Hurricane Ian wreaked havoc on southwest Florida — trapping residents in flooded homes, damaging at least one hospital, and leaving over two million without power before it was downgraded to a tropical storm at 5 a.m. EDT on Thursday.
Ian made landfall over the Sunshine State as a category 4 storm with winds of up to 150 miles per hour — making it one of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit the country.
It left a path of destruction throughout the Gulf Coast, flooding neighborhoods, homes and buildings with its storm surge and heavy rains.
An emergency room inside ER of HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital in Port Charlotte was inundated with water as powerful winds tore through the facility’s roof — exposing its intensive care unit to the dangerous elements, according to a doctor at the hospital.
Water poured down onto the ICU as staffers rushed the hospital’s sickest patients — some of whom were on ventilators — to other floors, according to Dr. Birgit Bodine.
“As long as our patients do OK and nobody ends up dying or having a bad outcome, that’s what matters,” Bodine told the Associated Press.
Nearby, calls of people trapped inside their flooded houses overwhelmed local police departments.
Residents posted pleas to social media sites alongside videos of rising water gushing towards their homes as Ian transformed roadways into rivers.
Here’s everything to know about Hurricane Ian:
One woman’s North Fort Myers house was swamped by 5 feet of water, according to her out-of-state daughter, Pittsburgh journalist Brittany Hailer.
“We don’t know when the water’s going to go down. We don’t know how they’re going to leave, their cars are totaled,” Hailer said. “Her only way out is on a boat.”
Ian toppled trees and powerlines causing two million Florida homes and businesses to lose electricity, according to the PowerOutage.us site.
While the hurricane dropped to a category 1 with winds of 90 miles per hour, its path of destruction is far from over, experts said.
Storm surges as high as 6 feet are expected to batter northeast Florida on Thursday, with a high possibility of catastrophic flooding and dangerous winds.
Ian is barreling towards the Atlantic Ocean, where it is believed to continue north up the coast.
No deaths have been reported in the US as of Wednesday night.