Floods trap many in Florida as Ian heads to South Carolina

APTOPIX_Tropical_Weather_Florida_19976 In this aerial photo, damaged boats and debris are stacked along the shore in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers, Fla.
Tropical_Weather_01803 A section of the damaged Sanibel Causeway seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, near Sanibel Island, Fla.
Tropical_Weather_Florida_71114 Aerial photo of damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers, Fla.
Tropical_Weather_91786 A damaged causeway to Sanibel Island is seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian , Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, near Sanibel Island, Fla.
Tropical_Weather_44759 A damaged causeway to Sanibel Island is seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian , Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, near Sanibel Island, Fla.
Tropical_Weather_Florida_14742 This aerial photo shows damaged boats and structures in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers, Fla.
Tropical_Weather_58935 Cars damaged from a tornado spawned from an apparent overnight tornado spawned from Hurricane Ian at Kings Point 55+ community in Delray Beach, Fla., on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022.
Tropical_Weather__15829 Heather Danenhower, with Duke Energy, walks around utility trucks that are staged in a rural lot in The Villages of Sumter County, Fla., Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022. Hurricane Ian rapidly intensified as it neared landfall along Florida's southwest coast Wednesday morning, gaining top winds of 155 mph (250 kph), just shy of the most dangerous Category 5 status.
Tropical_Weather_Florida_37727 Rescue personnel search a flooded trailer park after Hurricane Ian passed by the area Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers, Fla.
Tropical_Weather_Florida_16465 Displaced boats rest lie strewn along the San Carlos Boulevard, one day of the passage of Hurricane Ian, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022.
Tropical_Weather_Florida_12793 Receding floodwaters surround homes near downtown, one day after the passage of Hurricane Ian, in Fort Myers, Fla., Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022.
APTOPIX_Tropical_Weather_Florida_90302 Residents check on one another in a flooded neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Orlando, Fla.
Tropical_Weather_51234 Utility trucks are staged ahead of Hurricane Ian, near the Florida Turnpike, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, in Wildwood, Fla.
CORRECTION_APTOPIX_Tropical_Weather_Florida_00069 CORRECTS DATELINE TO FORT MYERS BEACH, NOT FORT MYERS - Damaged homes and debris are shown in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla.
Tropical_Weather_Florida_70608 Damaged homes and businesses are seen in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., on Thursday, Sep 29, 2022, following Hurricane Ian.
Tropical_Weather_73068 Damaged boats lie on the land and water in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers, Fla.
Tropical_Weather_10810 Damaged homes are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla.
Tropical_Weather_Island_Disaster_97168 Rescue personnel load a four wheeler onto a barge for transport to Sanibel Island Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers, Fla.
Tropical_Weather_23973 A home burns on Sanibel Island in the wake of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fla.
APTOPIX_Tropical_Weather_Florida_47205 Damaged mobile homes lie scattered after the passage of Hurricane Ian, in the San Carlos area of Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022.
APTOPIX_Tropical_Weather_45198 Authorities transport a person out of the Avante nursing home in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. Hurricane Ian carved a path of destruction across Florida, trapping people in flooded homes, cutting off the only bridge to a barrier island, destroying a historic waterfront pier and knocking out power to 2.5 million people as it dumped rain over a huge area on Thursday.
Tropical_Weather_29660 People walk along The Battery alongside Charleston Harbor as winds from Hurricane Ian begin to roll in to the Charleston, S.C., area on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022.
Tropical_Weather_46719 Marcus Williamson and Victoria Melendez retrieve fishing rods from their boat at a marina in the wake of Hurricane Ian , Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers, Fla.
Tropical_Weather_Florida_93305 A piece of decor from a destroyed business or boat lies near the wreckage of Getaway Marina, following the passage of Hurricane Ian, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022.
Tropical_Weather_Florida_33942 Joe Dalton, on vacation from Cleveland, Ohio, checks out beached boats at Fort Myers Wharf along the Caloosahatchee River Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers, Fla., following Hurricane Ian.
