Hurricane Ian latest: People trapped and 2.25 million without power as monster storm swamps Florida

Hurricane Ian: Waves flood roads in Key West as storm strengthens to category 4

Hurricane Ian, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the US, roared ashore in southwest Florida on Wednesday, turning streets into rivers as it knocked out power to 2.25 million people.

Destructive waves slammed into the southwest coast from Englewood to Bonita Beach including Charlotte Harbor, near the town of Punta Gorda, north of Fort Myers. As Ian plods across Florida in the next 24 hours, it is expected to drop 12 -18 inches of rain on top of coastal surges.

A coastal sheriff’s office reported receiving calls from people trapped in flooded homes. Several took to social media, sharing videos of debris-covered water sloshing towards their homes as they pleaded for rescue.

The storm surge flooded a lower-level emergency room in Port Charlotte, while part of the roof on a fourth-floor intensive care unit was torn down by fierce winds, according to a doctor working there.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis urged Floridians to hunker down, noting that it would be a “nasty” couple of days.

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What leaks, hurricanes and fires mean for NASA’s Artemis I moon mission launch date

As if launching a gigantic Moon rocket for the first time isn’t hard enough on its own, Nasa has faced multiple fuel leaks, engine troubles, and now a building fire and category 4 hurricane in its attempt to get the Artemis I mission launched before the end of the year.

As Nasa’s Space Launch System (SLS) Moon rocket and Orion spacecraft waiting out Hurricane Ian inside the Vehicle Assembly Building — essentially a giant rocket hangar — at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, a launch attempt that had been scheduled for Tuesday could now slip into the middle of October, or even into early November.

Nasa’s Artemis I mission will be the first test flight of the SLS rocket, which will send the solar powered Orion spacecraft on more than month-long journey to, around, and back from the Moon in an uncrewed shake down of the rocket and spacecraft system that Nasa homes will take humans back to the surface of the Moon in 2025.

Read more in this report from Jon Kelvey:

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Experts: Negative storm surge in Tampa Bay as Ian approached

Water drained from Tampa Bay on Wednesday as Hurricane Ian approached Florida’s Gulf Coast.

The storm eventually made landfall near Fort Myers, about 100 miles to the south.

A number of people posted photos on social media of themselves and others walking out onto the silty and sandy bay floor, despite warnings from local officials. Tampa Bay has a normal average deputy of about 12 feet (4 meters).

Curious sightseers walk in the receding waters of Tampa Bay due to the low tide and tremendous winds from Hurricane Ian in Tampa, Florida, Wednesday, September 28, 2022

(AP)

The phenomenon of the bay emptying also happened in 2017, when experts said Hurricane Irma caused a negative surge. Because a tropical storm’s winds blow counterclockwise, the winds at the northern edge of Hurricane Ian were blowing from east to west with so much force that they pushed the water from the bay into the Gulf of Mexico.

Water eventually refilled the bay.

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Naples Fire Department live streams water rescue

ICYMI: In the video, posted to the department’s social media, a group of rescuers helped a woman through deep water in a city street and into the safety of a partially flooded building.

“I’m going to take you there with me as long as I can swim there. This water is cold,” said a firefighter who was videoing the rescue.

The grateful resident can be heard thanking the firefighters as the video ended.

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More than 2.25 million customers without power in Florida

As of 1.57am ET, around 2,250,000 customers are currently without power in Florida because of Hurricane Ian, according to poweroutage.us.

Power outage figures in Florida

(Screengrab/poweroutage.us)

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People trapped, hospital damaged after Ian swamps southest Florida

Hurricane Ian left a path of destruction in southwest Florida, trapping people in flooded homes, damaging the roof of a hospital intensive care unit and knocking out power to two million people before aiming for the Atlantic Coast.

One of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit the United States barreled across the Florida peninsula overnight Wednesday, threatening catastrophic flooding inland, the National Hurricane Center warned.

In Port Charlotte, along Florida’s Gulf Coast, the storm surge flooded a lower-level emergency room in a hospital even as fierce winds ripped away part of the roof from its intensive care unit, according to a doctor who works there.

Water gushed down onto the ICU, forcing staff to evacuate the hospital’s sickest patients — some of whom were on ventilators — to other floors, said Dr. Birgit Bodine of HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital. Staff members used towels and plastic bins to try to mop up the sodden mess.

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Lara Trump sparks anger after sharing video of her driving toy car outside during Hurricane Ian

Lara Trump has sparked anger and concern after posting a video of her five-year-old son driving his toy car outside in the midst of heavy rain from Hurricane Ian.

The 39-year-old TV producer, who lives in Florida with her husband Eric Trump, shared the video to her Instagram on Wednesday of the couple’s son Eric Luke Trump. Trump and her spouse also share three-year-old daughter Carolina Dorothy Trump.

In the video, Trump’s son, who goes by the name Luke, could be seen driving his toy car in the middle of the street as rain from the Category four storm poured down. As he steered the vehicle, he held one hand over his eyes in an effort to shield his face from the rain.

My colleague Amber Raiken reports:

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Hurricane Ian: Catfish swims up road as devastating floods hit Florida

ICYMI: A catfish swam up a water-covered road as Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida on Wednesday, 28 September.

The storm made landfall as a Category 4, just shy of a monstrous Category 5, packing winds of 155mph.

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News outlets under fire over videos of reporters covering Hurricane Ian

A number of news organizations were criticized on social media on Wednesday for sending journalists to report in the path of Hurricane Ian.

In one such case, member of the Fox Weather team, Robert Ray, struggled to make it through a live report in severe wind and rain in Fort Myers.

“It’s really coming in right now, Neil, and it is tough to even speak, and I’m sorry … as we take the wrath of Ian coming into Fort Myers, and we can hear the sounds in the distance — pops, snaps — we need to be careful, things are getting dangerous here,” Ray said.

A number of observers wondered about Ray’s safety.

My colleague Abe Asher reports:

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Ian swamps southwest Florida, trapping people in homes

Hurricane Ian slammed the coast of Florida with 150mph (241kph) winds, trapping several people in their homes as streets turned to rivers.

More than 1.8 million Florida homes and businesses were left without electricity and nearly every home and business in three counties was without power.

Mark Pritchett stepped outside his home in Venice around the time the hurricane churned ashore from the Gulf of Mexico, about 35 miles to the south. He called it “terrifying”.

“I literally couldn’t stand against the wind,” Mr Pritchett wrote in a text message. “Rain shooting like needles. My street is a river. Limbs and trees down. And the worst is yet to come.”

Read more in this report:

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NOAA administrator dodges question linking Hurricane Ian to climate crisis

ICYMI: As Ian approached the US, Jamie Rohme, the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Hurricane Center, raised some eyebrows on Tuesday when he seemed to demur about linking the storm to the climate crisis during an interview on CNN.

Josh Marcus has the story.

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