Ian pushes towards Bladen County

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ELIZABETHTOWN — As Hurricane Ian continues its northward march along the Eastern Seaboard, Bladen County residents and National Weather Service forecasters are bracing for the storm’s landfall here.

On Thursday afternoon, the National Weather Service issued a series of watches and warnings related to Ian’s possible arrival in and around Bladen County.

Thursday’s changes included the following, related to the greater Bladen County area:

– A tropical storm warning has been issued for Bladen, Columbus, Inland Brunswick, Inland New Hanover, Inland Pender and Robeson counties.

– The tropical storm warning was upgraded to a hurricane warning and the storm surge watch was upgraded to a storm surge warning for Coastal Georgetown and Coastal Horry County, South Carolina.

– The tropical storm warning has been upgraded to a hurricane warning for Central Horry, Inland Georgetown and Northern Horry

– Tropical Storm Watch has been upgraded to a hurricane warning for Williamsburg

– The tropical storm watch has been upgraded to a tropical storm warning for Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Marion and Marlboro counties.

– A storm surge watch has been issued for Coastal Brunswick, Coastal New Hanover and Coastal Pender

The storm was expected to land in the Charleston, South Carolina area and move north toward Bladen County, bringing heavy rain, high winds and gusty winds, as well as flooding to low-lying areas. .

The strongest winds were expected to arrive early Friday morning with sustained winds of at least 30 miles per hour and up to 70 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Accompanying the wind, residents should expect power outages throughout the county.

Duke Energy, which provides electricity to most of the region, has an interactive outage map at https://outagemap.duke-energy.com/#/current-outages/ncsc, where residents can see reported power outages.

The National Weather Service said residents can prepare for tropical winds, which could cause damage in the following form:

WIND

– Damage to roofing and siding, as well as damage to porches and awnings. A few buildings are experiencing window, door and garage door failures.

– Damage to vulnerable structures such as carports, sheds and mobile homes is possible.

– Large branches will be felled with several broken or uprooted trees. Several fences and traffic signs can be knocked down. Some roads may become impassable due to large debris blocking the roadway, especially in urban or heavily forested areas.

– Some bridges, causeways and elevated roads can be affected by high winds, making driving dangerous.

Scattered power and communication outages are possible, but more common in areas with lines above ground.

Also protect against dangerous winds with limited impacts possible in interior South Carolina and southeastern North Carolina.

FLOOD

As for flooding, the National Weather Service has issued a weather report to help protect against deadly flooding. Potential impacts include:

– Major flooding due to precipitation can lead to evacuations and many rescues.

– Rivers and streams can quickly overflow their beds in several places. Streams and ditches will be flooded and may contain strong currents.

– Flood waters can enter many structures and some may become uninhabitable.

– Some washouts or complete road breaks will be possible, as well as the potential for sinkholes.

– Many streets and parking lots may be flooded and may be affected by the flow of water. Numerous low-lying road and bridge closures are possible, with some being weakened or washed away.

– The traffic conditions will be dangerous. Drinking water supply and sewage services could be interrupted.

– Flood waters can be polluted and contain hazardous materials.

TORNADOES

The National Weather Service also said tornadoes could accompany the storm when it arrives on Friday.

“Protect against a tornado event with limited potential impacts in southeastern North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina,” according to the weather report released Thursday afternoon.

Potential impacts include:

– The occurrence of isolated tornadoes can hamper the execution of emergency plans during tropical events.

– A few locations may experience tornado damage, as well as power and communications disruptions.

– Tornadoes can damage trees, vehicles, boats and buildings. Unsecured mobile homes and poorly constructed structures are particularly vulnerable.

STORM IMPACT

Rescue teams waded through flooded streets and used boats Thursday in a scramble to rescue those trapped after Hurricane Ian tore through a cross-section of Florida and brought torrential rains that continued to fall .

The destruction began to gather momentum a day after Ian made landfall in Florida as one of the strongest hurricanes to hit the United States. The storm flooded homes on both coasts of the state, cut the only bridge to a barrier island, destroyed a historic waterfront pier and knocked out power to 2.5 million homes and businesses. businesses in Florida. At least one man has been confirmed dead.

