ST.PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Hurricane Ian left a trail of destruction in southwest Florida, stranding people in flooded homes, damaging the roof of a hospital’s intensive care unit and making landfall on the Atlantic coast. Before 20 lakh people cut off electricity.

The National Hurricane Center warned that one of the most powerful hurricanes to hit the United States barreled into the Florida peninsula on Wednesday night, threatening devastating inland flooding.

The center’s 2 a.m. advisory said Ion was expected to emerge over Atlantic waters later Thursday, bringing torrential rain to central and northern Florida.

In Port Charlotte, along Florida’s Gulf Coast, storm surges flooded a hospital’s lower-level emergency room, even as strong winds tore part of the roof off its intensive care unit. According to a doctor who

Dr. Bridget Bodine of HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital said the water fell into the ICU, prompting staff to move the hospital’s sickest patients — some of whom were on ventilators — to other floors. was forced Crew members tried to mop up the mess using towels and plastic bins.

The medium-sized hospital is spread over four floors, but due to damage, patients are forced to stay in only two. Bodine had planned to spend the night there in case people injured by the storm arrived in need of help.

“As long as our patients are fine and nobody dies or has a bad outcome, that’s all that matters,” Bodine said.

Law enforcement officials in nearby Fort Myers received calls from people trapped in flooded homes or worried relatives. Appeals were also posted on social media sites, with some videos showing debris-covered water cascading down the sides of homes.

Brittany Heller, a journalist in Pittsburgh, contacted emergency workers in North Fort Myers about her mother, whose home was under 5 feet (1.5 meters) of water.

“We don’t know when the water will go down. We don’t know how they’re going to go, their cars are broken,” Heller said. “The only way out is on the boat.”

Hurricane Ian turned roads into rivers and uprooted trees as it pushed a wall of storm surge with winds of 150 mph (241 km/h) into southwest Florida on Wednesday. Ian had Category 4 strength at landfall and was tied for the fifth-strongest hurricane, when measured by wind speed, to ever hit the United States.

Ian weakened to Category 1 strength by late Wednesday with sustained winds of 90 mph (144 km/h) as it moved over land. Still, storm surges of up to 6 feet (2 meters) were expected on the opposite side of the state, in northeast Florida on Thursday.

The storm was about 55 miles (90 km) southwest of Orlando with sustained winds of 75 mph (120 km/h) at 2 a.m. Thursday, the Miami-based hurricane center said. were

A hurricane warning is in effect north of Bonita Beach, about 31 miles (50 km) south of Fort Myers, including Tampa Bay to the Anclote River and from Sebastian Inlet to the Flagler/Volusia county line.

The center discontinued the hurricane warning between Bonita Beach and Chokolowski. A tropical storm warning was also issued from Chokolowski to Flamingo in the southwestern tip of the state.

The hurricane center said hurricane-force winds are expected in central Florida through early Thursday, with the potential for widespread, catastrophic flooding.

No fatalities had been reported in the United States from Ian as of late Wednesday. But a boat carrying Cuban migrants capsized in stormy weather east of Key West on Wednesday.

The U.S. Coast Guard launched a search and rescue mission for 23 people and managed to locate three survivors about two miles (three kilometers) south of the Florida Keys, officials said. Four other Cubans swam to Stock Island just east of Key West, the U.S. Border Patrol said. Air crews continued to search for the remaining 20 possible migrants.

The storm previously tore through Cuba, killing two people and knocking out the country’s electrical grid.

The eye of the hurricane made landfall near Cayo Costa, a barrier island west of heavily populated Fort Myers. As it approached, the water from Tampa Bay poured out.

According to the PowerOutage.us site, more than 2 million Florida homes and businesses were left without power. Almost every home and business in the three counties was without power.

Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Parmel, just north of Fort Myers, announced a curfew between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. amid “life-saving purposes,” saying violators face second-degree misdemeanor charges. May have to.

“I am enacting this curfew as a means to protect the people and property of Charlotte County,” Parmel said.

Weather Underground predicts the storm will pass near Daytona Beach and move into the Atlantic before returning to the coast in South Carolina on Friday.

The governors of South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia have already declared states of emergency. Forecasters predict Ian will move toward these states as a tropical storm, possibly dumping more flooding rains into the weekend.

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Associated Press contributors include Cristina Mesquita in Havana, Cuba; Cody Jackson and Adriana Gomez Lakin in Tampa, Florida; Frida Frisaro in Miami; Anthony Izaguirre in Tallahassee, Florida; Mike Schneider in Orlando, Florida; Seth Borenstein and Amir Madani in Washington; Bobby Kenna Calvan in New York; Andrew Welsh-Higgins in Columbus, Ohio; Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama, and Alina Hortonen in Phoenix, Arizona.

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