About 1.7 million remain without power in Ian’s path; storm treks through North Carolina: Live updates

Hurricane Ian’s U.S. death toll rose to 27 as the storm, now a post-tropical cyclone, churned northward Saturday across central North Carolina after hammering the coast of South Carolina and devastating swaths of Florida.

Power was knocked out for over 300,000 customers in North Carolina and almost 100,000 in Virginia as of Saturday morning, according to poweroutage.us.

In South Carolina, almost 60,000 people were still without power after Ian toppled trees and flooded roadways.

Meanwhile, over 1.2 million people remained without power in Florida as officials assessed the damage and continued search and rescue efforts. The storm left a broad trail of destruction in the state, flooding areas on both of its coasts, tearing homes from their slabs and demolishing beachfront businesses.

President Joe Biden said Friday that Hurricane Ian is “likely to rank among the worst in the nation’s history” and Florida will take “months – years – to rebuild.”

GET TEXT UPDATES:Sign up here for text updates on Ian.

Latest developments:

►In South Carolina near Myrtle Beach, the end of the Pawleys Island pier collapsed and was floating as Ian made landfall, according to a Twitter post from the Pawleys Island Police Department.

► Florida’s Volusia County Community Information Director Kevin Captain said at a news conference Friday afternoon that the Daytona International Speedway was flooded by Hurricane Ian. “Even our iconic speedway is underwater,” he said.

Heavy rain hits central Appalachians, mid-Atlantic

Heavy rains were forecast Saturday morning for the central Appalachians and mid-Atlantic as Ian trekked across central North Carolina and toward Virginia, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm is expected to weaken and dissipate over south-central Virginia by Saturday night.

But until then, Ian will bring gusty winds and drop 2 to 4 inches of rain with local maximums of 6 inches onto the central Appalachians and coastal mid-Atlantic, which may see limited flash and urban flooding.

Major river flooding is expected in parts of central Florida into next week, but swells seen in the Southeast should subside over the weekend.

‘BABY, IT’S TIME TO GO’:First-time Florida mom gives birth in midst of Ian’s wrath

As Hurricane Ian moves near Charleston's coastline area; winds are starting to pick up in the downtown area of the city in the area called 'The Market' near the water front on Sept. 30. The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge near downtown Charleston as Ian moves into the area. Sam Weinick, 23, and Seth Ensley decided to walk out and take a look at the water area in downtown Charleston Friday morning.

Death toll likely to grow in Florida 

The destruction left behind by Ian has made it difficult to quickly know how many had perished in the storm, but the death count has climbed to 27, the Associated Press said Friday night.

On Friday morning, Florida Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie said there were as many as 21 deaths, but only one had been confirmed as the result of the storm, while officials were evaluating 20 other deaths.

Among the newly reported deaths were a 62-year-old woman who was injured and drowned after a tree fell on a mobile home, a 54-year-old man found trapped in a window after drowning and a woman tangled in wires in Florida’s Lee County.

Before hitting Florida, Ian also swept through Cuba earlier this week, killing three people.

Post-Tropical Cyclone Ian tracker 

After slowly moving across Florida, Ian gained new strength over the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday before wreaking havoc on South Carolina, Georgia and more states along the East Coast. 

It weakened to a post-tropical cyclone Friday afternoon, and by 5 a.m. Saturday, it was located 30 miles south of Greensboro, North Carolina, and was moving north at 12 mph with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph, the hurricane center said.

Check here for the latest updates on the storm’s strength and track where it’s headed next.     

Floridians escape Ian:They found refuge – and slot machines at a casino

Flooding expected but still ‘heartbreaking’

As Ian drenched some areas with up to 17 inches of rain, floodwaters spilled out of scenic lakes, ponds and rivers and into homes, forcing emergency evacuations and rescues.

Researchers who study flooding, development and climate change were horrified by the emerging images but not surprised. For years, they’ve warned sprawling development in Florida and other coastal states isn’t sustainable, especially with the warming climate supercharging hurricane rainfall.

“This is kind of what we had expected for days in advance, and it’s still heartbreaking to see so many people stranded,” said Kevin Reed, associate professor in atmospheric science at Stony Brook University in New York.

He and other experts said they expect Ian’s devastation to lead to a push for Florida to do more to protect residents from future flooding as the warming climate makes natural disasters and rainfall more extreme.

— Dinah Voyles Pulver, USA TODAY

Contributing: John Bacon, Thao Nguyen, Jorge Ortiz, Doyle Rice, Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

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