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Saturday promised to reveal Hurricane Ian's true impact in South Carolina after the storm's second landfall, while rescuers continued to comb hard-hit Florida, where record river flooding was expected.
At least 73 people have died in the storm in Florida and four in North Carolina, according to state officials and an NBC News count.
Ian made landfall in South Carolina as a Category 1 storm on Friday afternoon and has since been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone.
The National Hurricane Center said in an advisory Saturday that the storm would continue to weaken near the border of North Carolina and Virginia throughout the day, adding that it would weaken even more through Sunday. Still, officials have warned that Ian and its aftermath pose a grave danger, with warnings of flash flooding across parts of both states.
And Ian is expected to produce between 3 to 6 inches of rainfall on Saturday across parts of North Carolina and West Virginia.
More than 1.3 million customers in Florida were without power early Saturday, three days after Ian slammed into the state. In South Carolina, more than 63,000 homes and businesses were without power after the hurricane hit. Throughout the day, power came back slowly in these states as rescue efforts continued in Ian's wake.
Bidens to visit Puerto Rico, Florida
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden will travel next week to areas hit hard by Hurricane Ian, the White House announced late Saturday.
The Bidens will visit Puerto Rico on Monday, and Florida on Wednesday.
No further details were announced, but the president mentioned his concern for the regions hit by Hurricanes Irma and Ian on Saturday night at a Congressional Black Caucus awards dinner.
"Our hearts ... are heavy, the devastating hurricanes, storms in Puerto Rico, Florida, and South Carolina. And we owe Puerto Rico a hell of a lot more than they’ve already gotten," Biden said.
Government will cover purchase of power generators for some
Residents of federal disaster areas who purchased or rented power generators to keep medical devices operating might be able to get reimbursement from the federal government.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency said generators purchased by residents who lost power after Hurricane Ian struck areas covered by President Joe Biden's major disaster declaration can be covered by tax dollars.
Qualifications for reimbursement include a medical need: The resident must provide written proof that a generator is needed to power a vital medical device or refrigerator.
The generator must be for a home that is a claimant's primary residence, and one where power was disrupted as a result of the storm. Claimant's have to be in the United States legally.
The claimant must live in an area covered by Biden's major disaster declaration Friday. Those areas for now only cover Florida counties hard hit by Ian: Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas, and Sarasota.
The White House said additional areas could be designated as damage assessment is completed.
On Saturday, night 1,007,053 utility customers in Florida were in the dark, according to PowerOutage.us. Hurricane Ian struck the state Thursday.
Outages continue to challenge Florida, Carolinas, Virginia
The remnants of Ian have moved more than three states away, but Florida continued to struggle with power outages as more than a million utility customers remained without power Saturday evening.
The power monitoring site PowerOutage.us reported that 1,079,239 customers were in the dark after sunset in Florida. That's an improvement from the nearly 2 million residents without power at sunrise, according to Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Speaking at a news conference Saturday, DeSantis said utilities were on the case.
"They are working 24/7 to be able to restore power all throughout the state of Florida," he said. "That's 42,000 linemen and associated personnel."
In South Carolina, 6,411 were without power Saturday night, according to PowerOutage.us. In North Carolina, that figure was 56,584.
Virginia, where the former hurricane was lurking as its core moved over West Virginia, had 15,949 without electricity Saturday.
Post-tropical cyclone Ian hasn't impacted the outage figures for West Virginia yet. Forecasters said the state could be in for flash flooding and small stream flooding overnight.
Before and after photos capture scope of Hurricane Ian’s destruction in Florida
Florida sheriff warns of possible flooding from levee breach in Sarasota County
The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office in Florida is warning residents of a potential levee breach that could cause flooding for about 70 homes.
A notification was sent out around 3 a.m. Saturday saying that homes near the Hidden River levee could be affected.
‘The compromise of this levee appears that it WILL ONLY IMPACT HOMES ON THE EAST SIDE OF THE HIDDEN RIVER COMMUNITY,” the sheriff’s office wrote in a Facebook post.”This levee compromise SHOULD NOT impact any other areas in Sarasota County including Venice or North Port.”
Deputies are working with the fire department on going door-to-door to alert residents. The sheriff’s office encouraged the community to consider evacuating.
Read the full story here.
Search and rescue teams comb through Hurricane Ian's wreckage
Gov. Roy Cooper mourns deaths in North Carolina
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper on Saturday mourned the deaths of four people who died in his state from storm-related incidents.
“The storm has passed, but many hazards remain with downed trees, downed power lines and power outages,” Cooper said in a statement. “We mourn with the families of those who have died and urge everyone to be cautious while cleaning up to avoid more deaths or injuries.”
The victims include a 25-year-old man and a 24-year-old woman who died in car accidents, a 22-year-old man who drowned when his truck submerged in a flooded swamp and a 65-year-old man who suffered carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator running in a closed garage, according to the statement.
Charleston, South Carolina, dodges a big bullet named Ian
CHARLESTON, S.C. — This historic city of graceful mansions and Spanish moss-draped trees dodged the devastation Saturday that Hurricane Ian had visited on Florida. But Charleston was left with yet another reminder of how vulnerable it remains to powerful storms.
