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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Back out to sea, storm leaves long trail of damage


A destroyed home after Hurricane Idalia in Cedar Key, Fla., Aug. 31, 2023. Initial reports suggested that the former hurricane was not as destructive as had been feared. The police linked two deaths in Florida to the storm, although the toll was still being assessed.

By The New York Times


President Joe Biden said he will visit the Gulf Coast on Saturday to see the damage from Hurricane Idalia, which left flooding and power outages across Florida’s Big Bend region. The storm’s remnants swept back out to sea Thursday on a path toward Bermuda, but its tail end continued to dump heavy rain on the North Carolina coast.


The storm left behind downed trees, power outages and hazardous roads on a roughly 700-mile path from the Gulf Coast to the Outer Banks. Florida took the worst hit, though state officials said the structural damage appeared minor compared with other recent disasters, including Hurricane Ian, which devastated the state’s Gulf coastline farther south last year.


Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida said in a Thursday morning news conference that there were no deaths confirmed in his state from the storm, which hit as a Category 3 hurricane early Wednesday, in his state, though the Florida Highway Patrol previously reported two weather-related car crashes that resulted in fatalities. Georgia officials said one person died when a tree fell on a car during the storm.


The National Hurricane Center said Idalia was losing its tropical characteristics Thursday afternoon, beginning to transition into a normal storm. But there was a possibility it could restrengthen over the Atlantic before reaching Bermuda this weekend.


Here’s what to know:


— As of 2 p.m. Eastern time, the center of the storm was about 120 miles southeast of Cape Lookout, North Carolina. Its maximum sustained winds were at 65 mph, after reaching as high as 130 mph — making it briefly a Category 4 storm — in the hours before landfall early Wednesday.


— Some waterfront areas in Georgia and the Carolinas, where Idalia combined with a high tide and a supermoon to produce heavy flooding overnight, said they had been spared significant damage. In Edisto Beach, South Carolina, the fire chief said there was “zero to minimal damage” after waves had breached sand dunes between the ocean and homes.


— About 200,000 customers in Florida and Georgia remained without power Thursday afternoon, according to PowerOutage.us, which tracks outages across the United States. Power appeared to have been restored to all but about 11,000 customers in the Carolinas by 2 p.m.


— Biden signed a major disaster declaration to provide aid to places in Florida hit hard by the storm and called on Congress to approve an additional $12 billion for U.S. disaster relief after Idalia and the devastating wildfire in Hawaii. “We need this disaster relief request met, and we need to do it in September,” he said. “We can’t wait.”


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