South Florida begins to assess damage from Hurricane Ian

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As Hurricane Ian made landfall Wednesday near Fort Myers, its broad powers reached across the state and continued to batter South Florida with swaths of intense weather expected to continue through Thursday.

The storm had a major impact on the east coast of Florida, flooding the streets of Key West, throwing migrants into the sea, causing royal tides to rise nearly a foot higher than expected in Fort Lauderdale and causing the minus two tornadoes in Broward County on Tuesday. overnight, the National Weather Service said.

Tornadoes followed similar tracks over Weston, Sunrise, Davie, Cooper City, Hollywood and Pembroke Pines.

In Kings Point, west of Delray Beach, a tornado touchdown left two people hospitalized and 35 others displaced, said Capt. Tom Reyes, spokesman for Palm Beach County Fire Rescue.

Across the canal from King’s Point, Lesley and Jerry Silverman were at their neighbors in Floral Lakes, playing cards.

“It was a good thing to do on a bad night,” Lesley Silverman said. “Then we heard this noise, this really awful noise.” She described it as increasingly loud thunder, with debris hitting the windows.

When the roar died down, they looked outside. A car fender lay on the grass. They met their daughter, Emilee, in their own home, where fire crews cut down trees so residents could enter their homes. On the other side of the canal, they could see damaged houses.

“You can see inside the pantry of one of the apartments there,” Lesley Silverman said.

In the aftermath Wednesday afternoon, residents of King’s Point covered shattered car windows with tarps and covered holes in their homes. Some houses had no doors or windows, and one was impaled by a tree.

Other residents carried suitcases on their way to visit friends or relatives. Maria Esturiljo followed her son, Tony, down the road. Neither had ever seen a tornado before. “Hurricane yes, tornado no,” Esturiljo said. Behind them, the tornado had twisted the red car she was driving into a piece of scrap metal.

Two residents remained at the hospital Wednesday afternoon and more than 30 spent the night at the neighborhood Clubhouse. Most were later moved to the South County Civic Center down the road. Some went out on Wednesday afternoon, picked up by friends or family, but about half were left with nowhere to go. They slept in cots in the auditorium. “I don’t have a nightgown,” Harriet Finkel said, lifting the white purse that held most of her remaining belongings. “I have no underwear.”

Several planes flipped over during an apparent tornado Tuesday night in Pembroke Pines at North Perry Airport.

At North Perry Airport, 30 personal planes and hangars were damaged in a tornado in Pembroke Pines, said Arlene Satchell, spokeswoman for the airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

The storm sank a boat carrying some 27 migrants off Key West. Four migrants were able to swim to Stock Island, just east of Key West, at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, and told Border Patrol officials that 23 others were stranded at sea.

Three of the missing people were rescued 2 miles south of Boca Chica near Key West. They were hospitalized and treated for exhaustion and dehydration, U.S. Coast Guard Southeast officials said. said in a Tweet shortly before 3:30 p.m.

Petty Officer Nicole Groll, spokeswoman for Coast Guard District Seven, said officials are still looking for the other 20, but “the chances that they are still alive are not good.”

The National Hurricane Center added hurricane warnings to Florida’s east-central coast, as far south as Sebastian Inlet, as the storm now appears to remain more intact as it crosses the state.

National Weather Service meteorologist Anthony Reynes said tropical bands can produce wind gusts of up to 40 or 50 mph and knock down trees.

A King Point resident looks through her shattered window Wednesday as a man boards a shattered window from an overnight tornado spawned by Hurricane Ian in the 55+ community of Kings Point in Delray Beach.

Hollywood resident Gary Adams heard a boom outside his house on Tuesday night and the sound of something rolling on his roof. “Then I heard clinks on the terrace over there as the chairs fell over. I looked at my wife and said, ‘What was that?’ … I walked in through the garage door and looked out the window onto the street and said, “That tree doesn’t belong there.”

The entire region can expect tropical storm conditions, and rain-induced flooding is possible across the region through Thursday morning.

“The storm is moving very slowly, so conditions aren’t going to improve anytime soon,” Reynes said. “It’s going to take all day and all night. We can expect intermittent bands of rain and some of these may have gusty winds up to tropical storm force. Slow moving showers can become potential for localized flooding in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties.

High winds are expected to last through Thursday afternoon in Palm Beach County and Wednesday morning through predawn Thursday. in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

Gus Goren cleans up debris from his yard on Jefferson Street in Hollywood on Wednesday after a tornado touched down overnight, snapping a tree at its base and sending him rushing into his house and car.

The storm’s cone of possibility—the area over which the storm’s center could move—passes just north of Lake Okeechobee. Western sections of Palm Beach County have an 80% or greater chance of tropical storm-force winds on Wednesday, while eastern sections, as well as Broward County have a 60% to 80% chance.

On Tuesday, Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, who represents western Palm Beach County, including the Glades area, said a levee rehabilitation project around Lake Okeechobee has resulted in major improvements in flood resistance.

“We have been in contact with the Army Corps of Engineers. They assure us that the levee is in the best position for decades,” she said, adding that the lake is about 2½ feet below its normal position at this time of year, “there is so plenty of storage space available in the lake.”

A car parked in a flooded parking lot at Sawgrass Mills at Sunrise Wednesday.

The Florida Power and Light website says there were some 16,540 customers without power in Broward County as of 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, with an additional 11,980 customers without power in Palm Beach County.

Schools in the tri-county area were closed on Wednesday and the tri-counties will also close schools on Thursday. Florida Atlantic University also canceled all classes, including those online, Wednesday and Thursday.

Palm Beach County expects sustained winds of 39 mph, heavy rain and tornadic activity to continue overnight and into Thursday, the county reported.

In addition to Palm Beach County schools remaining closed, all county operations will also be closed and all Palm Tran services will be suspended Thursday.

Solid Waste Authority facilities will, however, be open and garbage collection will take place Thursday in the unincorporated county of Palm Beach.

Many Floridians evacuating from the west coast headed east.

At a Monday press conference, Governor Ron DeSantis spoke about the evacuations and suggested evacuees consider heading to South Florida. “Go south through Alligator Alley,” he said. “South Florida is better.”

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Matt Denson, general manager of the 19-room boutique Snooze Hotel on North Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard, said the hotel saw a significant surge in bookings due to the storm.

“It’s very strange,” he said. “I’ve been through several storms over the decades and I’ve never had such fluctuation in bookings. I’ve had 15 cancellations between today and yesterday and 14 withdrawals. It’s amazing. I have one left. beachfront suite for sale.

It’s normally the slowest time of year for hotels in Fort Lauderdale, he said, but “it’s the busiest I’ve been, given that there are winds 50 mph right outside my door.”

Southwest Airlines, a major airline serving South Florida’s three airports, suspended flights to the entire tri-county area on Wednesday after reducing service to other Florida airports in the path of the Hurricane Ian.

The suspensions came even though Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Miami International Airport and Palm Beach International Airport remained open to commercial flights.

The memo says suspensions apply through Thursday for service to Tampa, Sarasota, Fort Myers and Orlando, whose airports have also closed. International flights to Havana, Cuba are also suspended with no resumption time.

Editors Shira Moolten, David Lyons, Angie DiMichele and Amy Beth Bennett contributed to this report.

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