Tropical_Weather_Florida_28954 Dave Loesser, who lives in the nearby Johnathan Harbor community, talks on the phone next to a boat that has landed atop pilings on a dock at the Port Sanibel Marina near Fort Myers, Fla., Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022. Hurricane Ian made landfall Wednesday, Sept. 28, as a Category 4 hurricane on the southwest coast of Florida.
Tropical_Weather_24450 In this photo provided by Orange County Fire Rescue's Public Information Office, firefighters in Orange County, Fla., help people stranded by Hurricane Ian early Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022. Ian marched across central Florida on Thursday as a tropical storm after battering the state’s southwest coast, dropping heavy rains that caused flooding and led to inland rescues and evacuations.
Tropical_Weather_58747 Residents and business owners cross the bridge to Fort Myers Beach, Fla., at San Carlos Boulevard and Main Street, on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022. The island is not yet open to the general public.
Tropical_Weather_33575 In this photo provided by Orange County Fire Rescue's Public Information Office, firefighters in Orange County, Fla., help people stranded by Hurricane Ian early Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022. Ian marched across central Florida on Thursday as a tropical storm after battering the state’s southwest coast, dropping heavy rains that caused flooding and led to inland rescues and evacuations.
Tropical_Weather_South_Carolina_98977 Hurricane warning flags fly in front of the fire station and town hall as the effects from Hurricane Ian are felt, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Sullivan's Island, S.C.
APTOPIX_Tropical_Weather_22401 In this photo provided by the Orange County Fire Rescue's Public Information Office, firefighters in Orange County, Fla., help people stranded by Hurricane Ian early Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022. Hurricane Ian marched across central Florida on Thursday as a tropical storm after battering the state’s southwest coast, dropping heavy rains that caused flooding and led to inland rescues and evacuations.
Tropical_Weather_Florida_15088 The two-story Getaway Marina building, front, lies reduced to rubble as displaced boats rest along the roadside and a trailer park, at top, lies nearly devoid of homes, following the passage of Hurricane Ian, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022.
Tropical_Weather_23537 Vehicles sit in flood water at the Palm Isle apartments in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. Hurricane Ian carved a path of destruction across Florida, trapping people in flooded homes, cutting off the only bridge to a barrier island, destroying a historic waterfront pier and knocking out power to 2.5 million people as it dumped rain over a huge area on Thursday.
Tropical_Weather_Florida_84321 Shrimping boats and powerboats lie strewn atop homes after the passage of Hurricane Ian, in the San Carlos area of Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022.
Tropical_Weather_Florida_75289 Boats lie scattered amidst mobile homes after the passage of Hurricane Ian, in the San Carlos area of Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022.
APTOPIX_Tropical_Weather_Florida_33942 Joe Dalton, on vacation from Cleveland, Ohio, checks out beached boats at Fort Myers Wharf along the Caloosahatchee River Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers, Fla., following Hurricane Ian.
Tropical_Weather_Florida_41150 First responders with Orange County Fire Rescue use an inflatable boat to rescue a resident from a home in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Orlando, Fla.
Tropical_Weather_Florida_53912 Residents walk through a neighborhood with fallen branches and leaves in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Orlando, Fla.
Tropical_Weather_15918 A section of the Sanibel Causeway was lost due to the effects of Hurricane Ian Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers, Fla.
Tropical_Weather_Florida_40677 Rescuers evacuate residents from the Avante at Orlando assisted living facility on S.R. 436 in Orlando, Fla., due to flooding from Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022.
Tropical_Weather_57325 Damaged structures are seen in the wake of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla.
Tropical_Weather_Florida_21478 Residents in an Orlando, Fla., neighborhood are rescued due to floodwaters from Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022.
Tropical_Weather_Florida_70608 Damages homes and businesses are seen in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., on Thursday, Sep 29, 2022, following Hurricane Ian.
APTOPIX_Tropical_Weather_Florida_47205 In this photo taken by a drone, damaged mobile homes lie scattered after the passage of Hurricane Ian, on San Carlos Island, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022.
Tropical_Weather_73068 Damages boats lie on the land and water in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers, Fla.
Tropical_Weather_Florida_15088 In this photo taken by a drone, the two-story Getaway Marina building, front, lies reduced to rubble as displaced boats rest along the roadside and a trailer park, at top, lies nearly devoid of homes, following the passage of Hurricane Ian, on San Carlos Boulevard in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022.
