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Ian Latest: Weaker Storm Brings Rain, Flash Floods to Carolinas

By Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- Ian lost its hurricane status after pummeling South Carolina with violent winds and a deadly storm surge, knocking out power to tens of thousands in the US Southeast.

The storm came ashore as a Category 1 hurricane just after 2 p.m. local time near Georgetown, South Carolina, with 85-mile (137-kilometer) per-hour winds, according to the National Hurricane Center. Wind speeds weakened to about 60 miles per hour as of 8 p.m., even as Ian brings heavy rain, flash floods and high winds to both South and North Carolina. More than 392,000 customers are without power in the Carolinas and Virginia.

Florida, meanwhile, continues to reel under the storm’s impact. Almost 1.8 million homes and businesses remain without power, and Lee County, the hardest-hit area, has no running water. Homes, bridges and other infrastructure are in ruin, with damage estimates ranging from $68 billion to $100 billion. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said it will take years to recover.

Florida officials have confirmed one death from Ian, while 20 more remain unconfirmed, according to Kevin Guthrie, director of the state’s division of emergency management. Authorities have warned the death toll may climb. Three people were killed in Cuba, according to the Associated Press.

Cuba Requests US Aid After Devastation, WSJ Says (7:38 p.m.)

Cuba’s government is seeking emergency assistance from the US in the aftermath of Ian’s devastation, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing email communications

No exact amount was requested and the US is trying to determine if Cuba will supplement its request, the newspaper said. Havana is making the rare request as it contends with an economic crisis and while its longtime supporter Russia struggles with the war in Ukraine.

Perdue Cancels Shift at South Carolina Poultry Plant (7 p.m.)

Poultry producer Perdue Farms canceled a shift Friday at a South Carolina plant and shut a Georgia distribution center as Hurricane Ian made a second landfall.

Some production will be delayed until next week at the chicken plant in Dillon, South Carolina, with no loss in volume expected, according to Perdue spokeswoman Diana Souder. The Carolinas account for about 17% of American chicken production.

Biggest Florida Utility Restores Power to 1.2 Million (7 p.m.)

Florida Power & Light Co., the state’s biggest utility, said it had restored power to 1.2 million homes and businesses as of 6 p.m. local time Friday. Still, another 850,000 customers lack power two days after Ian made landfall in the state.

Some parts of the NextEra Energy Inc. utility’s service territory still remains inaccessible due to high water or other damage, said Eric Silagy, FPL’s chief executive officer.

“There are bridges that we cannot safely go across or no longer exist,” he said in a press conference late Friday. “So we are going to have to get equipment over to those areas using either boats or barges or wait in the high flood water areas for the water to recede.”

South Carolina Oyster Suppliers Face Weeks of Delays (6:28 p.m.)

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said Friday it’s closing all shellfish harvesting beds across the state due to disruptions caused by Ian, leading to weeks of possible delays.

That means suppliers to local restaurants and distributors won’t be able to collect oysters until they get the all-clear from the state. The start of the 2022-2023 wild shellfish harvest season, which had been scheduled for Oct. 1, has been delayed.

Coastal Fuel Markets Close in Parts of South Carolina (5:24 p.m.)

With Ian lashing South Carolina, coastal fuel markets in Savannah, Charleston and elsewhere have shut down, preventing fuel trucks from loading and making deliveries, according to fuel distributor Mansfield Energy. That could limit fuel supplies in the region in the coming hours and even days.

In Tampa, meanwhile, fuel terminals have re-opened, though lines are as long as 5-6 hours, Mansfield said in a note to customers. Hospitals, senior care centers and grocery stores are among the vital businesses in need of diesel to power their generators.

Florida Farmers Face Widespread Crop Destruction (4:24 p.m.)

Florida’s farmers and ranchers are facing “widespread destruction” of their crops from Hurricane Ian, according to the state’s farm bureau.

The region’s farmers are still assessing damage, but it has become clear that, in areas of Florida’s citrus belt, “there has been significant fruit dropped from the trees,” the Florida Farm Bureau said by email. “Fall vegetables once rooted are now lost.”

Livestock and dairy farms have been “devastated,” the bureau said, and families in the region are facing weeks of rebuilding while still without power.

Kinder Morgan Fuel Terminal Remains Shut After Ian (3:19 p.m.)

Kinder Morgan Inc.’s fuel terminal in Orlando remains shut, but will have limited truck loading capacity by Friday evening and additional racks back online on Saturday, according to spokeswoman Melissa Ruiz. The company plans to restart its Central Florida Pipeline system, which moves fuel from Tampa to Orlando, on Saturday.

Fuel terminals at Port Manatee, Port Sutton and Tampa are undergoing assessments and service could ramp up by late Friday or Saturday, Ruiz said. Kinder Morgan has shut its terminals in Charleston, South Carolina.

Hospitals, senior living facilities, fire stations and grocery stores are among those waiting for diesel fuel deliveries to power generators, said Eliot Vancil, president of Fuel Logic. Businesses typically keep one to two days of supply on hand, so when generators are running, it is “critical to get to them daily,” Vancil told Bloomberg.

At Its Peak, Ian Left a Quarter of Florida in the Dark (2:35 p.m.)

Rarely does a hurricane trigger widespread power failures the way Ian has. At its peak, the storm bearing 150-mile-an-hour winds had knocked out power to 2.7 million homes and businesses across Florida, leaving 24% of the state in the dark, according to an analysis of power outage reports from the Florida Public Service Commission dating back five years.

For comparison, Hurricane Michael knocked out power to 4% in 2018. Other recent storms including Eta, Elsa, Fred and Isaias in 2020 and 2021 affected less than 1%.

Some Florida Customers Face Extended Power Outages (2:07 p.m.)

Some customers may be in the dark for more than a month because Ian’s damage means parts of the grid will have to be rebuilt from the ground up, according to Lee County Electric Cooperative, which serves Florida’s hardest-hit country.

The cooperative’s customers include some residents and businesses in counties that encompass Fort Myers and Sanibel Island -- communities devastated by the Category-4 hurricane.

“While they rebuild homes and businesses, we will rebuild the infrastructure so that it is ready when they are able to receive power,” said Karen Ryan, a spokeswoman for the cooperative.

Ian Hit Florida at Key Time for Fruit, Vegetable Planting (12:59 p.m.)

Ian has hit a leading producer of fruits and vegetables in the US for the cooler fall and winter months, disrupting planting at a time when food inflation already is soaring.

Though the toll on Florida’s agriculture is still uncertain, many in the industry are facing power outages, widespread flooding and the inability to access fields, groves and packinghouses, said Christina Morton, director of communications for the state’s Fruit and Vegetable Association.

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Author: Bloomberg News