Ian Latest: Weaker Storm Brings Rain, Flash Floods to Carolinas

Ian Latest: Weaker Storm Brings Rain, Flash Floods to Carolinas

1 Oct    Finance News, Physics

Ian lost its hurricane status after pummeling South Carolina with violent winds and a deadly storm surge, knocking out power to tens of thousands in the US Southeast.

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(Bloomberg) — Ian lost its hurricane status after pummeling South Carolina with violent winds and a deadly storm surge, knocking out power to tens of thousands in the US Southeast.

Ian is still bringing heavy rain, flash floods and high winds to both South and North Carolina, where US President Joe Biden declared an emergency and ordered federal assistance to supplement response efforts. More than 392,000 customers are without power in the Carolinas and Virginia.

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The storm is expected to turn toward the north and lose speed later today, with maximum sustained wind speeds having decreased to near 35 miles (55 kilometers) per hour, the National Hurricane Center said as of 5 a.m. local time Saturday. Ian came ashore as a Category 1 hurricane just after 2 p.m. near Georgetown, South Carolina, with 85-mile per-hour winds, it said earlier.

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Florida, meanwhile, continues to reel under the impact. Almost 1.8 million homes and businesses remain without power, and Lee County, the hardest-hit area, has no running water. Homes, bridges and other infrastructure are in ruin, with damage estimates ranging from $68 billion to $100 billion. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said it will take years to recover.

Florida officials reported a death toll of 27 as of Friday night, according to the Associated Press. Three people were killed in Cuba. The death toll is set to climb in the next days and weeks, officials have warned.

US Death Toll Rises to 27, AP Says (5:08 a.m.)

The US death toll from Ian has risen to 27 as of Friday night, the AP reported, citing Florida’s Medical Examiners Commission. 

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Ian Expected to Turn North and Lose Speed, National Hurricane Center Says (5:00 a.m.)

Ian is expected to turn toward the north and lose speed later today, the National Hurricane Center said in its latest advisory issued at 5 a.m. Gusty winds are expected to continue across the central and southern Appalachians and the Mid-Atlantic coast, the advisory said. 

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The storm will likely dump two to four inches of rain on most parts of the area, reaching six inches in some places. Major river flooding will continue across central Florida through next week, it said.

Officials in One Florida County Delayed Evacuation Amid Dire Forecasts, NYT Says (3:53 a.m.)

Emergency officials in Lee County, Florida, only issued a mandatory evacuation order for the areas likely to be hit the most by Hurricane Ian on Tuesday, giving residents less time to evacuate, the New York Times reported.

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While much of the areas set to be affected had told their residents to flee on Monday, Lee County officials opted to wait to see how forecasts for the hurricane evolved overnight. At least 16 storm-related deaths have been identified in Lee County, the highest toll anywhere in the state, the newspaper said.

Biden Declares Emergency in North Carolina as Hurricane Hits (01:51 a.m.)

US President Joe Biden has declared an emergency in the state of North Carolina in the wake of Hurricane Ian, and ordered federal assistance to supplement response efforts, according to a statement released by the White House. 

Cuba Requests US Aid After Devastation, WSJ Says (7:38 p.m.)

Cuba’s government is seeking emergency assistance from the US in the aftermath of Ian’s devastation, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing email communications

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No exact amount was requested and the US is trying to determine if Cuba will supplement its request, the newspaper said. Havana is making the rare request as it contends with an economic crisis and while its longtime supporter Russia struggles with the war in Ukraine.   

Perdue Cancels Shift at South Carolina Poultry Plant (7 p.m.)

Poultry producer Perdue Farms canceled a shift Friday at a South Carolina plant and shut a Georgia distribution center as Hurricane Ian made a second landfall. 

Some production will be delayed until next week at the chicken plant in Dillon, South Carolina, with no loss in volume expected, according to Perdue spokeswoman Diana Souder. The Carolinas account for about 17% of American chicken production.

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Biggest Florida Utility Restores Power to 1.2 Million (7 p.m.)

Florida Power & Light Co., the state’s biggest utility, said it had restored power to 1.2 million homes and businesses as of 6 p.m. local time Friday. Still, another 850,000 customers lack power two days after Ian made landfall in the state.

Some parts of the NextEra Energy Inc. utility’s service territory still remains inaccessible due to high water or other damage, said Eric Silagy, FPL’s chief executive officer.

