Hurricane Ian causes at least 45 deaths in Florida and lashes South Carolina

Losses are estimated at more than US$100 billion and authorities speak of historic damage.

At least 45 people have been killed by Hurricane Ian in Florida, according to CNN. Ian also hit South Carolina on Friday afternoon with heavy rains, destructive winds and storm surges.

Ian, made landfall near Georgetown and unleashed flooding and altered the coastal landscape. At 5 p.m. (Miami time) Ian became a post-tropical cyclone, with winds of 70 mph (112 km/h) as it moved inland over the Carolinas.

"This is a dangerous storm that will bring high winds and lots of water," reported South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster.

"Be smart, make good decisions, check on your loved ones and stay safe," said McMaster

According to forecasters, a hurricane warning is in effect from the Savannah River on the Georgia-South Carolina border to Cape Fear, North Carolina. Major flooding from seawater and rain is expected. In South Carolina, where storm surges of up to 2.1 meters and 101 to 305 mm of rain could occur.

Florida havoc

In Florida several coastal homes were swept out to sea and numerous buildings were destroyed across the state, floodwaters also trapped some residents inland in places like Orlando.

Losses are estimated at more than US$100 billion and authorities are speaking of "historic" damage.

On Wednesday, at 15:05 local time, Ian made landfall with winds of 150 mph in Cayo Costa, near cities such as Fort Myers, Sarasota and Tampa, being the hardest hit. Already classified as a category 4 hurricane, it crossed part of the state and left infrastructure destroyed and areas devastated in its wake. The power grid was affected with more than 2.6 million homes being left without electricity.

Governor Ron DeSantis reported approximately 700 rescues by the more than 30,000 emergency services personnel working around the clock aided by helicopters in areas inaccessible by road. The city of Fort Myers, with a population of 83,500, is considered to be the hardest hit so far.

Historical damage

The National Hurricane Center (CNH) confirmed that Ian ranks as the fifth most powerful hurricane to impact Florida in its history.

DeSantis assured that although the damage caused by the hurricane was historic, the priority is to rescue possible survivors and they are awaiting federal funds to start with "construction from scratch" of the affected areas:

We have never seen a flood like this before. This is why in some areas they will have to build from scratch, because it will not be possible to rebuild. Construction will not happen overnight, but help is on the way.

Measures to prevent looting

Governor Ron DeSantis, issued a public warning to prevent a wave of looting in the properties of the victims of Hurricane Ian: "Florida is a Second Amendment state." With this phrase, the Republican governor is trying to prevent vandalism.

The Second Amendment referred to by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis establishes the right to bear and use arms.

"We are a law-and-order state, and this is a law-and-order community. So do not think that they are going to take advantage of people who have suffered misery," said the governor.