“We have never seen a storm surge of this magnitude,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said at a press conference. “The amount of water that has increased, and will likely continue to increase today even as the storm passes, is essentially a 500-year flood.”

Although downgraded to a tropical storm on Thursday morning, the National Hurricane Center said storm surges and torrential rains remained a threat as Ian crossed the Florida peninsula and emerged into the Atlantic Ocean. Forecasters predicted a northerly turn toward South Carolina and a hurricane warning was issued for the state’s coastline.

Southwest Florida sheriffs said 911 centers were inundated with thousands of blocked callers, some with life-threatening emergencies. The U.S. Coast Guard began rescue efforts at dawn on barrier islands near where Ian struck, DeSantis said. Fire departments also deployed to flooded areas.

In the Orlando area, Orange County firefighters used boats to reach residents of a flooded neighborhood. A photo posted by the department on Twitter showed a firefighter carrying someone in his arms in knee-deep water. At an area nursing home surrounded by water, patients were carried on stretchers through floodwaters to a waiting bus.

In Fort Myers, a few miles west of the barrier island where Ian landed, Valerie Bartley’s family spent desperate hours Wednesday holding a dining room table against their patio door, fearing the Storm raging outside “tear our house apart”.

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

She said her 4-year-old daughter grabbed her hand and said, “I’m scared too, but I’ll be fine.” The girl was right. The storm ripped patio screens and snapped a palm tree in the yard, Bartley said, but left the roof intact and his family unharmed.

Authorities have confirmed at least one death in Florida – a 72-year-old Deltona man who fell into a canal while using a hose to drain his pool in the pouring rain, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said . Two more storm-related deaths were reported in Cuba after Ian hit the island nation earlier.

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said his office is scrambling to respond to thousands of 911 calls, but many roads and bridges in and around Fort Myers remain impassable.

“It crushed us.” Marceno told “Good Morning America” ​​on ABC. “We still cannot access many people in need.”

Emergency crews sawed down fallen trees to reach stranded people. Many in the hardest hit areas were unable to call for help due to widespread power and cell outages.

“Portable towers are on their way to cell service. Chances are your loved ones won’t be able to contact you,” the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, which includes Naples, said. “We can tell you daylight reveals the aftermath, it’s going to be a tough day.”

A piece of Sanibel Causeway fell into the sea, cutting off access to the barrier island where 6,300 people normally live. It was unclear how many had heeded evacuation orders, but Charlotte County Emergency Management Director Patrick Fuller expressed cautious optimism that the worst-case scenarios might not have been made.

No deaths or injuries have been confirmed in the county, and flyovers of the barrier islands show “home integrity is much better than expected,” Fuller said.

South of Sanibel Island, Naples’ historic waterfront pier was destroyed, even the pilings below were ripped out, as towering waves crashed into the structure. “At this time, there is no pier,” said Penny Taylor, commissioner for Collier County.

In Port Charlotte, a hospital emergency room was flooded and high winds ripped off 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 staff prepared for the arrival of storm victims, said Dr. Birgit Bodine of HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital.

The Florida Highway Patrol has closed the Florida Turnpike in the Orlando area and said the main thoroughfare through the middle of the state will remain closed until the water recedes.

Ian hit Florida as a monstrous Category 4 storm, with 150mph (241kph) winds tying it the fifth strongest hurricane to ever hit the United States.

Even after weakening, tropical storm-force winds from Ian still reached 415 miles (667 kilometers) from its center. The hurricane center warned that a storm surge of 6 feet (1.83 meters) or more was possible from Daytona Beach, Florida, north of Charleston, South Carolina. And rainfall of up to 8 inches (20.32 centimeters) threatened flooding in the Carolinas and Virginia.

“It doesn’t matter how bad the storm is. We’re still expecting quite a bit of precipitation,” Robbie Berg, senior hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center, said in an interview with The Associated Press.

The US Coast Guard has launched a search and rescue mission for 23 people after a boat carrying Cuban migrants sank in stormy weather east of Key West on Wednesday. He found three survivors and four others swam to shore, the US Border Patrol said. Air crews continued to search for possibly 20 remaining migrants.

Associated Press reporter Adriana Gomez-Licon contributed to this story.

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