Tropical_Weather_10810 Damagd homes are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla.
Tropical_Weather_Florida_84321 In this photo taken by a drone, shrimping boats and powerboats lie strewn atop homes after the passage of Hurricane Ian, on San Carlos Island, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022.
Tropical_Weather_81672 Boats and a damged home are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla.
Tropical_Weather_10931 This aerial photo shows damaged homes and debris in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers, Fla.
Tropical_Weather_Florida_18590 This photo provided by Naples Fire-Rescue Department crews help rescue a stranded motorist from flooding caused by Hurricane Ian on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022 in Naples, Fla. Officials say rain and overflow from rivers is causing severe flooding near parts of Florida’s Atlantic coast as storm Ian makes its way back out to sea.
Tropical_Weather_37040 Congresswoman Val Demings, D-Orlando, talks to first responders during the rescuing of residents trapped by floodwaters in the Orlo Vista neighborhood in Orlando, Fla., caused by heavy rains from Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022.
Tropical_Weather_11908 Smoldering homes are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Meyers Beach. Fla.
APTOPIX_Tropical_Weather_Florida_75289 In this photo taken by a drone, boats lie scattered amidst mobile homes after the passage of Hurricane Ian, on San Carlos Island, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022.
Tropical_Weather_94961 A stoplight pole at Livingston Street, blown down by Hurricane Ian winds, rests on Orange Avenue in Downtown Orlando, Fla. Hurricane Ian has 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.
Tropical_Weather_97323 Just before the Sanibel Causeway, a spiral staircase was deposited in the brush next to a white pickup as Hurricane Ian passed the area Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022 in Sanibel, Fla. Hurricane Ian has 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 2.5 million people.
Tropical_Weather_67492 A displaced boat sits beside the roadway in the southeast corner of Cape Coral on Wednesday night, Sept. 28, 2022, as the winds of Hurricane Ian continue to strike the flood-soaked streets.
Tropical_Weather_Georgia_67989 People walk to look at the surf as the effects from Hurricane Ian are felt, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Tybee Island, Ga.
Tropical_Weather_04764 The pavement just before the causeway to Sanibel is damage by a storm surge from Hurricane Ian on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022 in Sanibel, Fla. Hurricane Ian has 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.
Tropical_Weather_Georgia_25346 Alex Tatlock, from Savannah, Ga., checks out the surf, and decides against surfing, as the effects from Hurricane Ian are felt, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Tybee Island, Ga.
Tropical_Weather_Georgia_22410 Alex Tatlock, from Savannah, Ga., checks out the surf, and decides against surfing, as the effects from Hurricane Ian are felt, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Tybee Island, Ga.
Tropical_Weather_Georgia_00794 People walk near a pier as the effects from Hurricane Ian are felt, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Tybee Island, Ga.
Tropical_Weather_Georgia_03938 Bands of clouds sweep by a deserted beach as the effects from Hurricane Ian are felt, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Tybee Island, Ga.
Tropical_Weather_Florida_11537 Residents are rescued from floodwaters in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Orlando, Fla., on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022.
APTOPIX_Tropical_Weather_Florida_39579 Jake Moses, 19, left, and Heather Jones, 18, of Fort Myers, explore a section of destroyed businesses at Fort Myers Beach, Fla., on Thursday, Sep 29, 2022, following Hurricane Ian.
Tropical_Weather_11908 Smoldering homes are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers Fla.
Tropical_Weather_95354 Residents are rescued from floodwaters in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Orlando, Fla., on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022.
Tropical_Weather_Florida_17252 A man walks through a street among gamages homes and businesses and debris in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., on Thursday, Sep 29, 2022, following Hurricane Ian.
APTOPIX_Tropical_Weather_Florida_17252 A man walks through a street among damaged homes and businesses and debris in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., on Thursday, Sep 29, 2022, following Hurricane Ian.
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FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Rescue crews piloted boats and waded through inundated streets Thursday to save thousands of Floridians trapped amid flooded homes and shattered buildings left by Hurricane Ian, which crossed into the Atlantic Ocean and churned toward South Carolina.

