Strong winds tore down trees, downed power lines and flooded streets, leaving more than 230,000 customers without power. Along the coast, some homes were submerged up to their roofs and buildings collapsed. Damaging winds shredded road signs and sent metal panels flying as the eye moved inland.

“We have multiple downed trees and debris on the road, don’t come over,” the Cedar Island Fire and Rescue Department said in a release, where tide gauges measured a storm surge of 6.8 feet (2 meters), flooding the downtown area. some areas. “There were propane tank explosions all over the island.”

Idalia landed at sparsely populated great bende, the Florida Panhandle curves into the peninsula. It made landfall near Keaton Beach at 7:45 a.m., a high-end Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 125 mph (205 km/h). A little over an hour later, it remained a Category 2 hurricane with top winds of 110 mph (175 mph) and was forecast to remain a hurricane as it moved through Florida and Georgia before treating the Carolinas as a tropical storm .

The hurricane turned the streets of Tampa into rivers and flooded the Florida capital, which was without power before the center of the storm reached. Tallahassee Mayor John Daly urged everyone to shelter in place — it was too late to risk going outside.Florida residents living in vulnerable coastal areas ordered to pack and leave Idalia Gain strength in warm sea water gulf of mexico.

“Don’t do anything stupid at this time and put your own life at risk,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a news conference Wednesday morning. “This thing is powerful. If you’re in it, squat down until it passes you.”

In some places, storm surges could be as high as 16 feet (4.9 meters).

“For those who choose to remain on the beach despite mandatory evacuation orders, please limit water and toilet use,” the city of Clearwater said in a statement. “Due to flooding, the city’s lift stations and stormwater systems are under pressure.”

Diane Flowers was sound asleep at her Wakulla County home at 1 a.m. Wednesday, but her husband was up to watch the weather forecast on TV and receive a Text message from my son. He is a Firefighter/First Responder in Franklin County, also on the Gulf Coast.

“He said, ‘You guys need to leave,'” Flowers said. “He’s not one to overreact, so when he told us to leave, we just packed up, got in the car and off we went.”

They quickly packed some clothes, medicine, dog food for two border collies, a computer, important documents and a bag of Cheetos. The motels were packed all the way to Alabama, and they finally found a room in Dothan.

The National Weather Service in Tallahassee called Idalia an “unprecedented event” because no major hurricane on record has passed the bay near Big Bend.Nation still grappling with lingering questions Last year’s damage from Hurricane Ianfearing catastrophic consequences.

But not everyone heeded the warnings.

Andy Bair, owner of the Cedar Key Island Inn, said he intended to “look after” his bed and breakfast, which predates the Civil War. In the nearly 20 years he’s owned the building, it’s never flooded, not even when Hurricane Hermione slammed the city in 2016.

“As the caretaker of the oldest building on Cedar Key, I just felt like I needed to be here,” Bell said. “We’ve proven time and time again that we don’t get washed away. We might feel a little sick for a few days, but we’ll be fine in the end.”

Idalia grew to a Category 2 system Tuesday afternoon and became a Category 3 system early Wednesday before strengthening to a Category 4 system before weakening slightly to a high-end Category 3 system.

Hurricanes are classified into five categories, with Category 5 being the strongest. A Category 3 storm is the first size to be considered a major hurricane, and the National Hurricane Center said Category 4 brought “Catastrophic damage“.

Tolls have been waived on highways leaving the danger zone and shelters have been opened. In the aftermath of the hurricane, more than 30,000 utility workers came together to make repairs as quickly as possible. About 5,500 National Guard soldiers were activated.

In Tarpon Springs, on Tampa’s northwest coast, 60 patients were evacuated from hospitals after warnings of a possible 7-foot (2.1-meter) storm surge.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster both declared states of emergency, releasing state resources and personnel, including hundreds of National Guard troops.

“We’re going to do our best to be as prepared as possible,” said Russell Gase of the truck in Valdosta, Georgia. His colleagues at the Cunningham Tree Service are doing the same. “There will be trees on people’s houses, there will be trees on power lines.”

Asked about the hurricane on Tuesday, President Joe Biden said he had spoken to DeSantis and “provided him with everything he might need.”

ian was in charge last year Nearly 150 people died. The Category 5 hurricane damaged 52,000 structures, nearly 20,000 of which were destroyed or severely damaged.

NOAA recently said The 2023 hurricane season will be busier than initially predicted, in part due to extremely warm ocean temperatures. The season runs until November 30th, with August and September usually being the peak months.


Associated Press writers Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Fla.; Mike Schneider in St. Louis, Missouri; Marcia Dunn, Cape Canaveral, Fla.; Curt Anderson, Orlando, Fla.; Chris O’Meara, Clearwater, Fla.; Christiana Mesquita in Havana; Russ Bynum (Russ Bynum), Savannah, Ga.; Jeffrey Collins, Columbia, S.C.; Seth Borenstein in Washington; Kathy McCormack , Concord, NH; Tara Kopp in Washington; Julie Walker in New York contributed to this report.


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