Hurricane Ian: 21 dead as category 1 storm makes landfall in South Carolina

Hurricane Ian has made landfall once again. After tearing a swath through Florida and then heading out to sea, it has now returned to land hitting South Carolina at 2.05pm Friday US time (4.05am Saturday AEST).

It’s left destruction in its wake. In one Florida town it hit a cemetery with such force coffins were pulled from under the earth and began to float away while at least one body could be seen in a broken casket.

The grim scene occurred in a graveyard near Orlando where the powerful then-category 4 storm hit on Wednesday.

At least 21 people have died but there are suspected to be many more fatalities. Two million people are currently without power.

By the time it left Florida Ian had weakened to a tropical storm but it re-energised in the Atlantic Ocean to a category 1 storm.

It made landfall once again at Georgetown between the major centres of Charleston and Myrtle Beach, during Friday afternoon. It had wind gusts of 140 km/h.

A tornado warning has been issued for 5 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia.

Storm brings coffins to surface

The devastation wrought in Florida was particularly gruesome in the town of Oakland, west of Orlando.

Heavy rain flooded the local cemetery on Wednesday. That brought some coffins from their resting place to the surface which were then seen floating in the water.

According to local Florida TV station Fox 35, one coffin was then smashed open by a fallen tree revealing the remains inside.

One man had headed to the cemetery to see if he could find his grandmother’s plot. She had only been buried last Tuesday.

“Right now, it’s a lot. It’s kind of hard to really believe,” he said.

Large areas of Florida’s south west have seen major flooding with the area around Fort Myers – in the direct path of Ian – without water.

The city of 800,000 people had been devastated said Mayor Kevin Anderson.

“Just look at the boats. These are some large boats. And they’ve been thrown around like they were toys,” he said on CNN on Friday.

Many of those boats are now lying in backyards, lodged in the sides of houses or stranded on city streets after they were washed inland.

Images from a highway near the storm’s path shows a huge line of ambulances and other emergency vehicles waiting to help.

Sanibel Island, off Florida’s west coast, was right under the hurricane’s eye. Its bridge to the mainland was washed away meaning it is only accessible by boat or helicopter.

It was confirmed on Friday that two elderly Floridians who relied on oxygen machines died when the power went out and the machines stopped working.

Staggering cost of Ian

By some estimates the clear up cost of Hurricane Ian could reach US$65 billion (A$100bn). That was from a projection by data firm Enki Reserach, reported ABC News US. If so, that would make it Florida’s most expensive storm in history.

US President Joe Biden said it would take “years” to rebuild in some places.

“We’re just beginning to see the scale of that destruction,” he said at the White House on Friday.

“It’s going to take months, years to rebuild. And our hearts go out to all those folks whose lives have been absolutely devastated by the storm. America’s heart is literally breaking.”

Ian hits land again

The National Hurricane Centre has warned that “Life-threatening storm surge and hurricane conditions are expected by (Friday) afternoon,” across the entire South Caroline coast.

It struck land again at 2.05pm on Friday 100km north of Charleston.

Winds of more than 110 km/h can be expected with storms urges of more than two metres around Charleston and Myrtle Beach.

The storm is then expected to head inland affecting a large tract of the US south east. It will weaken over land but will still pack a fierce punch.

Originally published as Hurricane Ian makes landfall in South Carolina following Florida devastation

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