Friday, September 30, 2022

Wake-Up Call: Ian Heads Toward South Carolina, Devastation In Florida

Ian's Track (Wall Street Journal graphic)

Ian, now a hurricane again, is threatening to carve a new path of destruction through South Carolina Friday when it roars ashore north of Charleston, according to Bloomberg.

The storm will drive a surge of water into the city of 3 to 6 feet (1.8 meters) and drop up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) of rain, according to Mike Doll, a meteorologist at commercial-forecaster AccuWeather Inc.

Power outages will reach far inland as Ian’s winds shake trees and power lines throughout the region. The storm is likely to create an even higher flooding surge further up the coast, with as much as 10 feet of water being pushed on shore in places, Doll said. Around Myrtle Beach, the surge could be also be 3 to 6 feet.

The damage in South Carolina, and the flooding rains inland, will be severe but won’t rival the devastation across Florida, where it may take weeks or months to assess the true cost, Doll said.

“This is going to be among the most devastating hurricanes we have seen in the US,” he said. “Is it as bad as Katrina? Probably not, but the coastline in southwest Florida is going to be forever altered from this.”

Early estimates by catastrophe risk modelers project that Ian’s insured losses in Florida — excluding claims to the National Flood Insurance Program — will be in the $30 billion to $50 billion range

  • Biden Declares Emergency for South Carolina 
Biden declared an emergency exists in South Carolina, authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide equipment and resources to the state now in the storm’s crosshairs.

Life-threatening storm surge and hurricane conditions are expected in the state later Friday, with flooding expected across the Carolinas and southwestern Virginia, the National Hurricane Center said in an update. The storm is about 175 miles (282 kilometers) south-southeast of Charleston, with winds at 85 miles per hour.

  • Rescue Efforts Continue in Hard-hit Florida
More than 700 people trapped in floodwaters have been rescued in southwest Florida but emergency crews are still at work. About 2.6 million people still didn’t have power last night. One of the worst-hit cities was Fort Myers, where chest-deep floodwaters flowed through streets and then receded, leaving piles of wreckage and debris. A city official tole CNN that about 90 percent of the structures on Estero Island, where Ft. Myers is located, had been destroyed. Piles of destroyed boats clogged Sanibel Island’s Marina and a causeway leading to the island had partially collapsed.  More than 300 miles away, Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, a 17th century Spanish fort, was flooded.

Parts of Orlando got 14 inches of rain during the storm.  At least a dozen wastewater treatment facilities in Florida overflowed, discharging raw or partially treated waste into local waters, according to The New York Times.

  • Orlando Airport, Disney World to Reopen Friday
Orlando International Airport will resume passenger flights at noon Friday and the Walt Disney World Resort will restart theme park operations in a phased approach starting Friday as the threatening winds and rain move north.

  • Florida Sees Remaining Ports Reopening by Saturday
FLA Governor Ron DeSantis

Ports in Florida that are still shut will reopen by Saturday, and the state is trucking in food, water, ice, blankets, tarp and pet supplies to help people devastated by the storm, Governor Ron DeSantis said at a press conference Thursday evening.

“They will bounce back, but we have to make sure we pave the way for them,” DeSantis said of the people impacted by the hurricane in Southwest Florida.

DeSantis said he anticipates deaths from the storm, but wouldn’t say how many fatalities the state had been able to confirm yet. Trucks are delivering gasoline to fueling stations in the state and utility workers are restoring power to many, but in areas including Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel Island and Pine Island the damage is severe enough that blackouts will remain lengthy, he said. The state had more than 2 million customers without power, according to

West Palm Beach Post 9/30/22

  • Ian’s Winds Reach Hurricane Strength Again
Ian’s wind have strengthened to 75 mph, making it a Category 1 hurricane on the five-step, Saffir-Simpson scale, the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory.

The hurricane’s top winds will likely strengthen to 80 mph overnight, however it will still be a Category 1 storm, the hurricane center said.

“Hurricane-force winds are expected across the coasts of South Carolina and southeastern North Carolina beginning early Friday, where a hurricane warning is in effect,” Eric Blake, a forecaster at the center, wrote in his outlook. “Hurricane conditions are possible tonight along the coasts of northeastern Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina where a hurricane watch is in effect.”

  • Utility With Major Outages Had Pole Woes in 2021


Lee County Electric Cooperative said that 92% of its customers are without power as of Thursday afternoon after Ian swept through the region. One compounding issue may have been the condition of its utility poles.

When the cooperative filed a report to regulators on its storm-hardening efforts earlier this year, it disclosed that 5,904 distribution poles -- or 19% of inspected poles on its network -- failed inspections last year. The vast majority failed due to rot, decay or other damage. The utility said it repaired or replaced nearly 750 poles in 2021.

The cooperative also said its equipment wasn’t waterproof, although it was designed to be “water resistant” with the majority of its underground facilities, excluding conduits and cables, at or above existing grade, according to its report.

  • FCC Reports Radio Off-Air
Nearly two dozen television and radio stations in Florida were knocked off the air by the relentless winds and flooding rains from Hurricane Ian, taking with it critical sources of information during the emergency. In all, six TV stations, 15 FM stations, and six AM stations were off the air, the FCC said in a status report Thursday in the storm's disastrous wake. The agency didn't specify which stations were out of service, but WINK-TV, the CBS affiliate in Fort Myers, reported it had been knocked off the air by the catastrophic 'cane. At the WINK studios, the station's chief meteorologist Matt Devitt posted stunning video showing the storm surge flooding into the outlet's offices.  In the meantime, the station said it was posting updates for its viewers on social media. 

