One affected by the passage of Hurricane Idalia, Jewell Bagget, in front of the ruins of the house built by her grandfather in Horseshoe Beach, Florida (USA). CHENEY ORR (REUTERS)
Florida has begun to evaluate the damage left by the passage of Hurricane Idalia, which has left significant damage in the coastal areas of the State and which this Thursday, now converted into a tropical storm, threatened to cause dangerous flooding in low-lying areas or near rivers in eastern South and North Carolina. The President of the United States, Joe Biden, who has declared a disaster area in Florida, plans to visit the State next Saturday.
The storm, which made landfall on Wednesday on the northwest coast of Florida as a Category 3 hurricane with winds of more than 200 kilometers per hour, is now generating strong winds and torrential rains that can leave up to 23 centimeters of water in some parts of the coast. of the Carolinas before continuing on its northeasterly course toward the Atlantic Ocean, according to the US National Weather Service. This organization warns of the possibility of water level rises in some seaside locations.
“Driving vehicles can be dangerous,” warned the Service. “Extreme levels of rainfall can result in flash flooding and in urban areas, which may necessitate rescues.” On Thursday morning, the storm, which still generates winds of around one hundred kilometers per hour, was 70 kilometers from the city of Wilmington, North Carolina.
In Florida, authorities have indicated that it will take days to determine the full extent of the damage. At the moment, the traffic police point out that two deaths in a vehicle accident can be attributed to the hurricane, and the State Governor, Ron DeSantis, has indicated that a third could be added in another collision.
The damage, however, appears much less than that caused in 2022 by Hurricane Ian, which claimed the lives of nearly 150 people and destroyed nearly 20,000 buildings. The area where the hurricane made landfall is one of the last great natural spaces in Florida and is sparsely populated. Even so, the investment bank UBS has preliminarily pointed out in a note that insured losses will reach around $9.36 billion.
“There has certainly been damage to coastal communities,” said Deanne Criswell, the administrator of the US disaster management agency (FEMA), in statements to the MSNBC television network. The senior official is in Florida to examine the results of the storm’s passage with DeSantis.
Join EL PAÍS to follow all the news and read without limits.
The rising tide in the coastal areas due to the winds and rain carried by Idalia carried the sea water kilometers inland, leaving roads and streets flooded. According to Criswell, the rise in sea level could be close to the forecast of 4.5 meters in some points, in the absence of a precise measurement in the coming days.
The senior official considered the low number of fatalities to be good news, which she interpreted as a sign that residents obeyed the mandatory evacuation orders imposed in coastal areas.
In St. Petersburg, a beach town on Florida’s central coast, dozens of people had to be rescued by boat. Similar scenes were also recorded in southern Georgia. This Thursday, more than 315,000 homes were still without power in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.
Idalia, still in the form of a tropical storm, had caused significant damage in the tobacco province of Pinar del Río, in Cuba. As it crossed the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, it gradually gained strength until it became a category 4 cyclone, with winds exceeding 215 kilometers per hour, and threatened with a “catastrophic” water rise. Shortly before making landfall, it lost strength to become a category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, out of a maximum of five.
Biden visited FEMA headquarters in Washington this Thursday to receive updates on assistance operations in the affected states. In statements to the press, she indicated that she has spoken by phone for the third consecutive day with Governor DeSantis, also a Republican candidate for the White House in next year’s elections. “We spoke again this morning; It seems like we should have a direct line between the two of us, the governor and me. We spoke this morning, I informed her that I approved the disaster declaration for Florida, she said.
Subscribe here to the EL PAÍS America newsletter and receive all the latest news from the region
#Florida #evaluates #damage #left #Idalia