Ian already leaves a trail of destruction behind him. The feared hurricane, which was once thought to reach the maximum category (5), although in the end it stayed at 4 and has already been lowered to 3 –becoming a tropical storm– as it crosses Florida in a northeasterly direction. A reduction in its intensity that, however, has not prevented Ian from causing numerous damages after entering Florida on the west coast, in the Tampa area, with severely flooded houses, tidal waves in the streets affecting the trees and urban furniture and two and a half million inhabitants without electricity. However, the winds have reached 250 km/h.
Specifically, among the main damages, 2.5 million people have suffered a collapse that has left a multitude of Florida counties totally or partially without electricity service, according to the website PowerOutage.us, which tracks of blackouts across the United States.
On the southwest coast of Florida, waves of more than two meters above sea level have been recorded and in Port Charlotte, 150 km south of Tampa, the storm surge has flooded the ground floor of a hospital whose strong winds, In addition, the roof has been ripped off, forcing the sick to be evacuated and relocated.
In Fort Myers, just south of Port Charlotte, the images of the sea entering the streets of the city are shocking and emergency teams have received numerous calls from people trapped in completely flooded houses.
So far no victims have been reported in the impact zone, but in the Florida Keys, in the south of the state, 23 Cuban rafters are being searched for who were aboard a boat that was shipwrecked in the midst of strong waves caused by the hurricane. The US Coast Guard has found three survivors and four more migrants have swum ashore and another three were rescued by the Coast Guard, which continues to search for the missing.
Ian had previously struck Cuba, killing two people and bringing down the country's power grid.
Ian made landfall in southwestern Florida this Wednesday afternoon as a category four hurricane, tying for the fifth-strongest hurricane on record in US history, according to The Washington Post. In fact, this hurricane is reminiscent of Charley, from 2004, the strongest to make landfall on the west coast of the Florida peninsula.
"At 3:05 a.m. (local time), the eye of Hurricane Ian made landfall near Cayo Costa, Florida, as a category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of up to 250 kilometers per hour," details the US National Hurricane Center. –NHC, for its acronym in English– on its official Twitter profile.
Although the intensity has been lowered to become a tropical storm and, with this, the alarm is also lowered, the agency has warned that "storm surges, winds and catastrophic floods" would continue as the storm moves inland. Thus, it is feared that the hurricane will intensify in its advance towards Georgia and South Carolina. Both states, along with Virginia, have already declared a state of emergency.
Listed as "extremely dangerous", the NHC has warned that Ian, which has around 2.5 million people on evacuation alert, will soon "cause catastrophic storm surge, wind and flooding".
About 21 million people are on standby to face blackouts and floods in the next few hours and the hurricane is expected to cause more than 67,000 million dollars (68,800 million euros) in damage and losses, according to the news agency Bloomberg.