ORLANDO, Fla. — A full picture of the damage Hurricane Ian left behind in Florida is slowly emerging Thursday afternoon as the storm starts to bear down on Georgia.
Videos and photos from Fort Myers show near total destruction in some areas, with homes knocked completely off their foundations and cars and boats strewn around like toys.
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The causeway to Sanibel Island off the coast of Fort Myers was largely destroyed, leaving residents that stayed behind stranded. Few pictures have emerged from the area, and family members are becoming more desperate to hear from their loved ones.
A team of Channel 2 Action News reporters were fanned out across Florida Thursday as emergency workers raced to rescue people from their damaged and flooded homes.
Channel 2′s Michele Newell was in Englewood, about an hour north of Fort Myers, where people were still being rescued from their flooded homes.
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A woman and her elderly mother told Newell that they had been trapped in their house since last night with no power or cellphone service.
Flooding swamped many neighborhoods and volunteer crews were rescuing people via boat.
There was widespread flooding in the Orlando area, with roads and bridges underwater.
Channel 2′s Brian Mims was in Tybee Island Thursday afternoon, where wind was whipping up choppy surf as people prepared for what is likely to restrengthen into a Category 1 hurricane. The storm will likely make landfall somewhere along the Georgia/Florida coast in the early afternoon on Friday.
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Gov. Brian Kemp said he will not order mandatory evacuations, but warned residents who stay behind that they will be on their own.
Ted Nelson lives on Tybee and has no plans to leave.
“Bought me a brand-new generator,” Nelson said. “Lots of food that I’m gonna cook up and wait for it.”
In Jacksonville, residents were nervous.
“We have three high tides to make it through here,” one man said. “Hunker down, sandbag. If you have sandbags, put them up. If you’re in a flood-prone area, just stay off the roads and hunker down, because here we go.”
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