Georgia governor Brian Kemp has issued a state of emergency for the state that is set to last until 11.59pm on 8 September.
“We are taking every precaution ahead of Hurricane Idalia’s landfall tomorrow, and I am taking this additional executive action to ensure state assets are ready to respond,” Kemp said on Tuesday ahead of Idalia.
“Georgians in the expected impact area can and should take necessary steps to ensure their safety and that of their families. We are well positioned to respond to whatever Idalia may bring,” he added.
The executive order said that Idalia “has the potential to produce severe impacts to citizens throughout south-central and southeast coastal Georgia”, and that potential flooding, downed trees, power lines, and debris may render “Georgia’s network of roads impassable in affected counties, isolating residences and persons from access to essential public services.”
Chatham county to feel peak of storm between now and 9pm
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Here are some photos of the damage in Perry, Florida, a small, historic city about 15 miles inland from the coast where Hurricane Idalia made landfall:
More now on what Idalia means for Americ’a’s insurance companies, via Reuters:
“Historically, what happens when you have these hurricanes is that everyone gets worried about the liability following the hurricane,” said Thomas Hayes, chairman and managing member of Great Hill Capital LLC in New York, adding that insurers typically end up being able to raise prices after such events.
The impact could have a knock-on effect on reinsurers, which insure insurance companies, and have been raising rates in recent years because of steepening losses that industry players partly attribute to the impact of climate change. Higher reinsurance rates can affect the premiums that insurers charge their customers.
Nationally, US reinsurance rates for policies that had claims for natural catastrophes rose 30%-50% during July renewals, while in Florida the increase was 30%-40%, reinsurance broker Gallagher Re said in July.
Insurers were expected to face claims for billions of dollars from Hurricane Idalia, adding to a challenging year for the industry that could result in higher premiums for customers, Reuters reports.
In Florida, UBS bank estimated average insured losses of $9.36bn with a 50% chance of losses of over $4.05bn and a 10% likelihood of losses of $25.6bn, based on data from 28 August. The wide range reflects potential changes in the storm’s intensity and path.
At about $10bn, Idalia would cost insurers less than 10 of the costliest hurricanes to hit the United States.
The Associated Press has spoken to a resident in Perry, a mill town located just inland from the Big Bend region where Idalia came ashore.
“All hell broke loose,” Belond Thomas said.
Thomas, a 41-year-old worker at the town’s paper mill, fled with her family and some friends to a motel, thinking it would be safer than riding out the storm at home. But as Idalia‘s eye passed over about 8.30am, a loud whistling noise pierced the air and the high winds ripped the building’s roof off, sending debris down on her pregnant daughter, who was lying in bed. Fortunately, she was not injured.
“It was frightening,” Thomas said. “Things were just going so fast … Everything was spinning.”
Emergency services in Chatham county have warned residents to expect the most severe impacts from the tropical storm between now and 9pm. It is currently just past 8pm local time.
“The greatest impact to Chatham county could be rainfall, with predictions of one inch, coastal flooding, and rip currents. Areas prone to flooding are at risk of flooding with the arrival of Idalia. Tides at Fort Pulaski are predicted to be 10.1ft. A risk of severe weather, including tornadoes spawned by Idalia still exists. Potential of strong tropical storm winds with higher gusts,” Emergency Management Chatham county writes on its website.
It urges residents to ensure they are monitoring their phone and email for updates.
Hello, this is Helen Sullivan with the latest developments as Idalia hits the south-eastern United States.
Here are some more images of the flooding and damage from Idalia so far.
Officials warn that the storm surge will continue overnight, with flooding expected in the Carolinas.
The National Weather Service has warned: “Areas of flash, urban, and moderate river flooding, with considerable impacts, are expected from east central Georgia, through eastern South Carolina and eastern North Carolina into Thursday.”
Florida officials said in a new update that the initial search and rescue operations were 75% complete and authorities so far had not confirmed any deaths.
“We are not finding anybody at home, so … many, many people heeded the warnings to evacuate,” Kevin Guthrie, director of Florida’s division of emergency management, said at a news briefing, CNN reported. He said the state had not tracked any reports of missing people from local police agencies.
Authorities earlier reported two traffic deaths, however, that may have been related to Idalia, including one man who lost control of his car and struck a tree.
It’s early evening on the US east coast and here’s a summary of where things stand so far:
Hurricane Idalia made landfall shortly after daybreak with 160mph gusts near Keaton Beach on Florida’s Gulf coast.
As Idalia tore through Florida, the hurricane split trees in half, flooded roadways and ripped roofs off of buildings.
The hurricane also submerged the small coastal community of Steinhatchee and set record-high water levels across a wide area stretching 200 miles south of Tampa.
Idalia weakened to a tropical storm on Wednesday afternoon after tearing through the Big Bend region of Florida.
Officials say two people have died in car crashes – a 40-year-old motorist in Pasco county, north of Tampa, who collided with a tree after losing control of his car, and a 59-year-old in Gainesville.
More than 217,000 customers remained without power in Florida as of early Wednesday evening, according to poweroutage.us.
There have been more than a dozen tornado warnings and mandatory evacuation orders in at least 28 Florida counties.
A tree split and hit the governor’s mansion, but Ron DeSantis’s wife said no one was injured.
DeSantis said, “You loot, we shoot.”
Idalia has weakened to a tropical storm after tearing through the Big Bend region of Florida, officials said late on Wednesday afternoon, AP reports.
It was a category 3 hurricane when it made landfall near Keaton Beach in Florida early in the morning, but by the afternoon had weakened with winds of 70 mph (113km/h). The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has called Idalia “an unprecedented event”.
The National Hurricane Center has issued a warning on power shortages following a storm, urging residents to never use generators indoors or in garages to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
It also urged residents to use flashlights, not candles, to avoid risk of fire.
The Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, warned potential looters seeking to steal from people’s homes following the storm, saying: “You loot, we shoot.”
“I’ve told all of our personnel at the state level, you protect people’s property and we are not going to tolerate any looting in the aftermath of a natural disaster. I mean, it’s just ridiculous that you would try to do something like that on the heels of an almost category 4 hurricane hitting this community,” DeSantis said in a press conference on Wednesday.
“Also, just remind potential looters that even you never know what you’re walking into. People have a right to defend the property. [In] this part of Florida, you got a lot of advocates [who] are proponents of the second amendment and I’ve seen signs in different people’s yards in the past after these disasters and I would say probably here: ‘You loot, we shoot.’”
World Central Kitchen, a non-profit founded by the celebrity chef and restaurateur José Andrés, mobilized its teams across western Florida ahead of Hurricane Idalia making landfall earlier today.
WCK teams have prepared hundreds of sandwiches to provide immediate relief for residents.
The Florida division of emergency management has issued a warning on hidden dangers of floodwaters.
“Please do NOT walk, wade or drive through floodwaters as they can hide a variety of dangers,” the division said.
Here are some graphics created by the Guardian’s visuals team on Hurricane Idalia’s path and direction:
The Guardian has published an explainer on storm surges and the threat from storm surges from Hurricane Idalia.
For the full story, click here: