United States: Hurricane Idalia hits Florida and the southeast of the country hard
In the United States, Hurricane Idalia made landfall in Florida on Wednesday morning. Strong winds of nearly 210 km/h are also expected in the state of Georgia. The Gulf Coast is also affected. We take stock of the situation.
Taylor County flooded area after Hurricane Idalia, Florida, August 30, 2023. © Daniel Kozin / AP
By: RFI Follow
With our correspondent in Miami, David Thomson
After hitting the northwest coast of Florida, Hurricane Idalia left a landscape of desolation in its path. The authorities speak of catastrophic floods. They reached 5 meters in places with thousands of homes under water. 260,000 homes are currently without electricity. Everywhere, trees were laid down.
Even the Florida governor's residence in Tallahassee suffered damage with a huge century-old oak, which did not withstand the winds. Air travel was affected: a thousand flights were cancelled, airports in North Florida were of course closed.
Winds at 130 km/h
But the assessment of the material and human balance sheet has only just begun. Authorities are currently announcing one person killed after losing control of his vehicle due to winds. The good news is that Idalia continues to lose intensity. Since making landfall this morning at 7:45 a.m. local time, the hurricane has been downgraded from Category 3 to Category 1.
But it was now threatening other southern states. In the early afternoon, it hit Georgia, with winds certainly less powerful – they went from 200 to 130 km / h. Here too, the hurricane still did a lot of damage. Idalia continues on its way, it must strike in the evening South Carolina.
I believe that no one can dispute the impact of the climate crisis anymore. Let's look around us: historic floods, more intense droughts, extreme heat, major fires, have caused damage like we have never seen before. Not only in the Hawaiian Islands, in the United States, but also in Canada and elsewhere in the world.
Joe Biden points to global warming
Like Idalia, this kind of extreme weather events are multiplying and we will have to adapt, said Deanne Criswell, the director of Fema, the US federal agency in charge of responding to natural disasters, at a press conference at the White House on Wednesday. "What we've seen with this storm, as we've seen with other hurricanes in recent years, is that they're growing in intensity faster, because of the rise in water temperature. Whether it's in the Gulf of Mexico, in the Pacific or in the Atlantic," she says.
How local authorities need to communicate and prepare their residents for the future needs to be taken into account, Criswell said. "These storms are intensifying so rapidly that local emergency authorities have less time to warn, evacuate or shelter people. This is something that must be taken into consideration when preparing emergency plans.»
"There are a lot of submersive waves," says a Florida resident
Spencer Bahr documents the storm on social media. He lives in central Florida, not far from the coast. "My friends and I are fine. But about half an hour's drive to the west coast, there are plenty of submersive waves. Everyone who has houses there tells me they are completely flooded. In Tampa, we have pretty typical waves during a storm, but on the New Port Richey side, I have friends who have houses that are completely underwater. Their boats are adrift, away from their dock, because the water level is higher than the length of the moorings. Everywhere there are submersive waves of 1 meter fifty to three meters.»
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- United States
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