida

The death toll in Florida rose to 23 as officials confirmed multiple drowning deaths and several other fatalities while sorting through the aftermath of Hurricane Ian which pummeled the state on Thursday.

Authorities say they expect the death count to rise significantly in coming days.

6:55 p.m. CT: Family with six corgis rescued in Florida

6:45 p.m. CT: “Indescribable” evacuations occur at Florida hospitals

At least nine hospitals and a dozen nursing homes had to frantically evacuate patients and residents as Hurricane Ian hit Florida on Thursday.

6:31 p.m. CT: NewsNation reporter rides along with search and rescue team

NewsNation reporter Brian Entin rode along with a search and rescue team on Sanibel Island as they searched for survivors and victims of Hurricane Ian.

5:45 p.m. CT: Body found in search for migrants caught in storm

Another body was recovered in the search for migrants who were caught in the heat of Hurricane Ian off the coast of Florida. Their vessel sank in the Florida Keys.

5:15 p.m. CT: “Don’t even think about looting”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said one of his main areas of concern in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian was “maintaining law and order.” He then issued a warning saying “don’t even think about looting. Don’t even think about taking advantage of a vulnerable situation.”

5:10 p.m. CT: DeSantis: Bridge repair won’t happen “overnight”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday bridges in Florida, like one that leads to Sanibel Island, that were severed by Hurricane Ian will be repaired, but said repairs are a process that “won’t happen overnight.” He said ferries and boats will run from the mainland to the island in the meantime.

A section of the Sanibel Causeway was lost due to the effects of Hurricane Ian Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

4:45 p.m. CT: Volunteers saving lives on Sanibel Island

4:15 p.m. CT: Watch an emergency crew rescue 2 people, 3 cats from storm

Emergency crews working on Sanibel Island in Florida used a helicopter to rescue two people and three cats stranded at their flooded home by Hurricane Ian.

3:55 p.m. CT: Ian now considered a post-tropical cyclone

Hurricane Ian has been reclassified as a post-tropical cyclone as it slowly moves past South Carolina toward North Carolina.

3:45 p.m. CT: Coast Guard rescues crew of washed up trolling boat

3:35 p.m. CT: Rainbow emerges over Georgetown after storm

3:15 p.m. CT: Orange County, Fla. officials still evacuating residents

3:10 p.m. CT: Millions without power on East Coast

Millions of people across Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia were still without power Friday afternoon, according to PowerOutage.us. In Florida, 1.7 million were still without power; South Carolina has 219,000 without power; North Carolina has 92,000 and Virginia has 10,800 without power.

3 p.m. CT Charleston, South Carolina police back to full service

Charleston police announced on Facebook they are back to full service after sheltering in place and only answering critical calls because of weather conditions.

Caden Simmons, a 16-year-old local resident, walks with a U.S. flag on a flooded street after he recovered it from flood waters, as Hurricane Ian bears down on Charleston, South Carolina, U.S., September 30, 2022. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

2:44 p.m. Governor says Ian could bring trouble to central and eastern North Carolina

As heavy rain and winds from the hurricane come into North Carolina, power outages have increased and some coastal rivers rose.

Gov. Roy Cooper warned some adjustments to Ian’s projected path could bring more trouble to the central and eastern portions of the state, but added that North Carolina’s emergency equipment and services have been staged to maximize flexibility.

2:15 p.m. Beach piers in South Carolina getting destroyed by Hurricane Ian

Local television footage showed the middle section of the Cherry Grove Pier was washed away by rising water and churning waves. This comes after another popular beach pier, the Pawleys Island pier, broke apart in the winds and rains from Ian earlier in the day.

The Pawleys Island Police Department said in a tweet Friday that a portion of the pier had “collapsed” and was floating south.

University of Central Florida students use an inflatable mattress as they evacuate an apartment complex near the campus that was totally flooded by rain from Hurricane Ian, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. AP Photo/John Raoux)

2 p.m. Lee County, Florida confirms 16 storm-related deaths

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said on Facebook 21 deaths have been reported as of Friday, but five of them were not because of the storm.

“As my team continues search & rescue efforts, these numbers could change,” Marceno wrote. “Our hearts go out to friends & family who have lost their loved ones in this tragic storm. We are here for you & we will continue to get through this together.”

1:54 p.m. CT Over 180,000 without power in South Carolina

After Ian made landfall, PowerOutage.us showed 185,599 were without electricity in South Carolina, while 55,533 were out in North Carolina.

1:20 p.m. CT National Hurricane Center says Ian made landfall near Georgetown, South Carolina

NHC said surface observations indicate the center of Hurricane Ian made landfall at 3:05 p.m. local time near Georgetown, South Carolina with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph. Ian is a Category 1 hurricane.

1:00 p.m. CT Center of Hurricane Ian about to make landfall, National Hurricane Center says

Hurricane conditions will occur in the Hurricane Warning areas of South Carolina and southeastern North Carolina soon, the NHC said. A few tornadoes are possible through this evening across eastern North Carolina, and will shift northward into southeast Virginia Friday night into early Saturday morning, the National Hurricane Center said.

Ian is expected to produce a total rainfall of 4 to 8 inches with local maxima of 12 inches in Northeast South Carolina, while central South Carolina, Carolina and southern Virginia can expect 3 to 6 inches.

12:35 p.m. Biden speaks on Hurricane Ian federal response

The president said he approved a South Carolina Emergency declaration to free up federal funds to assist the state.

“By approving it early, ahead of the storm’s landfall in South Carolina, we can get supplies in and provide shelter if necessary,” he said.

Meanwhile in Florida, Biden said, we’re “just beginning to see the scale of the destruction” from Hurricane Ian.

The storm is “likely to rank among the worst in the nation’s history,” he said.

“It’s going to take months, years to rebuild,” Biden said. “America’s heart is literally breaking.”

So far, state, local and federal first responders have rescued 117 people on the Southwest Florida coast, he said.

A boat displaced by Hurricane Ian rests atop a car in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

12:30 p.m. CT Charleston County temporarily suspends EMS operations

Officials said in a tweet they are pausing response efforts because of current wind conditions. They will resume service once it is safe to do so.

12:17 p.m. CT Charleston, South Carolina police only responding to critical calls

The City of Charleston Police Department said on Facebook that officers are now sheltering in place at area substations because of current weather conditions.

“We will update, and expect to return to full service shortly,” police said.

Charleston Police are also restricting access to the city’s Battery area, which is home to many historic homes.

11:47 a.m. Sarasota County Schools in Florida closed

After assessing facilities for damage from Hurricane Ian, Sarasota County Schools will be closed until further notice, the district said on Facebook.

“Sadly, there has been much devastation in our county and schools including massive power outages, down power lines, flooding, cellular & cable outages, basic water and plumbing issues, and damage to many of our school structures,” Sarasota County Schools wrote. “We will reopen once we can ensure the safety and wellbeing of all our students and employees in our schools.”

According to NPR, millions of k-12 students missed school in Florida because every public school district in the state closed its buildings. Around 1.7 million missed three days or more, NPR said.

11:19 a.m. CT  President Joe Biden will make an address about Hurricane Ian and federal efforts to support Florida, South Carolina and other impacted states.

That address is expected after his comments on Rosh Hashanah.

10:00 a.m. CT: Powerful winds gusts bend tree branches in South Carolina

Strong winds blew Friday morning in Charleston, South Carolina, with powerful gusts bending tree branches and sending sprays of steadily falling rain sideways, the Associated Press reported.

Ian sustained its maximum winds near 85 mph, with higher gusts, the National Hurricane Center said. Its hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles from the center and tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 275 miles.

In an update, the National Hurricane Center said Ian is accelerating toward the coast. The NHS says it could come ashore this afternoon. Currently, it is 60 miles east-southeast of Charleston, sweeping to the north at 14 mph, the Washington Post reported.

On Facebook, the city of Charleston said some roads are already closed. As of Friday morning, police said there were 24 road closures and 18 traffic lights out throughout the city.

8:30 a.m. CT: Charleston airport closed as Ian nears

The main airport in Charleston, South Carolina, has closed ahead of the expected arrival of Hurricane Ian.

Officials with the Charleston International Airport said Friday they had shuttered the airport, where airlines had already canceled dozens of fights, and winds reached 40 mph.

The airport will remain closed until 6 a.m. Saturday.

8:00 a.m. CT: Gov. Ron DeSantis says search efforts are continuing

DeSantis held a press conference Friday morning and said search and rescue efforts were still underway.

6:45 a.m. CT: Ian set to make landfall later Friday

Ian was forecast to make landfall somewhere between Charleston and Myrtle Beach sometime Friday, according to NewsNation meteorologist Gerard Jebaily. NewsNation is expecting Hurricane Ian to make landfall in the area from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. local time. 

6:00 a.m. CT: Most Collier County, FL grocery stores to reopen

Most grocery stores in Florida’s Collier County, which includes Naples and Marco Island, will reopen Friday, according to the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.

“The lines will be long and traffic very congested,” the office said in an update, urging residents to only go to the store if absolutely necessary. 

Officials also urged residents to use caution when traveling to stores because many of them are located near major intersections that may not have functional traffic lights.

County officials are getting generators to those traffic lights that are without power, the update added, but said that it takes at least five deputies to staff traffic control at one light 24 hours a day. 

5:45 a.m. CT: Flash flood warning issued for Charleston, South Carolina

A flash flood warning is in effect for the Charleston metro area until 12 p.m. EST. Considerable flash flooding is expected from Hurricane Ian’s heavy rainfall, according to the National Weather Service in Charleston.

“As tide levels increase and rain intensifies, areas of flash flooding are likely to develop ahead of Hurricane Ian,” the NWS in Charleston tweeted.

So far, 1 to 2 inches of rain has already fallen with an additional 2 to 6 inches expected. As tides continue to rise and rainfall rates continue to increase flash flooding will begin.

5 a.m. CT: Carolinas brace for life-threatening storm surge

Storms were beginning to hit the Carolina coasts early Friday as Ian advanced north from the Atlantic Ocean.

The storm system was about 145 miles south-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, as of 5 a.m. Friday, the National Hurricane Center said in an update.

As it moves north-northeast at 9 mph, Ian is expected to pick up forward speed Friday morning, according to the update.

North Carolina and South Carolina are forecast to be pummeled by “life-threatening storm surge and hurricane conditions” as Ian moves closer Friday afternoon, the hurricane center said.

4 a.m. CT: 2 million without power across Florida and more than 4,000 without power across South Carolina

In Florida, 2,022,501 homes and businesses across the state are still without power as of 4 a.m. CT Friday, according to PowerOutage.us.

Florida Power & Light, the state’s largest energy provider, tweeted that storm conditions are making repairs difficult.

“Downed trees, high winds and flooding are posing challenges but we’re working around the clock to repair and restore all areas,” the utility said, noting in a separate statement that especially bad conditions in southwest Florida may delay repairs further.

In South Carolina, 4,656 homes and businesses across the state were without power as of 5 a.m. CT Friday according to PowerOutage.us.

Power outages were reported across the Lowcountry as Hurricane Ian lashes the South Carolina coast.

2 a.m. CT: The National Hurricane Center places Ian about 175 miles southeast of Charleston

With winds holding at 85 mph, the National Hurricane Center’s update at 2 a.m. Friday placed Ian about 175 miles southeast of Charleston and forecast a “life-threatening storm surge” and hurricane conditions along the Carolina coastal area later Friday.

The hurricane warning stretched from the Savannah River to Cape Fear, with flooding rains likely across the Carolinas and southwestern Virginia, the center said.

An earlier forecast predicted a storm surge of 5 feet into coastal areas of Georgia and the Carolinas. Rainfall of up to 8 inches threatened flooding from South Carolina to Virginia.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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