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Hurricane Ian barrels across Florida leaving destruction, flooding

Millions across the state face a night of wind, rain and storm surge along the coast
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Posted at 5:18 AM, Sep 28, 2022

Officials are beginning to assess the damage left by Hurricane Ian on Thursday, one day after the massive storm caused significant damage throughout Florida.

At its peak, Hurricane Ian had top winds of 155 mph, making it a very strong Category 4 storm. The ferocious winds knocked out power to over 2 million customers.

Now, South Carolina and Georgia are potentially going to see a damaging storm. The National Hurricane Center issued hurricane warnings for the entire South Carolina coast after Ian emerged in the Atlantic Ocean. Also, the entire Georgia coast and most of eastern North Carolina are under a tropical storm warning.

Ian came on shore around 3:05 p.m. ET Wednesday near Cayo Costa, Florida. Since then, Ian slowly marched across Florida, dumping heavy rain.

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno originally told ABC's "Good Morning America" that he confirmed "fatalities are in the hundreds" after Hurricane Ian struck, but the outlet later said he could not confirm any casualties.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said statewide, there were two fatalities, but it was unclear whether those deaths were because of the storm.

Earlier on Thursday, President Joe Biden declared nine Florida counties major federal disaster areas. DeSantis said he spoke with Biden and expects additional counties will be added.

Ian is no longer a hurricane as it weakened into a tropical storm on Thursday with top sustained winds of 70 mph, as of 11 a.m. Thursday.

The now tropical storm is expected to enter the Atlantic Ocean later today and make landfall along the South Carolina coast on Friday.

The storm’s main threat is flooding rains. A number of flash flood warnings are in effect in Central Florida, with some areas getting over 12 inches of rainfall.

Ian’s wind field has also grown as tropical-storm-force winds now extend over 400 miles from its center.