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Ian arrives in North Carolina after bringing flooding, damage to South Carolina; death toll rises in Florida

Hurricane Ian makes landfall in South Carolina 02:48

Follow Saturday's coverage for the latest updates. Our earlier story is below.

Ian weakened to a post-tropical storm Friday evening, the National Hurricane Center said, hours after making landfall in South Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane. The storm was moving inland over North Carolina overnight Friday, bringing the potential of flash flooding and gusty winds to that state.

The hurricane center said Ian made landfall near Georgetown, South Carolina, just after 2 p.m. Friday, with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph. Ian was expected to weaken Saturday and "dissipate early Sunday," the NHC reported.

The center of the storm was 60 miles southeast of Greensboro, North Carolina as of late Friday night, the NHC reported. It had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph, and was moving north at 15 mph. 

In Florida, the scope of devastation from the storm was starting to become clear, as rescue missions continued and power and water outages persisted. New images on Friday showed extensive wreckage and disastrous flooding. 

State emergency officials announced 21 deaths as of Friday morning, however they're not sure if all are directly related to the storm. Additionally, in Volusia County, the sheriff's department has confirmed two storm-related deaths there. As crews continue to conduct searches, the death toll could rise as officials learn more about the losses from Ian.


Ian pounds South Carolina; washes away piers and floods streets

Hurricane Ian in Charleston South Carolina
Rain from Hurricane Ian floods a street on Sept. 30, 2022, in Charleston, South Carolina.  Getty Images

Ian slammed coastal South Carolina as a hurricane on Friday, ripping apart piers and flooding streets after the ferocious storm caused catastrophic damage in Florida. As Ian moved across South Carolina on its way to North Carolina Friday evening, it dropped from a hurricane to a post-tropical cyclone.

While Ian's center came ashore near Georgetown, South Carolina, on Friday with much weaker winds than when it crossed Florida's Gulf Coast earlier in the week, the storm left many areas of Charleston's downtown peninsula under water. It also washed away parts of four piers along the coast, including two at Myrtle Beach.

Online cameras showed seawater filling neighborhoods in Garden City to calf level.

After the heaviest of the rainfall blew through Charleston, Will Shalosky examined a large elm tree in front of his house that had fallen across his downtown street. He noted the damage could have been much worse.

"If this tree has fallen a different way, it would be in our house," Shalosky said. "It's pretty scary, pretty jarring."

Ian's heavy rains and winds crossed into North Carolina on Friday evening. Gov. Roy Cooper warned residents to be vigilant, given that up to 8 inches of rain could fall in some areas.

"Hurricane Ian is at our door. Expect drenching rain and sustained heavy winds over most of our state," Cooper said. "Our message today is simple: Be smart and be safe."

By The Associated Press

Florida's DeSantis warns against looting amid hurricane recovery: "We're a Second Amendment state"

In a press conference addressing Hurricane Ian damage and recovery efforts, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Friday expressed concern over looting and robberies in impacted areas.

"The other thing we're concerned about, particularly in those areas that were really hard hit, is we want to make sure we're maintaining law and order," DeSantis said. "You can have people bringing boats into some of these islands and trying to ransack people's homes."

The governor warned the community against looting, implying that law enforcement would be watching for it. He also referenced the Second Amendment.

"Don't even think about looting. Don't even think about taking advantage of people in this vulnerable situation,"  DeSantis said. "I can tell you, in the state of Florida, you never know what may be lurking behind somebody's home. And I would not want to chance that, if I were you, given that we're a Second Amendment state."

DeSantis said that law enforcement was monitoring potential robberies. He also offered local jurisdictions state assistance in controlling crime, if necessary.

Lee County, on Florida's Gulf Coast, includes the cities of Fort Myers and Cape Coral, both of which were hard hit by the hurricane. Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno warned against looting in a press conference Thursday, threatening jail time. 

"Don't do it in this county. Don't make that mistake," Marceno said. "Because one thing we do have is vacancy at the jail. And I guarantee you if you try to prey on one of our great residents, you will find yourself in that jail."

By Simrin Singh

Ian knocks out power in Carolinas, Virginia

More than 60,000 residents are without power in Virginia as Ian moves further north, reported Friday night. To the south, over 270,000 people in North Carolina and 164,000 in South Carolina are in the dark.

Meanwhile, 1.5 million people still do not have power in Florida, several days after Ian swept across the peninsula.

