Hurricane Idalia: Tornado FLIPS car in South Carolina as storm barrels through Georgia: DeSantis warns Florida that looters will be SHOT
A tornado that swept through South Carolina in the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia toppled a car on Wednesday, as those living in the storm’s path began assessing the damage — and Florida’s governor warned looters would be shot.
The black sedan was driving through torrential rain shortly after 2:30 p.m. near Goose Creek, on the outskirts of Charleston, when a tornado lifted the car’s two rear wheels and sent it spinning on its hood.
The front two wheels were then lifted by the wind and the car was carried into the air, crashing roof-on to the ground, on top of another car.
The two people in the car suffered minor injuries and were taken to a local hospital for treatment, police said, according to WCBD News.
Two people are known to have died so far in the storm, in car accidents early Wednesday that were blamed on weather conditions: one in Gainesville, Florida, and one in Pasco County, north of Tampa.
By 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Hurricane Idalia, which hit Category 3 Florida south of Tallahassee just before 8 a.m., was downgraded to a tropical storm.
Pictured, the sedan is lifted off its wheels on Wednesday afternoon and spun on the hood – the two people inside escaped with only minor injuries
The car is pictured on its side after it was lifted into the air and slammed to the ground in South Carolina on Wednesday
The eye of the storm was on the Georgia/South Carolina border and was moving northeastward at 33 km/hr, with maximum winds of 120 km/hr.
Residents of coastal areas of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas were warned of possible storm surges.
Hilton Head Island emergency manager Tom Dunn said as much as six inches of rain combined with a potential five-foot storm surge could flood parts of the island, like when Hurricane Irma passed by after hitting Florida in 2017.
The sheriff of Taylor County, where the landfall took place, said Wednesday night that there have been no reports of deaths or serious injuries so far, despite winds reaching 125 mph.
But Wayne Padgett added that that could change once the small towns along the beach are searched.
Much of Cedar Key, an island home to 700 people in the eye of the storm, was likely underwater.
“We’ve had several trees down, debris on the roads — don’t come,” the Cedar Key Fire and Rescue Department said in a social media post.
That area was hit by one of the largest storm surges.
According to the department post, most streets around the downtown area were flooded.
Idalia was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm at 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said Wednesday afternoon that looters should think twice
An oak tree was downed during the storm and crashed into the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee, but no one was injured
Tampa was hit hard: The Pasco County sheriff’s office, north of Tampa, said its employees helped evacuate more than 60 people from flooded homes.
Pasco County administrator Mike Carballa told CNN that up to 6,000 homes in his area were damaged.
“The storm surge really flooded a lot of houses. So we estimate that between the (four and six thousand) houses in our province along our coastline there is one meter to one and a half meters of water,” he said.
The path of destruction was rather narrow, but strong enough to destroy telephone poles, fallen trees and houses.
Florida officials said there are nearly 1,000 bridges that need to be inspected for storm damage.
Ron DeSantis said he would have little sympathy for anyone caught abusing the chaos, with 217,000 people out of power in his state. In neighboring Georgia, 225,000 people were without power.
“We have directed all state-level personnel to protect people’s property, and we will not tolerate any looting in the aftermath of a natural disaster,” DeSantis said Wednesday afternoon in Perry, Florida.
The town of 7,000 is the county seat of Taylor County, where the landfall occurred.
“It’s just ridiculous for you to try to do something like this in the wake of a near Category 4 hurricane hitting this community.”
“I also want to remind would-be looters that you never know where you’re going. People have the right to defend their property.
“In this part of Florida, you have a lot of Second Amendment advocates and advocates, and I’ve seen signs in several people’s yards in the aftermath of these disasters, and I’d probably say here, you loot, we shoot.”
He said residents of the area would “defend themselves and their families.”
‘So I wouldn’t; At the very least, we’re going to hold you accountable from a law enforcement perspective, and it could be even worse depending on what’s behind that door.”
President Biden called DeSantis Wednesday afternoon and then called the governors of Georgia, North and South Carolina.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp was at the State Operations Center on Wednesday, and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster warned people to stay off the road.
Deanne Criswell, the FEMA executive, said: “The president reiterated that if anything is needed from the federal government, we will be able to support. We currently employ over 1,000 personnel, who are ready to support not only Florida, but all of our states on the move if needed.”
Biden later told a news conference that the strength of the storm was further evidence of climate change.
Scientists such as meteorologist and hurricane expert Jeff Masters of Yale Climate Connections said there is a direct correlation between the extra heat in the atmosphere, higher wind speeds and how much damage the storm could do.
Recent research has suggested that for every degree Celsius that ocean temperatures rise, hurricane wind speeds could increase by as much as four to five percent, CNN reported — which in turn could amplify the storm’s destructive potential by 40 to 50 percent.
“I don’t think anyone can deny the impact of the climate crisis right now,” the president said.
But Biden said politics were not discussed during his phone call with DeSantis, a Republican candidate for president.
“I know that sounds strange given the nature of politics today,” he added.
Kevin Guthrie, the state’s director of emergency management, said Wednesday evening search and rescue operations continued and about 70 percent of the worst-hit area had been searched.
But he said it appeared people had heeded evacuation warnings.
“We are not finding anyone at home,” he said, adding that they had not received any reports of drownings or deaths from flooding.