Inside Radio reports Beasley Media Group stations were airing audio from Waterman Broadcasting “NBC-2” WBBH-TV while iHeartMedia’s stations in the market were simulcasting “Operation Storm Watch” from news/talk sister “NewsRadio” WFLA Tampa (970). Several station streams in the market were offline Thursday afternoon. Up the Gulf Coast in Tampa and across the I-4 corridor in Orlando, most FMs had returned to regular programming on Thursday, while airing frequent storm updates. In Jacksonville, Cox Media Group news/talk “News 104.5” WOKV was in wall-to-wall Ian coverage.


  • Storm Knocked Out 11% of Florida’s Wireless Networks 
Storm damage and power outages knocked out more than 1,500 cell sites, leaving about 11% of Florida’s wireless networks out of service in the wake of Hurricane Ian, according to a status update from the Federal Communications Commission.

The scope of the mobile phone service disruptions span the entire state from the Keys, where Monroe County to Bradford County in northern Florida. So far, most of the severe damage was in western and southern Florida, including Lee and Hendry counties, where about 66% of cell sites are reported to be out of service.

The damage to communication systems also includes disruption to cable and phone company services such as TV, phone and internet. About half a million landline subscribers in the hurricane disaster area are without service, according to the FCC update.

  • Iconic Causeway Damaged from ‘Biblical’ Surge
Sanibel Island off Florida’s Gulf coast was hit with a “biblical storm surge” from Hurricane Ian, which destroyed homes and caused a collapse of the sole road linking the island to mainland, according to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

The hurricane caused extensive damage to the Sanibel Causeway, an iconic trio of two-lane bridges spanning San Carlos Bay to connect the island of Sanibel to the mainland. The storm left the link unusable to vehicle traffic. The governor said there are air and boat operations to rescue those who are still stranded on the island, which is home to about 6,000 people.

Sanibel Island, a 25-mile drive from Fort Myers, is a popular tourist destination with many people visiting during the winter months.

  • Utility Uses Drones to Assess Damage
Florida’s largest utility said it will provide estimates for when power will be restored within 24 hours of assessing damage, though it will take longer for hard-hit areas, especially where Ian made landfall. Florida Power & Light has 21,000 people in the field working to assess damage and restore power.

“In areas impassable due to floodwater or debris, we will use a fleet of drones to assess damage,” company representative Bryan Garner said at an afternoon news briefing. The NextEra Energy Inc. unit invested in storm hardening for its grid during the past decade, which included burying infrastructure and replacing wooden poles with concrete ones.

“That said, no grid is hurricane proof,” Garner said. “Hurricane Ian impacted almost the entire peninsula of Florida. Some areas, like southwest Florida, had catastrophic damage.”

  • Florida Gas Stations Wait for Power to Return
Florida gas stations that were in Ian’s path are closed while others outside the cone of destruction may face disruption as suppliers wait for the power to return and roads to clear.

Close to 11% of Florida’s gas stations were without fuel Thursday, said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. All of the stations between Fort Meyers and Naples were closed, Ned Bowman, executive director of the Florida Fuel Marketers Association, said in an interview. The state has about 7,400 retail stations, he said.

Fuel racks in Jacksonville were still closed, while flooded terminals in Orlando were waiting for deliveries from other parts of the state. Fuel bottlenecks could complicate efforts to rebuild from what is likely to amount to tens of billions of dollars in damages. Across Florida’s southwest, residents were still trapped in their homes with limited electricity and mobile phone coverage.

Orlando rescue

  • Duke Energy Prepares for Outages in Carolinas
Duke Energy Corp. said it’s readying crews to respond to potential power outages across the Carolinas as Ian approaches the region.

“The storm is expected to bring with it strong winds and heavy rains that could lead to localized flooding,” the company said in a statement.

High water and flooding is possible on Duke Energy lakes, said the company, which is lowering levels by moving water through its river systems, creating more storage for rainfall and runoff.

  • Deaths
It wasn't clear how many fatalities Ian had caused in Florida, with assistance slow to reach hard-hit communities and many roadways flooded or blocked. At least one death has been reported: A 72-year-old man in Deltona, Fla., drowned after he went outside to try to drain his pool, authorities said. Officials feared the death toll would climb significantly.  President Joe Biden has said early indications suggest that there could be a significant death toll. “We’re hearing early reports of what may be substantial loss of life,” Biden said on Thursday.

🏈HURRICANE? WHAT HURRICANE? The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be back home at Raymond James Stadium to play the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday in spite of the hurricane that struck the region this week. Tampa Bay emerged from Hurricane Ian with relatively little damage.

🏈CARDINALS’ MOORE READY TO PLAY PANTHERS: Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Rondale Moore said yesterday that he’s good to go for Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers. It will be his first game of the season after a hamstring injury sustained in practice.

🏀76ERS’ JOEL EMBIID NOW A U.S. CITIZEN: Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid has been officially sworn in as a U.S. citizen. He has been in the U.S. since 2013 but was born in Cameroon and also holds French citizenship.

🏈BRETT FAVRE’S CHARITY GAVE MONEY TO HIS ALMA MATER: A charitable foundation founded by retired Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre donated nearly $133,000 to athletics programs at his alma mater, the University of Southern Mississippi, between 2018 and 2020, USA TODAY Sports reports. His foundation’s stated purpose is to help disadvantaged and disabled children and breast cancer survivors. Favre in turn received some money from the state which turned out to be part of a federal welfare fund for needy families. Favre has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

🏈THURSDAY NIGHT NFL RESULTS:  Cincinnati Bengals 27, Miami Dolphins 15

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