Hurricane Ian made landfall Wednesday in western Florida at 2:24 p.m. — causing panic and wreaking havoc as it destroyed buildings, ripped trees from the ground, flooded houses and left cars floating.
The storm first hit North Captive Island, which is just west of Fort Myers and Cape Coral, Accuweather reported.
Florida is preparing for tens of billions of dollars in damage and up to 18-foot storm surges as the hurricane moves inland with the large cities of Tampa and Orlando preparing for impact.
Gov. Ron DeSantis latest statement said, “Ian is currently a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 155 miles per hour, nearing a Category 5.”
Much of Naples, Florida is currently underwater and overwhelmed by flooding, according to video footage and emergency services.
More than 620,000 Floridians are without power — and outages are growing rapidly.
Erik Mogelvang via Storyful
Fort Myers is under evacuation orders and lies within the hurricane’s direct path, but is already feeling its effects with storm surges so high they have left cameras recording the hurricane underwater. Power lines have been downed and sparked fireballs as they hit the water, and streets were rapicly flooded.
Ryan Lamb, fire chief and emergency management director of Cape Coral, Florida, told CNN: “We’re getting reports of significant structural damage across our city, as well as significant rain.”
If the behemoth storm’s winds increase by just two miles per hour, it will be considered a Category 5 hurricane, and has the potential to be one of the most devastating to ever hit the US.
Only four Category 5 hurricanes have ever reached the continental US.
“This is going to be a nasty nasty day, two days,” DeSantis warned his state’s residents.
Ian already devastated Cuba, where large swaths of the island are without power after it rolled through the nation as a Category 3 storm.
The storm is moving at 9 miles per hour, and is expected to slowly make its way northeast across the Sunshine State, hitting cities like Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville.
More than 2.5 million people are under mandatory evacuation orders, which are not actually enforceable.
The governor said he has readied tens of thousands of people to operate search and rescue teams, including 7,000 members of the National Guard.
SOURCE: New york post