The damage to Charleston, a city below sea level with a long history of flooding, appeared minimal the day after Ian barreled into South Carolina as a Category 1 storm.
“People need to realize that Charleston really was largely spared by just 20 or 25 miles,” said state Sen. George “Chip” Campsen, a Republican who represents the area and currently lives on Isle of Palms, a small barrier island just outside Charleston.
Branches and leaves littered the ground, a few trees were down and walls of sandbags were still standing watch by some store entryways. But the skies were blue, and tourists, who had been trapped in their hotels, emerged to find a city mostly unscathed, although here and there some of the iconic Spanish moss had been sloughed-off the trees onto the street.
Read the full story here.
At least 1,100 rescues in Florida so far, Desantis says
At least 1,100 rescues have been made in Florida since Ian made landfall in the state, Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a news conference on Saturday.
"There's been a great outpouring of support and I've seen a lot of resilience in this community of people that want to pick themselves up and they want to get their communities back on their feet," DeSantis told reporters. "We'll be here and we'll be helping every step of the way."
Power is slowly being restored in southern states
Power is coming back slowly to homes and businesses in Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and southern Virginia, according to data from poweroutage.us.
In Florida, 1,195,366 customers are currently without power, down from nearly 1.3 million Saturday morning. In South Carolina and North Carolina, 24,365 and 198,672 customers are without power, respectively, down from 62,023 and 325,015.
In southern Virginia, 56,081 customers are still without power, down almost by half from 101,587 this morning.
Before and after photos show streets drying up in Charleston on Saturday
South Carolina governor: 'We're open for business'
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster struck an optimistic note during a news briefing Saturday, saying his state was "open for business" in the wake of Hurricane Ian.
"There is damage. There is some heartbreak," McMaster told reporters. "But all in all [this is] another good story for South Carolina, and we're open for business."
Ian made landfall in Georgetown, South Carolina, on Friday, hitting the coastal area between Charleston and Myrtle Beach. The Category 1 storm pounded the coast, shredding piers and flooding streets. No deaths have been reported in the state.
Cubans protest in Havana for second night over lack of power
HAVANA — Groups of Cubans protested Friday night in the streets of Havana for a second night, decrying delays in fully restoring electricity three days after Hurricane Ian knocked out power across the island.
A foreign monitoring group reported that Cuba’s internet service shut down for the second time in two days, saying it appeared to be unrelated to problems from the storm but rather an attempt to keep information about the demonstrations from spreading.
Associated Press journalists saw people demonstrating in at least five spots in the city or on its outskirts, including the Barreras and La Gallega districts where residents blocked streets with burning tires and garbage.
Masiel Pereira, a housewife, said that “the only thing I ask is that they restore the current for my children.” A neighbor, Yunior Velásquez, lamented that “all the food is about to be lost” because there was no power for refrigerators.
Daily life resumes in Charleston
NHC: Ian will continue to weaken in North Carolina and Virginia
Post-tropical cyclone Ian will continue to weaken near the border of North Carolina and Virginia through late Saturday, the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory.
A gradual weakening trend is also forecast through Sunday.
At 12:20 p.m. Ian's center was located on the border between the two states. It is currently moving north-northeast near 10 mph, according to the NHC.
The storm is expected to bring an additional 1 to 3 inches of rain or more this weekend across parts of the Central Appalachians and mid-Atlantic, where limited flash, urban and small stream flooding is possible.
642 patients evacuated from Florida health care facilities
The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration has evacuated 642 patients from six health care facilities in the state since Hurricane Ian made landfall, officials announced in a tweet Friday.
The patients were evacuated from facilities in Charlotte, Lee, Sarasota, Orange and Volusia counties.
"AHCA has deployed teams to visit all health care facilities in counties impacted by Hurricane Ian," the statement read. "As of today, teams have completed assessments at all facilities in Lee, Charlotte, and Collier County and expect to have all assessments complete in DeSoto, Hendry, Highlands, and Hardy counties by Friday evening."
A total of 230 health care facilities have had their power restored since the onset of the storm, according to the agency.
Potential flooding from Sarasota levee would reach area with dozens of homes
The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office clarified concerns about a possible levee breach Saturday morning, saying that any flooding would reach around 50 houses in the area.
"It appears the compromise will only impact the homes in that neighborhood. There are roughly 50 homes total," sheriff's office spokeswoman Kaitlyn R. Perez said in a statement.
"From what we understand, this flooding will have no impact on any other parts of Sarasota County, including down south in Venice and Englewood where most of the damage and flooding already is," Perez added.
Photos show destruction of the Sanibel Causeway in Florida
Charleston has been 'fortunate,' says Mayor Tecklenburg
Residents of Charleston woke up to sunnier weather and wind speeds of only 10.4 mph this morning, after Ian lashed heavy rain and wind over the city on Friday.
“While the city was fortunate to avoid a direct hit from Hurricane Ian, the impacts are still significant, with a number of roads closed, residents without power and flooding damage,” Mayor John Tecklenburg said in a statement.