By Sophie Reardon

Ports in Tampa Bay, Canaveral reopening

The ports of Tampa Bay and Canaveral both reopened on Friday, two days after Hurricane Ian forced them to close.

In Tampa Bay, cargo ships are moving in and out of the port. However, cruises have not yet resumed — the first will be the Carnival Paradise, which is scheduled to arrive on Saturday.

Across the peninsula, in Canaveral, vessels weighing 500 gross tons and less were welcomed back beginning at 4 p.m. The port said it would reopen to all traffic beginning at midnight.

By Sophie Reardon

"We've never seen anything like this": Severe floods swamp Orlando

Many houses and apartment complexes in Orlando, Florida, are still completely surrounded by water.

Lidianys de Dios stayed up all night as hurricane Ian hit, watching the rising water creep up to her front door, knowing that she has no flood insurance. She said she's never had flooding like this in her neighborhood.

"We've been in this house for like 16 years and then in the country for like 20-something years and we've never seen anything like this before," she said.

Across Orlando, airboats made their way through flooded neighborhoods all day Friday, rescuing residents who had no way out. Some braved the flooded streets by car, others used kayaks to get around.

"This is definitely the worst hurricane I've been through," said Orlando resident Juan Ceballos, who was evacuated by the National Guard. "We just packed like a quick tub full of stuff and walked out."

Harrowing rescues after severe floods swamp Orlando 02:03
By Meg Oliver

U.S. Army shares video of rescue mission in Sanibel

Soldiers with the Florida National Guard flew to Sanibel Island to "assist with medical evacuations and search and rescue operations," the U.S. Army tweeted Friday. It shared a video of the soldiers looking out over the devastation from a helicopter.

By Sophie Reardon

16 still missing after migrant boat sank off Florida coast as Ian arrived

Two people were found dead, the U.S. Coast Guard said Friday, and 16 are still missing after a migrant boat sank off the southern coast of Florida several days ago.

A total of 27 people were on the boat when it took on water off Stock Island on Wednesday, the Coast Guard said. Four people, identified by authorities as Cuban migrants, made it to shore in the immediate aftermath. 

The Coast Guard said the next day that three people were located 2 miles off Boca Chica and taken to area hospitals for exhaustion and dehydration. Later that same day, the Coast Guard said nine people had been safely located and rescued.

The boat sank as Hurricane Ian approached Florida's west coast, bringing storm surges, roaring wind and punishing rain to much of the state.

Read more here

By Sophie Reardon

NFL Foundation to donate $1 million, auction off game jerseys for relief efforts

The NFL Foundation said Friday it is donating $1 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts. It comes after the Glazer family, who owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, announced they were donating $1 million Thursday.

The foundation will also auction off "a limited number of game-worn jerseys and other unique items" from this weekend's Tampa Bay-Kansas City game to benefit the American Red Cross' hurricane relief efforts. Fans will be able to bid on the items at

"The NFL family's thoughts are with the various communities affected by Hurricane Ian during this difficult time and we will continue to find additional ways to provide help and support to those in Florida who need it now and in the months ahead," the foundation said in a statement.

By Sophie Reardon

Hundreds of thousands without power in Florida and Carolinas

As of 3:45 p.m. ET on Friday, more than 1.7 million customers in Florida, 210,000 in South Carolina and 82,000 in North Carolina were without power, according to

By Sophie Reardon

Florida sheriff's office shares photos of devastation

The Lee County Sheriff's Office was surveying damage Friday on Pine Island and Matlacha, two islands located very close to where Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida. Officials shared stunning photos of the destruction left there: a buckled road, flooded streets, a trapped car, a leveled home and downed palm trees.

"The devastation is heartbreaking," a Facebook post said.

Destruction left by Hurricane Ian in Pine Island and Matlacha, Florida. "The devastation is heartbreaking," the Lee County Sheriff's Office wrote on its Facebook page on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. Lee County Sheriff's Office
Several homes are destroyed on the Florida island. Lee County Sheriff's Office
Debris is seen scattered outside of a restaurant on Matlacha. Lee County Sheriff's Office
By Sophie Reardon

U.S. officials warn of hurricane-related scams

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is warning people about "malicious cyber activity targeting potential disaster victims and charitable donors following a hurricane."

In an alert on Friday, the agency told people to be on the lookout for fraudulent emails with "hurricane-related subject lines, attachments, or hyperlinks."