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“There are bridges that we cannot safely go across or no longer exist,” he said in a press conference late Friday. “So we are going to have to get equipment over to those areas using either boats or barges or wait in the high flood water areas for the water to recede.”

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South Carolina Oyster Suppliers Face Weeks of Delays (6:28 p.m.)

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said Friday it’s closing all shellfish harvesting beds across the state due to disruptions caused by Ian, leading to weeks of possible delays.

That means suppliers to local restaurants and distributors won’t be able to collect oysters until they get the all-clear from the state. The start of the 2022-2023 wild shellfish harvest season, which had been scheduled for Oct. 1, has been delayed.

Coastal Fuel Markets Close in Parts of South Carolina (5:24 p.m.)

With Ian lashing South Carolina, coastal fuel markets in Savannah, Charleston and elsewhere have shut down, preventing fuel trucks from loading and making deliveries, according to fuel distributor Mansfield Energy. That could limit fuel supplies in the region in the coming hours and even days.

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In Tampa, meanwhile, fuel terminals have re-opened, though lines are as long as 5-6 hours, Mansfield said in a note to customers. Hospitals, senior care centers and grocery stores are among the vital businesses in need of diesel to power their generators.

Florida Farmers Face Widespread Crop Destruction (4:24 p.m.)

Florida’s farmers and ranchers are facing “widespread destruction” of their crops from Hurricane Ian, according to the state’s farm bureau.

The region’s farmers are still assessing damage, but it has become clear that, in areas of Florida’s citrus belt, “there has been significant fruit dropped from the trees,” the Florida Farm Bureau said by email. “Fall vegetables once rooted are now lost.”

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Livestock and dairy farms have been “devastated,” the bureau said, and families in the region are facing weeks of rebuilding while still without power.

Kinder Morgan Fuel Terminal Remains Shut After Ian (3:19 p.m.)

Kinder Morgan Inc.’s fuel terminal in Orlando remains shut, but will have limited truck loading capacity by Friday evening and additional racks back online on Saturday, according to spokeswoman Melissa Ruiz. The company plans to restart its Central Florida Pipeline system, which moves fuel from Tampa to Orlando, on Saturday. 

Fuel terminals at Port Manatee, Port Sutton and Tampa are undergoing assessments and service could ramp up by late Friday or Saturday, Ruiz said. Kinder Morgan has shut its terminals in Charleston, South Carolina.

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Hospitals, senior living facilities, fire stations and grocery stores are among those waiting for diesel fuel deliveries to power generators, said Eliot Vancil, president of Fuel Logic. Businesses typically keep one to two days of supply on hand, so when generators are running, it is “critical to get to them daily,” Vancil told Bloomberg.

At Its Peak, Ian Left a Quarter of Florida in the Dark (2:35 p.m.)

Rarely does a hurricane trigger widespread power failures the way Ian has. At its peak, the storm bearing 150-mile-an-hour winds had knocked out power to 2.7 million homes and businesses across Florida, leaving 24% of the state in the dark, according to an analysis of power outage reports from the Florida Public Service Commission dating back five years. 

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For comparison, Hurricane Michael knocked out power to 4% in 2018. Other recent storms including Eta, Elsa, Fred and Isaias in 2020 and 2021 affected less than 1%. 

Some Florida Customers Face Extended Power Outages (2:07 p.m.)

Some customers may be in the dark for more than a month because Ian’s damage means parts of the grid will have to be rebuilt from the ground up, according to Lee County Electric Cooperative, which serves Florida’s hardest-hit country. 

The cooperative’s customers include some residents and businesses in counties that encompass Fort Myers and Sanibel Island — communities devastated by the Category-4 hurricane.

“While they rebuild homes and businesses, we will rebuild the infrastructure so that it is ready when they are able to receive power,” said Karen Ryan, a spokeswoman for the cooperative.

Ian Hit Florida at Key Time for Fruit, Vegetable Planting (12:59 p.m.)

Ian has hit a leading producer of fruits and vegetables in the US for the cooler fall and winter months, disrupting planting at a time when food inflation already is soaring.

Though the toll on Florida’s agriculture is still uncertain, many in the industry are facing power outages, widespread flooding and the inability to access fields, groves and packinghouses, said Christina Morton, director of communications for the state’s Fruit and Vegetable Association.

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