He added, “We are grateful to our first responders and our residents who stayed at home during the storm, and encourage residents to continue to exercise caution as they make repairs and clean up.”
Biden approves emergency declaration in North Carolina
President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for North Carolina on Saturday, ordering federal assistance to the state due to conditions from Hurricane Ian.
Biden's declaration authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts in all 100 counties of the state and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
"Emergency protective measures (Category B), including direct Federal assistance, under the Public Assistance program will be provided at 75 percent Federal funding," according to a White House statement.
Three ports closed in St. Petersburg
Three ports remain closed in the coastal city of St Petersburg, Florida, following the destruction left by Hurricane Ian.
The ports that have been shut down include Fort Myers Beach, Boca Grande and Charlotte. The 16 other ports in the city were open on Saturday morning.
Nearly 2 million homes and businesses without power
Nearly 2 million customers have been left without power in Ian's wake, according to data from poweroutage.us.
In Florida, 1.3 million customers were without electricity early Saturday morning, with 100,331 affected in Virgina, 325,015 in North Carolina, 62,023 in South Carolina and 204, 513 in Puerto Rico.
Sarasota County warns of possible levee break
Florida's Sarasota County warned of a possible levee break in the area of Hidden River/Myakka Valley, with the potential for 15 feet of floodwater.
Residents were urged to shelter in place if it was safe to do so because exit routes and roadways could be impassable, according to a statement.
Major to record flooding expected in Florida with flash floods predicted elsewhere
Warnings of record river flooding across parts of Florida were in place Saturday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center’s latest report at 5 a.m. The center also warned of limited flash, urban and small stream flooding across the central Appalachians and parts of the southern mid-Atlantic regions over the weekend, including in Virginia and North and South Carolina.
Ian will have maximum sustained winds of 35 mph, according to the NHC. It also said the storm was expected to dissipate over south-central Virginia by tonight, and had been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone
Ian is expected to produce between 2 to 4 inches of rainfall on Saturday, with a maximum of 6 inches in parts of the central Appalachians and North Carolina.
Florida hospital without running water faces a sanitation crisis in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian
Staff members at the Health Park Medical Center in Fort Myers told NBC News that the facility’s running water went out Wednesday and hadn’t yet been restored. If water service wasn't back soon, the workers said, they feared disease outbreaks and infections in the wake of the storm.
Patients and nurses alike have been forced to defecate in plastic bags, then store the waste in overflowing biohazard bins, staff members and patients said.
Workers said they couldn't properly sanitize medical instruments for reuse, and some patients went more than a dozen hours without drinking any water.
Ian washes away piers in South Carolina
Hurricane Ian has destroyed parts of at least four piers along South Carolina’s northern coast. Ian has gone from being classified as a hurricane to a post-tropical cyclone as it moves across South Carolina.
The brunt of the surge and waves from the Category 1 storm hit around Myrtle Beach on Friday.
Police said the Pawley’s Island Pier was washed away first. Then local TV footage showed sections missing from the Cherry Grove Pier near North Myrtle Beach and the Apache and Second Avenue piers in Myrtle Beach.
An 85 mph wind gust was measured at Fort Sumter, the tiny island where the Civil War began, about 4 miles from downtown Charleston, the National Weather Service reported.
Flash flood warnings for North Carolina and Virginia
There were warnings of flash flooding across parts of North Carolina and southern Virginia Saturday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center's latest report at 2 a.m. ET.
Ian, which has been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone, will have maximum sustained winds of 40 mph, according to the NHC. It also said that the storm is forecast to weaken later on Saturday and dissipate by early Sunday.
And Ian is expected to produce between 3 to 6 inches of rainfall across parts of North Carolina and West Virginia on Saturday.
In Florida, even inland towns are menaced by floods
Residents in North Port, Sarasota County, thought they might be safe from the ravages of Hurricane Ian, living far from the beach and outside areas under evacuation orders.
But even in inland towns, water levels have gone up significantly, causing widespread flooding and turning roads into canals and leaving residents trapped inside their homes. Heavy rains from the storm have ended up flowing into suburban and inland towns not included in hurricane warnings.
This is because rising rivers have created a deluge, the overflowing of water on land, long after the winds have died down, leading to rescue efforts not dissimilar to those in coastal areas.
“Water just keeps going up. Who knows when it is going to stop,” Samuel Almanzar, 42, told The Associated Press. He was rescued by crews Friday along with his father, wife and two children, 11 and 6 years old.
Former FEMA director breaks down immediate needs of hurricane survivors
Coast Guard says it saved more than 300 after Ian
The U.S. Coast Guard said Friday it had saved 325 people and 83 pets so far in its response to Hurricane Ian.
Those numbers were as of 8 p.m. Friday. The Coast Guard is among the agencies responding to the devastation caused by Ian, which was a Category 4 hurricane when it struck Florida’s southwest coast Wednesday.
The Coast Guard posted video showing a man being rescued by helicopter from a boat stranded in mangroves from flooded areas near Sanibel.
Sanibel Island, in Lee County, was among the areas devastated by the storm and is south of where the hurricane made landfall. Sanibel city officials have said there was a storm surge there of 8 to 15 feet.