"In addition, be wary of social media pleas, texts, or door-to-door solicitations relating to severe weather events," the bulletin said.

By Sophie Reardon

Biden says it'll take "months, years" for many to rebuild in Florida

Speaking from the White House's Roosevelt Room, President Biden gave an update on Hurricane Ian as it continues to thrash the South. The president reiterated that the federal government will handle 100% of the cost to clear debris in Florida's hardest-hit counties. 

"We're just beginning to see the scale of that destruction," Mr. Biden said. "It's likely to rank among the worst … in the nation's history. You've all seen on television homes and property wiped out. It's going to take months, years to rebuild. And our hearts go out to all those folks whose lives have been absolutely devastated by this storm. America's heart is literally breaking, just watching people watch it on television. I want the people of Florida to know, we see what we're going through and we're with you. And we're going to do everything we can for you." 

By Kathryn Watson

Hurricane Ian makes landfall near Georgetown, South Carolina

Hurricane Ian made landfall near Georgetown, South Carolina, on Friday shortly after 2 p.m. EDT, according to the National Hurricane Center. It was a Category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph.

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin

North Carolina governor: "Now we are feeling the impacts" of Ian

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Friday afternoon the state was "feeling the impacts" of Hurricane Ian as the storm was making landfall in South Carolina.

During a press conference, Cooper reported portions of the state were seeing up to 8 inches of rain and gusty winds, and coastal towns were experiencing storm surge. Flash flooding and tornadoes were possible across the state.

North Carolina will likely see such conditions through Saturday, the governor warned.

He encouraged residents who live in flood-risk areas to come up with a plan and prepare for inclement weather. Cooper also asked that people who are out on the roads be cautious of emergency workers and first responders who may be out trying to help people.

By Sophie Reardon

Carolinas experiencing "life-threatening" storm surge

The Carolinas were experiencing "life-threatening" storm surge Friday, as well as damaging winds and flash flooding, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Forecasters said at 2 p.m. the storm's second landfall was imminent.

"Hurricane conditions are occurring within the Hurricane Warning area in South Carolina and southeastern North Carolina soon," the hurricane center said in its afternoon advisory. "Tropical storm conditions are occurring in parts of the warning areas on the coasts of Georgia and the Carolinas, and hurricane conditions are possible within the Hurricane Watch area in North Carolina by this afternoon."

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin

South Carolina gov. calls Ian "very dangerous" but "not as bad as it could have been"

Ahead of Ian's expected landfall in South Carolina Friday afternoon, Gov. Henry McMaster called the hurricane "very dangerous," but he also said "this is not as bad as it could have been." 

"A lot of prayers have been answered, but I ought to ask people, don't quit yet because it's still coming," McMaster said during a briefing Friday afternoon. "We are not out of the woods."

The governor urged people to stay inside and avoid driving.

"Right now, when the storm seems to be receding in certain parts of the state and is moving onto others at hurricane speeds, this is when people normally get careless, get hurt and, unfortunately, often lose their lives, so don't forget that human error is the deadliest thing that we have," McMaster said.

By Alex Sundby

"Hurricane Ian's landfall is imminent" in South Carolina

A National Weather Service official warned Ian was set to make landfall Friday afternoon in South Carolina.

"Hurricane Ian's landfall is imminent along the northern Charleston County coast," the official said during a briefing with Gov. Henry McMaster.

Ahead of Ian's second expected U.S. landfall, the hurricane's effects were being felt across the state, the official said. 

By Alex Sundby

EMS operations suspended in Charleston County

Charleston County emergency services were suspended Friday as officials prepared for Hurricane Ian to make landfall on South Carolina's coast.

In a tweet, officials said they were pausing response efforts "due to current wind conditions" and would resume service "as soon as it is safe to do so."

Charleston police were also restricting access to the city's Battery area, a spot at the tip of the peninsula that is home to many multi million-dollar, historic homes.

