The Latest on Hurricane Ian:

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Police in historic St. Augustine, Florida, say water is rising in many areas of the city and are advising residents to stay inside until after Hurricane Ian passes.

The storm’s center moved off the coast earlier Thursday, but the old city continued to see rain and wind. High tide was at 11:30 a.m., around the height of the storm.

Police in the tourist city, noted for its Spanish-style architecture and stone fortress, made their warnings in a Facebook post that included images of flooded roads.

Ian is nearing hurricane strength again over the Atlantic Ocean. The coast of South Carolina is now under a hurricane warning.

Its top sustained winds grew to nearly 70 mph (110 kph) at midday Thursday, just shy of hurricane force, with higher gusts.



— Many trapped in Florida as Ian heads toward South Carolina

Florida hospitals evacuate hundreds of patients

— Search on for migrants after boat sinks off Florida Keys

Cuba begins to turn on lights

— Find more AP coverage here: https://apnews.com/hub/hurricanes



CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Storm Ian is nearing hurricane strength again over the Atlantic Ocean after swirling past Cape Canaveral, where NASA moved its moon rocket back into its Kennedy Space Center hangar as a precaution.

A NASA spokesperson said Thursday that teams were out starting to assess any damage. The space center remained closed and off limits to almost all of its 12,000 employees.

A storm surge of 2 feet (0.6 meters) was forecast for the surrounding area, and top sustained winds grew to nearly 70 mph (110 kph) with higher gusts at midday.

Besides bumping the lunar-orbiting test flight likely into November, the weather has delayed SpaceX’s next astronaut launch to the International Space Station until at least Oct. 5, two days later than scheduled.

Ian’s top sustained winds grew to nearly 70 mph (110 kph) with higher gusts at midday Thursday.


ORLANDO, Fla. — Some people who say they are stranded or are unable to get information after Hurricane Ian are turning to social media.

One Twitter user tagged accounts for Orange County rescue crews in central Florida with the message: “Can you guys come pick us up? We called the non emergency line and were told to wait till someone shows up. Family of 3, dog, and pregnant mom with twins.”

On the Fort Myers Police Department Facebook page, people posted addresses and asked about flooding severity. Some people who live out of state but own property in the area asked if they could travel to check on their homes.

“Does anyone know the status of Wyldewood Lakes Court area?? Trying to find out how my Aunt is doing. We lost contact,” someone posted.

The office of Gov. Fred DeSantis said search and rescue operations had been underway since 1 a.m. Thursday. The Coast Guard made dozens of rescues overnight, and there are more than 800 Urban Search and Rescue team members working, the office said.


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida’s main nursing home organization said Thursday that initial reports are that facilities have weathered Hurricane Ian “as good as can be.”

Kristen Knapp, spokesperson for the Florida Health Care Association, said 43 nursing homes moved about 3,400 residents as of Thursday morning, mostly in hard-hit southwest Florida.

As many as 20 homes had reported electricity outages, but Knapp said generators are powering those buildings. Water was shut off at some facilities, too.

Natural disasters can be especially harmful to older and disabled people, and past hurricanes have produced devastating episodes.


NAPLES, Fla. — Mud, snapped trees and toppled utility poles littered the landscape of southwest Florida on Thursday after it took a direct hit from Hurricane Ian.

Several feet of seawater swept through the luxury Le Jarden condominium tower on the Naples bayfront, destroying several cars and inundating the lobby, then receding overnight and leaving behind a thick, foul-smelling slurry of sand and seawater.

No one in the building was hurt, said resident Gregory Young, a retired real estate broker, but his Land Rover was destroyed.

“That’s OK, it’s just a car,” he said.

The Fort Myers RV Resort remained underwater, many of the mobile homes and RVs on the property badly damaged and in some cases gone, with nothing left but the concrete slabs on which they once sat.

Debris from the park collected along U.S. 41, including the seat of a golf cart and the twisted bits of a window screen. Utility poles were knocked down, the wires splaying into the road and along the front of the property.


COLUMBIA, S.C. — A hurricane warning was issued Thursday for the entire coast of South Carolina as storm Ian’s center drifted off the coast of Florida and back to sea.

The National Weather Service’s latest forecast showed that Ian’s winds were at 70 mph, just shy of hurricane force. The warm Atlantic waters are expected to help it gather strength as it curves back toward the U.S. coast.

In Charleston, South Carolina, officials opened parking garages so residents could get their cars above the imminent flooding.

Forecasters predicted the seventh highest water level Friday afternoon in more than 120 years of records, at 8.7 feet (2.7 meters) above the average low tide at the downtown harbor.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster joined his counterparts in Georgia and North Carolina in declaring a state of emergency so officials could access resources and receive federal emergency money.

Schools planned to go to online learning to keep buses off the road.


PUNTA GORDA, Fla. — Florida’s southwestern coast began assessing the damage from Hurricane Ian on Thursday as coastal floodwaters faded and the status of people on cut-off barrier islands remained unclear.

In Charlotte County, Emergency Management Director Patrick Fuller expressed cautious optimism that worst-case scenarios might not have been realized. No deaths or injuries had been confirmed, and no missing-persons reports had yet been made, he said.

On barrier islands that bore the brunt of the winds and storm surge, flyovers showed that “the integrity of the homes is far better than we anticipated,” Fuller said.

Still, rescue crews were trying to get access to those islands and other parts of the county “to determine the full status of all of our residents,” Fuller said.

Utility services were largely wiped out in the county, forcing the sheriff’s office to use cellphones to take emergency calls and limiting the capabilities of dispatchers.

In nearby Collier County, the sheriff’s office posted on Facebook that much of the surge had receded but warned people to stay off the roads.

Officials around Tampa Bay, which earlier had been feared to take a direct hit, rescinded evacuation orders and closed storm shelters. Damage was confined mainly to toppled trees and power lines.


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Rain and overflow from rivers is causing severe flooding near parts of Florida’s Atlantic coast as storm Ian makes its way back out to sea, officials said Thursday.

The Daytona Beach region is experiencing “historic flooding” that includes water in people’s homes, Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said at a news conference. He implored people to stay off the roads, and the county has imposed a curfew until 7 a.m. Friday.

“This is unprecedented for Volusia County,” said local emergency management official Jim Judge.

Farther inland, residents of a nursing home were taken to ambulances and buses Thursday morning in an Orlando neighborhood that doesn’t typically flood.

Paramedics rolled Avante Orlando residents out on stretchers and wheelchairs. At a neighboring apartment complex, cars were submerged in the parking lot.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office posted photos of deputies helping two people and a dog get to dry land north of Orlando.


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