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Thursday, December 8, 2022
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Thursday, December 8, 2022
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    Hurricane Ian heads for Carolinas after pounding Florida

    CHARLESTON (AP) – A revived Hurricane Ian set its sights on South Carolina’s coast yesterday and the historic city of Charleston, with forecasters predicting a storm surge and floods after the megastorm caused catastrophic damage in Florida and left people trapped in their homes.

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

    Yesterday in Charleston, powerful wind gusts bent tree branches and sent sprays of steadily falling rain sideways. Streets in the 350-year-old city were largely empty, an ordinarily packed morning commute silenced by the advancing storm.

    With winds holding at 140 kilometre per hour (kph), the National Hurricane Center’s update at 8am yesterday placed Ian about 175 kilometre (km) southeast of Charleston and forecast a “life-threatening storm surge” and hurricane conditions along the Carolina coastal area yesterday.

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

    Damaged homes and businesses in Fort Myers Beach. PHOTO: AP

    The forecast predicted a storm surge of up to 2.1 metres into coastal areas of the Carolinas, and rainfall of up to 20 centimetres.

    In Florida, rescue crews piloted boats and waded through riverine streets on Thursday to save thousands of Floridians trapped amid flooded homes and buildings shattered by Hurricane Ian.

    Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said at least 700 rescues, mostly by air, were conducted on Thursday involving the United States (US) Coast Guard, the National Guard and urban search-and-rescue teams.

    Ian had come ashore on Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast as a monstrous Category 4 hurricane, one of the strongest storms ever to hit the US. It flooded homes on both the state’s coasts, cut off the only road access to a barrier island, destroyed a historic waterfront pier and knocked out electricity to 2.6 million Florida homes and businesses – nearly a quarter of utility customers. Some 2.1 million of those customers remained in the dark days afterward.

    Climate change added at least 10 per cent more rain to Hurricane Ian, according to a study prepared immediately after the storm, said its co-author, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab climate scientist Michael Wehner.

    At least six people were confirmed dead in Florida, including two who died on Thursday afternoon when their car hydroplaned and overturned in a water-filled ditch in north Florida’s Putnam County, while three other people were reported killed in Cuba after the hurricane struck there on Tuesday.

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