Ian was downgraded to a tropical storm Thursday morning after leaving 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 2 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 as a Category 4 storm, threatening catastrophic flooding inland, the National Hurricane Center warned.
The center’s 5 am Thursday advisory said Ian was expected to emerge over Atlantic waters later on Thursday, with flooding rains continuing across central and northern Florida.
As of the latest advisory, Ian was about 40 miles southeast of Orlando, and it was moving northeast at 8 mph with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph.
A turn toward the north-northeast is expected later Thursday, followed by a turn toward the north and north-northwest with an increase in forward speed Friday and Friday night.
WATCH LIVE: Tropical Storm Ian’s latest forecast
On the forecast track, the center of Ian is expected to move off the east-central coast of Florida later Thursday and then approach the coast of South Carolina on Friday. The center will move farther inland across the Carolinas Friday night and Saturday.
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.
The main threat for our area has been the heavy rainfall and localized flooding. Radar estimates 8 to 10 inches of rain has fallen across parts of Miami-Dade and Broward counties since Monday, with the highest totals so far from North Miami to Hollywood, Davie, Sunrise, and Coral Springs.
Tornadoes have been confirmed in Broward County and Delray Beach.
According to Broward officials, downed trees have also been reported throughout the county, which crews are working to remove.
A handful of traffic signals were also damaged and are being worked on. Drivers should remember that intersections with flashing red lights or no lights should be treated as a four-way stop.
As of Thursday morning, 7,610 FPL customers were out of power in Miami-Dade County and 4,950 in Broward.
Visit https://www.fplmaps.com/ for information on the latest power outages.
On Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that tolls have been suspended on Alligator Alley as the storm nears. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said all non-essential services in the county will remain suspended Thursday.
Miami-Dade County will resume countywide transit services, however, on Thursday, including the Metrobus, Metrorail, Metromover, and Special Transportation Services (STS).
Waste collection for Broward County will resume Thursday.
Broward County Transit is operating on a normal schedule Thursday.
Miami-Dade and Broward have canceled classes for Wednesday and Thursday.
Monroe County schools will resume on Thursday.
Florida Atlantic University will be closed Thursday.
Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport remain open but are experiencing numerous cancellations and delays. Check with your airline for the latest updates.
Airports in the Florida Keys are closed until further notice.
On Sunday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the deployment of the Florida National Guard.
President Joe Biden approved the emergency declaration for Florida on Saturday to make Federal Emergency Management Agency aid available to the state and the Miccosukee and Seminole tribes.
The Florida Disaster Fund to support Florida’s communities impacted by Hurricane Ian has been activated.
To contribute, please visit www.FloridaDisasterFund.org or text DISASTER to 20222.
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Copyright 2022 by WPLG Local10.com – All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.