A resurgent Hurricane Ian barreled north on Friday toward a second landfall in South Carolina, a day after carving a path of destruction across central Florida that left rescue crews racing to reach trapped residents along the state’s Gulf Coast.
Ian, which had weakened to a tropical storm during its march across Florida, regained Category 1 hurricane strength on Thursday afternoon while churning toward South Carolina above the Atlantic Ocean, with maximum sustained wind speeds of 75 mph (120 kph), the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
The hurricane was forecast to hit near low-lying Charleston, South Carolina, about 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT) on Friday, bringing potentially life-threatening flooding, storm surges and winds. Hundreds of miles of coastline, stretching from Georgia to North Carolina, was under a hurricane warning.
The extent of the damage in Florida, where Ian first came ashore on Wednesday as one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the US mainland, became more apparent on Thursday as emergency crews began reaching stranded residents, though the death toll remained uncertain.
NBC News reported at least 10 people had died, while CNN put the toll at 17 as of Thursday evening.
At an evening news briefing, Governor Ron DeSantis acknowledged some people had perished but declined to confirm a specific figure, warning that official confirmation was still needed.
“We fully expect to have mortality from this hurricane,” he said.
Some of the damage to coastal towns, including Fort Myers Beach, was “indescribable,” added DeSantis, who surveyed the affected areas from the air on Thursday.