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Tropical Storm Italia continues to pound the Southeast Atlantic coast Thursday morning, bringing flash flood warnings to North Carolina and communities across Florida’s west coast surveying extensive damage from the most powerful hurricane to hit its Big Bend region in more than 100 years.
After making landfall in Florida on Wednesday as a Category 3 hurricane, the storm moved through southern Georgia and South Carolina, leaving hundreds of thousands without power and putting coastal communities at risk.
“The combination of storm surge and waves can inundate dry areas near the coast by moving them inland from the coast” National Hurricane Center said Thursday morning.
The National Weather Service said 2 to 5 inches of rain fell in parts of southeastern North Carolina, including the Wilmington area, where a flash flood warning was in effect early Thursday. Parts of Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover and Bender counties were under the alert. Additionally, isolated tornadoes are possible.
Earlier, in Florida’s Big Bend region — the area between the Panhandle and the peninsula — near Keaton Beach Wednesday morning, the storm caused damage, tearing roofs off buildings and flooding homes. West coast of the state.
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U.S. Representative Jared Moskowitz said Wednesday night that many of the areas that bore the brunt of the storm were not equipped to handle such a powerful hurricane.
“In those areas, a lot of them are constrained financially. They don’t necessarily have the resources,” Moskowitz, who represents the South Florida district and leads the state’s emergency management division, told CNN.
“Some communities will never be the same, and others will be rebuilt and they’ll be a little bit different,” Moskowitz said. “This is a life-changing event for some of these counties.”
In Pictures: Cyclone Italia
Officials urged thousands to evacuate before the storm surge from Tampa Bay through Big Bay caused several record-high water levels. The storm brought down power lines and caused flooding in parts of Georgia and South Carolina, including Charleston and North Carolina, where flash flooding occurred early Thursday morning in Wilmington.
In Charleston, the storm downed trees and led officials to close flooded roads, police said. The National Weather Service reported that water also breached dunes in Edisto Beach, South Carolina.
Track Italia’s route here
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said Wednesday that there was “one unconfirmed casualty” in Florida after the storm.
Two people were killed in two separate crashes Wednesday morning during severe storm conditions out of Italia, Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Gaskins said earlier. Gaskins noted that both deaths were weather-related. It is not clear whether DeSantis was referring to one of these accidents. CNN has reached out to the agencies for clarification.
Another death was reported in Lowndes County, Georgia, when a tree fell while cutting a tree on the highway, Sheriff Ashley Falk told CNN.
As of 5 a.m. Thursday, a tropical storm warning is in effect for the North Carolina-Virginia border north of the South Santee River, including the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds. A storm surge watch is in effect for Beaufort Inlet to Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina and the Neuse and Pamlico rivers.
Here are other developments on the storm early Thursday:
On the CarolinasTropical Storm Italia was centered about 45 miles south-southwest of Wilmington, with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph as of 5 a.m. Thursday. The National Hurricane Center predicts the storm will move slightly off the North Carolina coast late Thursday. said.
Flood Rescue: First responders rescued about 150 residents from flooded neighborhoods in hard-hit Pasco County, Florida, north of Tampa, the county’s fire-rescue chief said. Some areas experienced 3 to 5 feet of water.
Thousands of houses damaged: In Pasco County, Florida alone, between 4,000 and 6,000 homes are under water, County Administrator Mike Carballa said.
Historical Water Levels: South Carolina’s Charleston Harbor saw its water rise more than 9 feet, the fifth-highest level ever recorded, according to the National Weather Service. Florida’s Cedar Key, East Bay Tampa, Clearwater Beach and St. Petersburg also experienced unprecedented storm surges.
Thousands in Darkness: As of early Thursday, about 143,000 homes and businesses were without power in Florida. Another 126,000 outages were in Georgia, about 34,000 in South Carolina and about 18,000 in North Carolina, the watchdog said. PowerOutage.us.
Residents are advised to stay indoors: Florida officials are urging residents to avoid being outdoors as cleanup and search efforts continue. Taylor County Sheriff Wayne Padgett cited the dangers of downed trees and power lines.
Advice on boiling water: DeSoto, Dixie, Leon, Levy, Marion and Taylor counties in Florida are under boil water advisories issued by the state Department of Health.
Some school districts are slated to reopen: DeSantis said at least 30 of the 52 school districts closed before the storm will reopen Thursday. Eight districts are slated to reopen on Friday.
Italia is expected to maintain its tropical storm status Thursday morning as it moves off the East Coast. Heavy rainfall in South and North Carolina “will continue with significant impacts to areas of flash, urban and moderate river flooding,” the hurricane center explained.
Meanwhile, Central Florida could see an additional 1 to 2 inches of rain Thursday.
On Wednesday, Hurricane Italia set records for highest water levels in many parts of Florida.
In Cedar Key, an island town about 80 miles north of Tampa, the storm surge reached 8.9 feet, breaking the record of 5.99 feet set by Hurricane Hermine in 2016.
Storm surge in Tampa’s East Bay was 5.7 feet Wednesday, roughly 2 feet higher than the 2020 record from Tropical Storm Etta.
In Clearwater Beach, storm surge from Italia reached 5.2 feet, up from 4.02 feet from the 1993 “Storm of the Century,” which also dumped snow on much of the East Coast.