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Hurricane Ian Barrels Toward South Carolina, Leaving Destruction in Its Wake

After pummeling Florida, Hurricane Ian has its sights set on South Carolina. The death toll from Ian, which made landfall as a category four hurricane in Florida, has now risen to 21. Authorities still have to confirm that the deaths were related to the storm.

Ian downgraded to a tropical storm before strengthening into a category one hurricane on its trajectory toward South Carolina. Meteorologists expect Ian to make landfall again in South Carolina today before moving northeast toward North Carolina and Southwestern Virginia Friday night through Saturday morning. It will be the first hurricane to hit South Carolina since Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

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Florida is still assessing the damage of Hurricane Ian, mostly from flooding. Early estimates say that the damage could cost up to $40 billion. Florida’s former emergency management chief told NYTimes, “Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island look like they will need to be 80% rebuilt.” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said it would be a yearslong recovery.

President Joe Biden said it could prove to be the deadliest hurricane in Florida’s history. Over two and a half million residents who were in the hurricane’s path are without power. Many are left with uninhabitable homes or do not have access to water, such as in Lee County, where a water main line broke.

“My message to the people of Florida and to the country in times like this: America comes together. We’re gonna pull together as one team, as one America. First thing this morning as I talked to Gov. DeSantis and again offered the fullest federal support.”

Kevin Guthrie, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, said that Floridians affected by Ian need to rely on their own supplies for food and water for the next day or so. The government advises residents to save enough food and water for seven days before a significant storm. From days 3 to 5 after the storm, the National Guard and local community distribution will serve water and dry food. Hot food distribution will follow shortly after.

Governor DeSantis said 700 rescues had been conducted so far by air. Before the storm hit, the state government asked residents planning to shelter in place to fill out a survey to allow officials to have demographic information.

“Some of the damage was almost indescribable. I would say the most significant damage that I saw was on Fort Myers Beach. Some of the homes were wiped out, some of it was just concrete slabs.”

In 2013, during his time in the House of Representatives, DeSantis was against federal aid for the New York region after the damage of Hurricane Sandy. Now, he is asking for governmental assistance to help his state. He told Tucker Carlson, “when people are fighting for their lives, when their whole livelihood is at stake, when they’ve lost everything — if you can’t put politics aside for that, then you’re just not going to be able to.”

At the time, DeSantis and Ted Yoho were the only House members to oppose the assistance package for Hurricane Sandy.

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President Biden said that the government would provide uninsured people in Florida an assistance of $37,900 for home repairs and another $37,900 for property loss. In Thursday’s speech, President Biden thanked the Federal Emergency Management Agency for their prompt response.

“I’ve seen you in action all across the country from the West Coast of the Northwest and the Northeast, down in Louisiana, all across this country. And just in the last two weeks, you’ve been working 24/7. No matter what, when emergencies happen, FEMA is always there. You deserve the nation’s gratitude and full support.”

South Carolina is already feeling the effects of Hurricane Ian, with 10,000 residents without power. In anticipation of Ian’s arrival, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia declared a state of emergency. The National Weather Service says Hurricane Ian will likely not strengthen beyond a category one hurricane as it approaches South Carolina, sustaining wind speeds of 85 mph.

More Than 18,000 Evacuated In Australia Due To ‘Life-Threatening’ Floods 

More than 18,000 Australian residents have been evacuated in New South Wales (NSW) due to heavy rains and major flooding in the area which is causing some areas of the nation to resemble “island seas,” according to residents. 

The heavy rains have been impacting NSW since last Thursday but the flooding got really severe over the weekend. Images began circulating online of full roads, trees, and houses, completely submerged in water. Up to 38 areas across the state are considered to be natural disaster areas currently and 19 evacuation orders have been issued so far, according to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian who spoke at a news conference this morning. 

According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, “much of the flooding has hit the mid-north coast, from Hunter Valley near Sydney to Coffs Harbour, but severe weather warnings have also been extended to include districts on the state’s south coast for Tuesday as the rains are forecast to shift. Heavy rainfall is also developing inland in the north of the state Monday, while in the east, life-threatening extensive flooding and heavy rain continues.”

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A severe weather warning has also been issued for Queensland which neighbors NSW.  According to Premier Berejiklian, the homes that were devastated by the 2019/2020 wildfires now have to cope with extreme flooding conditions.

“Communities who were battered by the bushfires are now being battered by the floods and a deep drought prior to that. I don’t know anytime in our state’s history where we’ve had these extreme weather conditions in such quick succession in the middle of a pandemic. You’ve been through three or four incidents which are life changing on top of each other. It can make you feel like you are at breaking point.”

Some places have seen close to 40 inches of rain in less than a week, and increased rainfall of about 2-4 inches is expected to hit Sydney this whole week. The worst-affected areas so far have seen rainfall that has been up to five times as strong as what the nation normally expects for this time of year. 

Bureau of Meteorology’s Jane Golding said in a news conference that “the huge rainfalls have been driven by two weather systems colliding. A slow moving coastal trough and the approach of another system coming through from the west is pumping down tropical moisture into the state, which is then being whipped up by strong easterly winds.”

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“With this approach of this new system coming from the west which is approaching today, we’re expecting this heavy rain to fall in areas that haven’t seen as much rain over the last few days, and we’re expecting the flood risk to develop in those areas as well,” she explained. 

Justin Robinson is the Bureau of Meteorology’s national flood manager, who recently spoke to the press about his extensive amount of experience with flooding in Australia. 

“I’ve been a flood forecaster for 20 years and this is probably the worst flooding I’ve ever seen. We’ve got a flood watch that covers all the way from the Queensland border down to the Victoria border, along all those coastal rivers.”

The NSW emergency service networks have said many of the areas across the state “resemble an island sea,” and they’re already preparing for the massive clean up effort that will need to be done once all the rain finally subsides. Premier Berejiklian claimed she has spoken with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison about calling in the military for backup when it comes time to clean and recover.