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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Powerful storm sweeps into Georgia as Florida assesses the damage

Flooding at the Low Key Hideaway Resort along State Road 24 in Cedar Key, Fla., Aug. 30, 2023. Idalia, now a Category 1 storm, brought destructive winds and life-threatening storm surges before moving inland. Communities as far as North Carolina were threatened.

By Patricia Mazzei and Judson Jones

Hurricane Idalia dumped a long trough of heavy rain across parts of the Southeast on Wednesday, from the Gulf Coast of Florida to the shoreline of Georgia and the Carolinas, where Savannah and Charleston both faced the threat of high water overnight.

Rescuers pulled scores of people from flooded homes north of Tampa, as downed trees blocked roadways and hundreds of thousands of people were without power. On Florida’s low-lying Big Bend coast, where the storm made landfall just after sunrise, residents who had chosen not to evacuate described a harrowing night of water rising into their homes.

Idalia was downgraded to a tropical storm by 5 p.m. after its march across southern Georgia. It had briefly reached Category 4 hurricane strength in the hours before landfall, with a peak of 130 mph winds. But forecasters warned that even as a tropical storm, Idalia could still produce strong winds across portions of Georgia and southern South Carolina on Wednesday night.

Idalia made landfall at 7:45 a.m. in Taylor County, about 90 miles southeast of the Florida capital of Tallahassee, before moving inland over parts of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. Officials in those states issued emergency declarations warning of heavy rain and flooding.

Two deaths from car crashes early Wednesday were attributed to the weather conditions, one in Gainesville and one in Pasco County, north of Tampa.

Nearly half a million customers in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina were without power by Wednesday afternoon, according to, which tracks outages across the United States.

More than 900 flights at airports in Florida and Georgia were delayed or canceled Wednesday, according to FlightAware, a flight tracking service.

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