By Caden Pearson
More than 2 million are without power Wednesday night as a weakened Hurricane Ian batters the Florida Peninsula after making landfall hours earlier over the state’s west coast as a Category 4.
As of 11 p.m. local time, Ian decreased to a Category 1 system with top sustained wind speeds of 90 mph, continuing to cause storm surges, wind, and flooding as it moves north-northeast at around 8 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The system is expected to move across central Florida overnight and Thursday morning and emerge over the western Atlantic at near-hurricane strength by late Thursday, before approaching the northeastern Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina coasts.
According to PowerOutage.us, there are more than 2 million reported outages as of 11 p.m. Duke Energy, Florida Power and Light Company, and Tampa Electric also reported significant outages.
The Weather Channel said that over 2 million customers without power “is a major safety concern,” noting that Ian was “only halfway across the peninsula.”
He said that over 42,000 linemen had been called up and were staged to help restore power to affected areas across the state.
Linemen Standing By
Duke Energy said it has been closely monitoring the system and preparing for potential impacts as it moves toward the Carolinas in the coming days.
“Supporting our communities is our top priority and we have thousands of Duke Energy crew members and contractors ready to respond should outages occur,” Jason Hollifield, Duke Energy’s Carolinas storm director, said in a statement.
In addition to 42,000 utility crew members ready to restore power, Florida has fleets of highwater vehicles to assist residents, 7,000 National Guardsmen, and 179 aircraft prepared to help.
DeSantis said people can support Floridians with rebuilding by contributing to a disaster fund at FloridaDisasterFund.org or by texting “Disaster” to 20222.
The governor also urged caution when going outside in the wake of the hurricane downing power lines.
“After Hurricane Ian passes, be careful going outside. Make sure to avoid downed power lines, avoid standing water, stay clear of trees, do not drive in standing water, and keep generators 20 feet outside of your home,” DeSantis said on Twitter.