World August 31, 2023 | 8:09 am

Flooded streets and power outages: Florida faces the aftermath of Idalia

Florida.- The aftermath of Hurricane Idalia’s passage through northwestern Florida is marked by a trail of destruction. The hurricane, now downgraded to a storm, has brought about historic flooding, road closures, and the destruction of homes. Currently, over 260,000 houses and buildings are without power in the state. Idalia, with winds of 125 miles per hour (205 kilometers per hour), is the most potent hurricane to hit the “Big Bend” region of Florida in the past 125 years, surpassing a cyclone in 1896 with equivalent power.

Notably, in Cedar Key, north of Tampa Bay, the storm surge reached 8 feet (2.4 meters) above normal levels, setting a new record for this area that even exceeded the surge produced by Hurricane Hermine in 2016. The hurricane has indirectly caused two fatalities due to traffic accidents amid extreme weather conditions.

The governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, mentioned that more than 250,000 homes are without electricity. In the town of St. Petersburg, approximately 75 people had to be rescued by boat due to the floods. Mayor Ken Welch reported storm surges of up to 4 feet (1.2 meters) in some areas, with images showing people using canoes and kayaks to navigate through flooded intersections.

Hernando County experienced severe impact as well, with a family of four needing airboat transportation after being unable to evacuate in time. The city of Tallahassee also witnessed damage, including a century-old oak tree falling on the governor’s mansion due to hurricane winds.

While Idalia has lost some intensity since making landfall, it remains a dangerous tropical storm as it moves through the southeastern United States, bringing threats of life-threatening storm surges, damaging winds, tornadoes, and heavy rainfall.

Despite the destruction, airports in Idalia’s path have begun reopening after temporary closures. President Joe Biden called the governors of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina to express federal support for recovery efforts. The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is expected to visit Florida to assess the damage firsthand.

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