Hours after weakening to a tropical storm while crossing the Florida peninsula, Ian regained hurricane strength Thursday evening over the Atlantic. The National Hurricane Center predicted it would hit South Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane Friday, with winds picking up to 80 mph (129 kph) near midnight Thursday.

The devastation inflicted on Florida came into focus a day after Ian struck as a monstrous Category 4 hurricane, one of the strongest storms ever to hit the U.S. It flooded homes on both the state’s coasts, cut off the only road access to a barrier island, destroyed a historic waterfront pier and knocked out electricity to 2.67 million Florida homes and businesses — nearly a quarter of utility customers.

Four people were confirmed dead in Florida. They included two residents of hard-hit Sanibel Island along Florida’s west coast, Sanibel city manager Dana Souza said late Thursday. Three other people were reported killed in Cuba after the hurricane struck there on Tuesday.

In the Fort Myers area, homes had been ripped from their slabs and deposited among shredded wreckage. Businesses near the beach were completely razed, leaving twisted debris. Broken docks floated at odd angles beside damaged boats and 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 the mobile home park in Fort Myers Beach where he’d lived for 11 years. Goodison rode out the storm at his son’s house inland.

The hurricane tore through the park of about 60 homes, many of them 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.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said at least 700 rescues, mostly by air, have been conducted so far and involving the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Guard and urban search-and-rescue teams.

After leaving Florida as a tropical storm Thursday and entering the Atlantic Ocean north of Cape Canaveral, Ian spun up into a hurricane again with winds of 75 mph (120 kph).

A hurricane warning was issued for the South Carolina coast and extended to Cape Fear on the southeastern coast of North Carolina. With tropical-storm force winds reaching about 415 miles (665 kilometers) from its center, Ian was forecast to shove storm surge of 5 feet (1.5 meters) into coastal areas in Georgia and the Carolinas. Rainfall of up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) threatened flooding from South Carolina to Virginia.

National Guard troops were being positioned in South Carolina to help with the aftermath, including any water rescues. On Thursday afternoon, a steady stream of vehicles left Charleston, a 350-year-old city.

Sheriffs in southwest Florida said 911 centers were inundated by thousands of stranded callers, some with life-threatening emergencies. The U.S. Coast Guard began rescue efforts hours before daybreak on barrier islands near where Ian struck, DeSantis said. More than 800 federal urban search-and-rescuers were also in the area.

In the Orlando area, Orange County firefighters used boats to reach people in a flooded neighborhood. Patients from a nursing home were carried on stretchers across floodwaters to a bus.

In Fort Myers, Valerie Bartley’s family spent desperate hours holding a dining room table against the patio door, fearing the storm “was tearing our house apart.”

“I was terrified,” Bartley said. “What we heard was the shingles and debris from everything in the neighborhood hitting our house.”

The storm ripped away patio screens and snapped a palm tree in the yard, Bartley said, but left the roof intact and her family unharmed.

Long lines formed at gas stations in Fort Myers and a Home Depot hardware store opened, letting in a few customers at a time.

Frank Pino was near the back of the line, with about 100 people in front of him.

“I hope they leave something,” Pino said, “because I need almost everything.”

A 72-year-old man in Deltona died after falling into a canal while using a hose to drain his pool in the heavy rain, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said. A 38-year-old man from Lake County died Wednesday in an accident after his vehicle hydroplaned, according to authorities.

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.

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

South of Sanibel Island, the historic beachfront pier in Naples was destroyed, with even the pilings torn out. “Right now, there is no pier,” said Collier County Commissioner Penny Taylor.

In Port Charlotte, a hospital’s emergency room flooded and fierce winds ripped away part of the roof, sending water gushing into the intensive care unit. The sickest patients — some on ventilators — were crowded into the middle two floors as the staff prepared for storm victims to arrive, said Dr. Birgit Bodine of HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital.

Ian struck Florida with 150 mph (241 kph) winds that tied it for the fifth-strongest hurricane ever to hit the U.S.

While scientists generally avoid blaming climate change for specific storms without detailed analysis, Ian’s watery destruction fits what scientists have predicted for a warmer world: stronger and wetter hurricanes, though not necessarily more of them.

“This business about very, very heavy rain is something we’ve expected to see because of climate change,” said MIT atmospheric scientist Kerry Emanuel. “We’ll see more storms like Ian.”

___

Associated Press contributors include Cody Jackson in Tampa, Florida; Freida Frisaro in Miami; Mike Schneider in Orlando, Florida; Seth Borenstein in Washington; and Bobby Caina Calvan in New York.

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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