By The Associated Press

New photos show Florida floodwaters

New photos on Friday showed floodwaters in Florida two days after Hurricane Ian hit the state as a Category 4 storm:

An aerial photo, shows cars moving through receding flood waters as they return to New Smyrna Beach, Florida, on September 30, 2022, after Hurricane Ian slammed the area. JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images
A family gathers in a flooded parking lot outside their neighborhood in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, on September 30, 2022. JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images
A man stops in front of his house as a creek overflows from flooding following Hurricane Ian on September 30, 2022 in Kissimmee, Florida.  BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images
Osceloa County Sheriffs use a fanboat to rescue a 93 year-old resident from flooding following Hurricane Ian on September 30, 2022 in Kissimmee, Florida.  BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images
A man paddles a canoe through a flooded neighborhood in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, on September 30, 2022, after Hurricane Ian slammed the area. JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

How to help victims of Hurricane Ian

The American Red Cross was on the ground in Florida even before Hurricane Ian made landfall, with hundreds of volunteers and trained disaster workers helping with relief efforts. They are accepting monetary and blood donations. CBS is supporting the American Red Cross.

The Salvation Army is working to provide food and shelter for those impacted. The group has sent members to provide assistance in Florida and Georgia, and has said it will help those in North Carolina and South Carolina, if needed. They are also providing ongoing aid to Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Fiona. 

Florida has set up its own Disaster Fund to help with disaster response and recovery. Donations made to the fund go to the nonprofit Volunteer Florida Foundation, and up to 3% of each donation will be taken to cover administrative costs. 

There are other ways to help — Read more here.

By Li Cohen

Videos show Coast Guard rescuing people stranded after Ian

 The Coast Guard posted body camera videos of an aircrew rescuing people stranded on Florida's Sanibel Island in the wake of Hurricane Ian on Thursday.

In one video, a Coast Guardsman waded through knee-high water after descending from a helicopter.

"There's a whole bunch of people just like y'all, thousands of them," the guardsman told a couple in a house.

Footage from the guardsman's bodycam later showed a woman holding a cat carrier rising in a basket out of floodwaters to the helicopter hovering above the area.

In another video, the guardsman gave advice to a man with a little dog.

"Even when you get all the way up -- they're going to pull you in -- just keep holding the dog," he said. "You just don't want him to jump out."

By Alex Sundby

There have been more than 700 rescues so far, official says

Kevin Guthrie, director of Florida's Division of Emergency Management, said there have been more than 700 rescues so far in the state in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.

Guthrie said they are still in "hasty search" mode, while the governor said there are more than 1,000 rescue personnel going up and down the Florida coast.

The emergency response to the situation has been a "herculean effort" as communities continue to suffer, said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Guthrie said officials have confirmed a storm-related death in Polk County. Twenty other deaths have been reported, he said, but they are awaiting medical examination to determine if they were storm-related. Those include 12 deaths in Charlotte County and eight in Collier County.

There have been deaths in Lee County, he said, but those numbers are still being processed.

He also described a specific harrowing scene in a location that was not specified, of a completely flooded house with what is believed to be bodies inside.

"The water was up over the rooftop. But we had a Coast Guard rescue swimmer swim down into it and he could identity there appeared to be human remains. We do not know exactly how many," Guthrie said. "We do not know what the situation is. And before we comment on that - we want to be transparent - but we just don't know that number."

He said there are "a couple of other situations where we had that particular type of situation."

Rescue teams need the water to recede and are awaiting special equipment to investigate those situations further.  

By Li Cohen

Water and power issues persist in Florida

Water and power issues have resulted in the evacuations of half a dozen health care facilities in Florida's southwest. 

Lee County, among the hardest-hit areas, had a water main break and "does not have water at this point," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a press briefing Friday morning. FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers have arrived in that area to assist. 

Power also continues to be an issue for many Floridians, he said. While Lee and Charlotte counties have had about 15% of their power restored, 85% remain without power, DeSantis said, and some of their utilities will "require some rebuild." 

Overall, about 1.9 million customers remain without power in the state as of 10 a.m. In Hardee County, 99% of the area remains without power. 

Pine Island and Sanibel will also need to undergo rebuild efforts, DeSantis said, particularly with getting reconnected to the mainland. Ian destroyed parts of the bridges that connect the islands to Florida, making them only accessible by air or sea. 

Recovery is underway, officials assured. Roughly 800 bridges across the state have been inspected and reopened, including 67 in Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota and Manatee counties that were deemed "high priority," DeSantis said. He also believes that all of the state's ports will be operational by the end of Saturday. 

By Li Cohen

Family fled Florida only to find themselves facing Ian in South Carolina

Officials warn Hurricane Ian remains a threat ahead of second U.S. landfall 02:38

Lisa Sanez and her two sons fled to the Charleston, South Carolina, area from their home in Tampa, Florida.

They were trying — unsuccessfully — to steer clear of Ian.

"My sister, actually, she brought us out here to get away from the storm," Sanez said. "... It's headed this way, and I don't know, we're going to hunker down here."

"We are storm chasers," she said with a laugh, "unintentionally." 

By Michael George

Charleston airport closes, Tampa reopens

Charleston International Airport says it closed Friday morning due to high winds from Hurricane Ian. 

"The airfield plans to reopen Saturday, October 1, at 6 a.m.," the airport tweeted.   

Other airports already affected by Ian were were working to get back to normal.

Tampa International said it reopened Friday at 10 a.m. Melbourne Orlando International Airport also reopened Friday morning, and  Orlando International Airport plans to resume passenger flights after noon.

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin

Coast Guard commander on rescue efforts and challenges ahead

Rear Admiral Brendan McPherson, U.S. Coast Guard Seventh District Commander, spoke with "CBS Mornings" about the ongoing rescue efforts in Florida in the wake of Hurricane Ian, the destruction they're seeing on the ground, and the challenges ahead for their team. 

Watch his interview in the video below.


"This storm can still be dangerous and even deadly"

Officials warn Hurricane Ian remains a threat ahead of second U.S. landfall 02:38

The southeast coast of South Carolina is expected to take a direct hit from Ian. It's a region known as Lowcountry, filled with saltwater marshes, waterways and beaches — areas that are already prone to flooding. Storm surge there could be particularly devastating.

The National Hurricane Center warned Ian could produce life-threatening flooding, storm surge and strong winds from Georgia up through North Carolina.

"It's going to be blowing strong winds, and it's going to be all over the state at different levels," South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said.

"This storm can still be dangerous and even deadly," North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said. "Heavy rains, up to 7 inches in some areas, are likely to bring flooding. Landslides are a threat in our mountains, and there's a chance of tornadoes statewide."

In Bryan County, Georgia, conditions on the water started getting rough midday Thursday. The Coast Guard helped rescue a man in the Ogeechee River who was trying to secure his Jet Ski when he got pulled out to sea.

"You see these waters out here, you need to be careful," marina owner Butch Broome told WTOC-TV. "You need to stay off of them." 

By Michael George

Charleston is seeing impacts of Ian

Charleston, South Carolina, started seeing some impacts of Hurricane Ian Friday morning, according to the city's Twitter account, and some roads in the city were already closed.

Police said flooding was being seen "in many of our usual locations" and that road closures were expected to continue throughout the day Friday. Authorities urged people to stay home.

"Emergency Management officials recommend citizens stay at home or in a safe place throughout the storm," the city of Charleston tweeted.

The early impacts were seen as the center of Ian was still about 100 miles from the city. 

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin

Warnings and watches in effect

According to the National Hurricane Center as of 8 a.m. ET: 

A storm surge warning is in effect for:

  • Flagler/Volusia County Line Florida to Cape Fear North Carolina
  • Neuse River North Carolina
  • St. Johns River Florida

A hurricane warning is in effect for:

  • Savannah River to Cape Fear North Carolina

A tropical storm warning is in effect for:

  • Altamaha Sound Georgia to Savannah River
  • Cape Fear to Duck North Carolina
  • Pamlico Sound

A storm surge watch is in effect for:

  • North of Cape Fear to Duck North Carolina
  • Pamlico River
  • Cape Fear River

A hurricane watch is in effect for: 

  • East of Cape Fear to Surf City North Carolina

Tropical-storm-force winds start hitting Carolinas

Tropical-storm-force winds started hitting the Carolina coast Friday morning, before life-threatening storm surge — up 7 feet in some areas — is expected there Friday afternoon.

"Tropical storm conditions are occurring in parts of the warning areas on the coasts of Georgia and the Carolinas, and hurricane conditions are expected to begin in the Hurricane Warning area in South Carolina and southeastern North Carolina by this afternoon," the hurricane center said in its 8 a.m. advisory. "Hurricane conditions are possible within the Hurricane Watch area in North Carolina by this afternoon."

The storm is currently a Category 1 hurricane, hurling winds of 85 mph.  

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin

A wary Charleston gets ready as Ian approaches

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.

On Friday morning 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 85 mph, the National Hurricane Center's update at 5 a.m. Friday placed Ian about 145 miles southeast of Charleston and forecast a "life-threatening storm surge" and hurricane conditions along the Carolina coastal area later Friday.

National Guard troops were being positioned in South Carolina to help with the aftermath, including any water rescues. And in Washington, President Biden approved an emergency declaration for the state, a needed step to speed federal assist for recovery once Ian passes.

By The Associated Press

New woe for Florida: Gas stations running out

As if they didn't have enough problems due to Hurricane Ian, many Floridians were finding empty tanks at gas stations, according to a tweet from GasBuddy's Patrick DeHaan Thursday evening:

He wrote, "Big spike in gas outages in Florida from last update. 13.4% of stations without gas, including 30.8% in Tampa, 26.1% in Ft Myers/Naples."

By Brian Dakss

Boy who evacuated falls to his death from 19-floor balcony

An 11-year-old boy who'd evacuated with his family from Jacksonville due to Hurricane Ian was killed when he fell from a 19th-story condominium balcony in Panama City Beach, Florida, town officials said.

It happened at the Sterling Reef Thursday afternoon.

He was already dead when rescue crews arrived, officials said, adding that foul play wasn't suspected.

By Brian Dakss

In Fort Myers, devastation abounds

The Fort Myers area was particularly hard-hit by Ian. The hurricane ripped homes from their slabs and deposited them among shredded wreckage. Businesses near the beach were completely razed, leaving twisted debris. Broken docks floated at odd angles beside damaged boats. Fires smoldered on lots where houses once stood.

"I don't know how anyone could have survived in there," William Goodison said amid the wreckage of a mobile home park in Fort Myers Beach where he'd lived for 11 years. Goodison said he was alive only because he rode out the storm at his son's house inland.

Hurricane Ian Makes Florida Landfall With Catastrophic Force
A destroyed house at a flooded trailer park following Hurricane Ian in Fort Myers, Florida, on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022. Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The hurricane tore through the park of about 60 homes, leaving many destroyed or mangled beyond repair, including Goodison's single-wide home. Wading through waist-deep water, Goodison and his son wheeled two trash cans containing what little he could salvage — a portable air conditioner, some tools and a baseball bat.

The road into Fort Myers was littered with broken trees, boat trailers and other debris. Cars were left abandoned in the road, having stalled when the storm surge flooded their engines.

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said his office was scrambling to respond to thousands of 911 calls in the Fort Myers area, but many roads and bridges were impassable.

Emergency crews sawed through toppled trees to reach stranded people. Many in the hardest-hit areas were unable to call for help because of electrical and cellular outages.

chunk of the nearby Sanibel Causeway fell into the sea, cutting off access to the barrier island where 6,300 people live.

Fort Myers residents coming to grips with the scale of destruction 02:36
By The Associated Press

Biden declares state of emergency for South Carolina

s Hurricane Ian headed for a forecast landfall over South Carolina, President Biden issued an emergency declaration for the state late Thursday night.

It lets FEMA work with state, tribal, and local agencies to help locals cope with the anticipated damage.

"Specifically," the White House said, "FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency."

By Brian Dakss

Woman wades through chest-high floodwaters to check on stranger's mom

Christine Bomlitz became more and more distraught as Hurricane Ian gained in ferocity Wednesday, sweeping across southwest Florida. Hours passed, but there was still no word from her 84-year-old mother.

Thursday morning came. The storm had drifted away overnight. But still no word.

Stuck on the other side of the country in Las Vegas, Bomlitz posted pleas for help on social media - anywhere she could. Can someone check on her mother?

Bomlitz had no way to contact her mom, Shirley Affolter, who lost her cell phone before the storm. Then her landline went down. With nowhere to go, she hunkered down for the night. Before the storm, an evacuation vehicle had missed her on its route.

By Thursday afternoon, a Good Samaritan came to the rescue.

Cheynne Prevatt, 26, had sustained damage to her own home during the storm. But the Florida resident waded into chest-high floodwaters to search for Affolter.

Flooding in Englewood, Florida, had cut the mother off from her neighbors and the rest of her community. She couldn't escape on her own because she needs a walker to get around.

When Prevatt walked through the door, there was relief. The woman was alive and safe. Prevatt said: "I didn't know who she was, but she was really kind of surprised to see me."

Mother and daughter were able to speak briefly on the phone, enough to ease Bomlitz's worries.

By The Associated Press
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