Saturday, November 26, 2022

Hurricane Ian threatens flooding, winds near Florida coast

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scheduled tribe. Petersburg, Fla. (TN) — Florida residents rushed to climb into their homes, hid valuables on upper floors and fled from oncoming Hurricane Ian, fearing the terrible storm that left Cuba out of power and killed 11 million people. Left without power on Wednesday, devastating winds and flooding hit their state’s west coast.

“You can’t do anything about natural disasters,” said Vinod Nair, who on Tuesday drove inland from the Tampa area in search of a hotel in Orlando’s tourism district with his wife, son, dog and two kittens . “We live in a high-risk area, so we thought it best to evacuate.”

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Nair and his family were among at least 2.5 million residents of Florida who were ordered to evacuate in anticipation of a powerful storm, strong winds and flooding rains. Driven by the warm offshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Ian was gaining strength as a Category 3 hurricane on Tuesday after plowing the prized tobacco-growing region of western Cuba.

The US National Hurricane Center predicts that Ian could become a catastrophic Category 4 hurricane before thunderstorms off the southwest coast of Florida on Wednesday afternoon with winds of up to 130 mph (209 kph). Hurricane-force winds were expected in Florida before the storm’s eye wall moved inland.

“It’s a big storm, it’s going to kick up a lot of water,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said in the storm’s estimated path of 57,000 in the coastal city of Sarasota. He warned at a news conference: “This is the kind of storm that is life-threatening.”

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Ian’s forward motion slowed over the gulf, causing the storm to become wider and stronger. A hurricane warning covering a distance of about 220 miles (350 kilometers) in the state’s Fort Myers as well as Tampa and St. Petersburg could receive the first direct hit of a major hurricane since 1921.,

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday that a storm surge warning has been issued for the Lower Florida Keys. The storm is moving to the north-northeast about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southwest of Naples, Florida. Maximum winds are around 120 mph (193 kph) with higher gusts.

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Forecasters said the storm could reach 12 feet (3.6 m) if it occurred at high tide. Rainfall near the area of ​​the landslide can exceed 18 inches (46 cm).

Gil Gonzalez was not taking any chances. He cladded the windows of his Tampa home with plywood and laid out bags of sand to guard against any flooding. He and his wife packed their car with bottled water, flashlights, battery packs for their cell phones, and a camp stove before evacuation.

“All the prized possessions, we’ve put them upstairs at a friend’s house,” Gonzalez said.

Airports in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Key West are closed. The Disney World theme parks and Sea World in Orland all closed before the storm.

An England couple on vacation in Tampa found themselves facing a storm exit at a shelter. When the evacuation was ordered, Glyn and Christine Williams of London were told to leave their hotel near the beach. He could not get any flight from home as the airport was closed.

“Unfortunately, all the hotels are full or closed, so it looks like we’re going to be staying at one of the shelters,” said Christine Williams.

Her husband insisted that all would be well. “You know, you have to go with the flow,” said Glynn Williams. “So we’re quite happy to do what we’re doing.”

Damage was expected over a wide area of ​​Florida, 140 miles (225 kilometers) from the center of Ian’s tropical storm-force winds. Sudden flooding was possible throughout the state, and parts of its east coast faced the threat of a potential storm surge as Ian’s bands reach the Atlantic Ocean. The approach of the storm also gave separate tornado warnings.

Meanwhile, there was still uncertainty as to where the landfall would take place.

Florida Power and Light warned those en route to Ian to be prepared for days without electricity. As a precaution, hundreds of residents were being evacuated from several nursing homes in the Tampa area, where hospitals were also taking some patients.

Parts of Georgia and South Carolina could also see flooding rain and some coastal surge from Friday through Saturday. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp declared a pre-emptive state of emergency, ordering 500 National Guard troops on standby to respond as needed.

Before turning to Florida, Ian made landfall in Cuba’s Pinar del Río province early Tuesday, hitting sustained top winds of 125 mph (205 kph) and causing destruction in the island country’s world-famous tobacco belt.

Local government station Telepinner reported heavy damage at the main hospital in the city of Pinar del Río, tweeting photos of collapsed roofs, widespread rubble and fallen trees. No death was reported. Some people left the stricken area on foot with their children, while buses tried to ferry others through waterlogged streets. Others chose to stay in their damaged homes.

“It was terrifying,” said 49-year-old Yusimi Palacios, a resident of Pinar del Rio, inside her damaged home. “But here we are alive, and I only ask the Cuban Revolution to help me with the roof and mattress.”

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Today Nation News contributors include Christina Mesquita in Havana, Cuba; Cody Jackson in Tampa, Florida; Frida Frisaro in Miami; Anthony Izaguire in Tallahassee, Florida; Mike Schneider in Orlando, Florida; Seth Borenstein in Washington and Bobby Cana Calvan in New York.

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