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Text-only updates of storm after Florida landfall

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The death toll was rising and residents desperately sought rescue Thursday as historically powerful Hurricane Ian, now a tropical storm, hammered Florida with heavy rain and strong winds, one of the strongest systems in U.S. history.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis described the storm as “500-year flooding event” and said Coast Guard helicopters were plucking trapped residents from the roofs of homes. Communities across the state were or will be swamped by the overwhelming waters, he said.  

“The impacts of this storm are historic and the damage that has been done is historic,” DeSantis said. “We’ve never seen a flood event like this, we’ve never seen a storm surge of this magnitude.”

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said on CNN that at least five deaths have been confirmed in his county. And a 72-year-old man in Deltona died after fallinnto a canal while using a hose to drain his pool in the heavy rain, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said.

More than 2.6 million Florida homes and business were without power early Thursday. 

Ian had weakened to a tropical storm but was forecast to continue roaring across the state most of the day before heading out into the Atlantic. The storm flooded entire communities, leaving residents stranded in their homes with battering 150-mph maximum sustained winds – just 7 mph shy of a Category 5 hurricane, the strongest on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane scale.

The storm previously tore into Cuba, killing two people and bringing down the country’s electrical grid.

Latest developments:

►The U.S. Coast Guard was still searching for more than 20 Cuban migrants after their boat sank in stormy weather near the Florida Keys.

► Ian’s strength at landfall tied it for the fifth-strongest hurricane when measured by wind speed to strike the U.S. It’s tied with five other hurricanes that reached 150 mph — two in Florida, two in Louisiana, and one in Texas.


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