(Bloomberg) -- Florida's hurricane damage is "likely to rank among the worst" in US history, President Joe Biden tweeted on Saturday, as Ian weakened to a post-tropical cyclone moving north toward Virginia. At least 31 people died, including 27 in Florida, the Associated Press reported.
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The storm was downgraded after pummeling South Carolina on Friday with violent winds and a storm surge, knocking out power to tens of thousands. Maximum sustained winds slowed to 25 miles per hour (40 kph) as Ian moved further north, with 1-3 inches of rain expected, the National Weather Service said in an update.
Ian came ashore as a Category 1 hurricane just after 2 p.m. Friday near Georgetown, South Carolina, with 85-mile per-hour winds. Biden declared an emergency in North Carolina overnight.
In Florida, 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. Heavy flooding is expected in central Florida over the next week.
Ian Weakens as It Moves North (12:15 a.m.)
Post-tropical cyclone Ian continued to weaken midday Saturday as it moved north through North Carolina and toward Virginia, according to a National Weather Service update at 11 a.m.
Maximum sustained winds slowed to to 25 mph (40 kph), the service reported. Another 1-3 inches or rain was expected to fall across the central Appalachians and mid-Atlantic, "with local heavier amounts possible."
Across central Florida, "major to record river flooding" is expected over the next week.
Biden Calls Storm Damage 'Among Worst' Ever in US (10:41 a.m.)
President Joe Biden said the damage from storm Ian "is likely to rank among the worst" in US history.
Few Florida Homes Covered for Flooding (9:12 a.m.)
A majority of Florida homeowners caught in the hurricane's path now face rebuilding without the benefit of flood insurance -- and some might not even realize they're uncovered.
Only 18% of all Florida homes -- of which there more than 10 million, per census data -- have flood insurance, according to the Insurance Information Institute. And some property owners harbor the misconception that policies protecting against damage from wind and rain will also apply to losses brought on by rising water.
Officials in Florida County Delayed Evacuation, 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.
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 (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
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.
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.
"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."
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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