The storm was downgraded to a tropical storm Thursday morning, but is expected to become a hurricane again Thursday evening. NWS reported Thursday morning the storm, which first made landfall on Florida’s Gulf coast, had emerged in the western Atlantic.
Ian made landfall in Florida Wednesday as one of the strongest hurricanes to hit the country, with top winds of 150 mph, according to the Associated Press. It was just shy of a Category 5 — the most dangerous one.
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The hurricane made landfall shortly after 3 p.m. Wednesday near Cayo Costa, Florida, just west of Fort Myers, according to the National Hurricane Center.
More than two million people were without power in Florida Thursday morning, according to AP. Utility trucks and supplies headed down Interstate 75 toward southwest Florida to provide relief. AES Ohio left Wednesday to help with relief efforts from the storm.
Rescue boats made their way over flooded streets after thousands of Floridians were trapped Thursday, AP reported. Images showed a section of destroyed businesses in Fort Myers Beach Florida, with boats and vehicles laying among the rubble.
At least one death has been confirmed — a 72-year-old man in Deltona who fell into a canal, according to AP.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for the entire state earlier this week and President Joe Biden directed federal agencies to pull all available resources in the region to prepare for the impact of Hurricane Ian and to support response and recovery efforts. Biden also approved an emergency declaration earlier this week after receiving the request from DeSantis.
“This is going to be a nasty nasty day, two days,” DeSantis said, urging people in Ian’s path along the Atlantic coast to rush to the safest possible shelter and stay there.
Wednesday there were 1,300 federal response workers in Florida to help with emergency preparations, according to the White House. Fuel, propane, generators, and meals have been staged across the region as well.
Ohio Task Force 1 was activated Saturday and left Sunday morning for Alabama ahead of the storm. Crews announced Wednesday they were headed to Florida to get closer to the area expected to need relief. The convoy included 14 semis, trucks, buses, boats and trailers. An additional 35 OH-TF1 members were mobilized Thursday morning to respond.
The Butler County Emergency Management Agency deployed Tuesday along with police and fire crews from Englewood, Hamilton, Monroe and Oxford, plus Liberty, Oxford, Ross, Wayne and West Chester townships to help coordinate rescue missions. EMA Director Matt Haverkos said the team will be based Wednesday at the Orange County Convention Center and then will be directed to where they are needed.
The U.S. Air Force moved aircraft from Florida to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to get them out of harm’s way.