Tropical Storm Idalia threatens flooding in North Carolina after damaging thousands of Florida homes

Published: 3 weeks ago

Updated: 3 weeks ago

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Tropical Storm Idalia keeps pounding the Southeastas Atlantic coast, prompting flash flood warnings in North Carolina as parts of Floridas…

Tropical Storm Idalia continues to hit the Atlantic coast of the southeast and is causing flash flood warnings in North Carolina as part of Florida's west coast explores extensive damage from the strongest hurricane to hit the Big Bend region in more than a century.

Thousands of homes have been damaged in Florida — some with shattered walls and roofs, others with knee-high, turbid floodwaters that officials have warned could be dangerous for the coming days.

But while some deaths were reported, the destruction was not as great as when a Category 3 hurricane hit Florida before tearing south Georgia and South Carolina apart.

Some relied on advanced forecasting to ensure residents evacuated the right places ahead of time.

The National Hurricane Center released its first Idalia forecast Saturday as the storm was near Cozumel, Mexico, and predicted a landing 10 miles from where it would hit near Keaton Beach, Florida, five days later.

By then, at least 28 Florida counties had ordered evacuations.


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday, \We had a really significant storm surge in both Cedar Key and Steinhatchee, and clearly the storm surge there was enough to potentially be life-threatening if people didn't take the proper precautions, but I think most people did.\ And I think as a result, they probably really protected themselves and their families.

Still, dozens of people needed rescue, and hundreds of thousands of people, including some under boiling water orders, still have no power.

We did the whizzy saw on the side, and to be honest, while the effects could have been worse, we definitely got it on our chin,\ said Mike Carballa, an executive director of Pasco County, north of Tampa, who saw homes and streets flooded.

And some coastal communities far from the landfall zone are at risk of flooding Thursday morning.

The combination of storm surge and tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the coastline, the National Hurricane Center said, noting that the water could rise as high as 4 feet across North Carolina.

The National Weather Service said between 2 and 5 inches of rain fell in parts of southeastern North Carolina, including the Wilmington area, where a flash flood warning took effect early Thursday.

Parts of Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover and Pender counties were under warning.

Isolated tornadoes are also possible.

It's a life-changing event for some' The storm previously wreaked havoc in Florida's Big Bend region — between the panhandle and the peninsula — when it collapsed near Keaton Beach, ripping off roofs and flooding homes along a large stretch of the state's west coast as seawater pushed its feet ashore.

Many places — not necessarily the resources — to deal with such a powerful hurricane — said U.S.

Rep. Jared Moskowitz, who represents the South Florida region and leads the state's Emergency Management Division. \There are some communities that will never look the same, and others that will be rebuilt that will look a little different,\ he told CNN Wednesday night.

This is a life-changing event for some of these counties.\ Officials urged thousands to evacuate before the storm surge caused record-high water levels from Tampa Bay to Big Bend.

The storm also brought down power lines and flooded parts of Georgia and South Carolina, including Charleston.

In Charleston, the storm tore down trees and caused authorities to close flooded roads, police said.

The National Weather Service said the water also violated the sand dunes in Edisto Beach, South Carolina.


DeSantis said Wednesday that there were \no confirmed deaths\ in Florida following the storm.

Florida Highway Patrol Sergeant Steve Gaskins previously said two people died in separate crashes Wednesday morning in severe storm conditions, and both deaths were weather-related.

It's unclear whether DeSantis was referring to one of those accidents.

CNN asked for clarification.

Another death has been reported in Lowndes County, Georgia, where a man died after a tree fell on him while cutting down a tree on a highway, Sheriff Ashley Paulk told CNN.

Here are other developments from the storm as of early Thursday: • Flood rescues: First responders rescued about 150 residents from flooded neighborhoods in hard-hit Pasco County, north of Tampa, Florida.

Some areas saw water fluctuations of between 3 and 5 feet.

Thousands of homes damaged: In Pasco County, Florida alone, 4,000 to 6,000 homes were flooded, Carballa said. • Historic water levels: The National Weather Service said the waters off South Carolina's Port of Charleston rose to more than 9 feet, the fifth-highest level ever recorded.

Florida's Cedar Key, East Bay Tampa, Clearwater Beach and St.

Petersburg also experienced record storm surges.

Thousands in the dark: As of early Thursday, nearly 150,000 homes and businesses in Florida were without power.

Another 110,000 outages were reported in Georgia, while nearly 50,000 outages were reported in the Carolinas. • Residents urged to stay indoors: Florida officials are urging residents to avoid being outside while clean-up and search work continues.

Taylor County Sheriff Wayne Padgett spoke of the dangers of toppled trees and power lines. • Boiling water advisory: Some counties in DeSoto, Dixie, Leon, Levy, Marion and Taylor counties in Florida are under boiling water notices issued by the state's health department.

Some school districts will reopen: At least 30 of the 52 school districts that were closed before the storm will reopen on Thursday, DeSantis said.

Eight districts will reopen on Friday. • Over the Carolinas: The National Hurricane Center said the center of Idalia continued about 45 miles south-southwest of Wilmington, North Carolina, as of 5 a.m.

ET, with a maximum wind of 60 mph and is expected to move just off the coast of North Carolina on Thursday.

A tropical storm warning remains in effect for the South Santee River northward to the North Carolina-Virginia border, including Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds.

A storm surge hour applies from Beaufort Inlet to Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina, and to the Neuse and Pamlico rivers.

The storm surge is yet to come Idalia is expected to maintain its tropical storm status as it moves away from the East Coast on Thursday morning.

The hurricane center said heavy rainfall amounts over South and North Carolina will continue to cause flash, urban and moderate river flooding with significant impacts.

Meanwhile, central Florida could see another 1 to 2 inches of rain on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the storm surge, sparked by Idalia, set a record for the highest water level in several parts of Florida.

In Cedar Key, an island town about 80 miles north of Tampa, the storm surge reached 8.9 feet and surpassed the record 5.99 feet from Hurricane Hermine in 2016.

The storm surge in Tampa's East Bay was 5.7 feet on Wednesday, about 2 feet higher than the record seen from Tropical Storm Eta in 2020.

And at Clearwater Beach, the storm surge from Idalia reached 5.2 feet, ruling out 4.02 feet from the 1993 \Storm of the Century,\ which also snowed on much of the East Coast.


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