Shocking drone footage shows the power of Hurricane Idalia as mansion at landfall site looks like a ripped up doll’s house and another is completely cut off from neighborhood – after 16ft storm surge that’s killed at least two
Shocking footage shows the devastation caused by apocalyptic Hurricane Idalia tearing through a Keaton Beach home and ripping off the roof – as water levels continue to rise.
The monster storm has been downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane as it moved inland to batter southern Georgia with 75mph winds and left a path of destruction in its wake.
Hurricane Idalia has so far claimed two lives after making landfall onto Florida‘s Big Bend at Keaton Beach at 7.45am on Wednesday – and is barrelling its way towards North and South Carolina.
One property was left looking like a doll’s house with the walls partially ripped down with furniture surviving the worst of the winds.
A bed was secured in place while a television miraculously remained attached to the wall despite the battering by high winds.
Video also captured the moment a storm surge swept up to a window of a one-story property, as debris swept from the roof and trees were battered by the winds.
Officials say the ‘apocalyptic’ 16ft storm surge has caused catastrophic flooding, as water beaches homes across Steinhatchee with 110mph winds battering the state.
Florida’s First Lady Casey DeSantis posted online showing that a tree had fallen on the Governor’s mansion, adding that while they were home at the time of the incident, no one was injured.
At least two people have died in the hurricane so far, with Pasco County officials confirming one, 40, crashed his Ford Ranger while a second, 59, swerved into a ditch in Gainesville.
Crews are still searching for a passenger who toppled overboard of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, the Wonder of the Seas, on Tuesday, as it was passing off the coast of Cuba.
A curfew for Madison County in Florida, which borders Georgia, will go into effect starting at 8pm until 8am on Thursday.
Officials confirmed that more than 75 people have been rescued from the flood waters in St. Petersburg, as rescue efforts are still in place.
The hurricane stretched from Central Florida to southern Georgia, covering around 250 miles, as of Wednesday morning.
It’s the strongest storm to make landfall in the Big Bend region in 127 years, matching an unnamed hurricane in 1896.
The White House said President Joe Biden is receiving updates on the hurricanes path, along with regular briefings from his team. He spoke with DeSantis on Wednesday afternoon.
Deanne Criswell, the FEMA administrator, said: ‘The president reiterated that if anything is needed from the federal government.
‘We will be able to support. We have over 1,000 personnel currently deployed, prepared to support not just Florida but all of our states that are in the path as needed.’
Nearly 1,000 bridges in Florida will need to be inspected for storm damage, as well as several major roadways that cross the Steinhatchee River and the Swanee River on the Big Bend coast, according to authorities.
One man in Perry, Florida, told CNN: ‘I don’t know if I have a house to go back to. This right here, it’s horrible. We have never seen this before. Category one has scared us. Usually we ride it out. This right here is bad.’
In an address from the White House on Wednesday afternoon, President Biden said: ‘I don’t think anybody can deny the impact of the climate crisis now. The impacts of this storm are being felt throughout the Southeast.
‘When I took office, I directed my team to raise our game in how we lead and coordinate our responses to natural disasters.’
He added that he has spoken to DeSantis multiple times, and has mobilized more than 1,500 federal personnel and more than 540 urban search and rescue team personnel who are on the ground
Tens of thousands of people are under evacuation orders, and at least 260,000 are without power as flooding is battering the Big Bend coastline.
Tornado watches have been issued across Florida as well as in parts of North and South Carolina until at least 10pm on Wednesday.
The National Weather Service confirmed that Lowndes County in Georgia had been hit by between 3 to 5 inches of rain in less than an hour. More than 100,000 customers in Georgia were without power as of noon.
Authorities are warning that there will be ‘life-threatening’ storm surges to Tybee Island and Hilton Head Island off the coast of Savannah, Georgia.
Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia said there had already been a ‘heavy impact’ in the southern part of the state, including flash flooding, downed trees and the possibility of nine to 10 inches of rain in places.
He added: ‘Thankfully it’s nothing to the scale that Michael was,’,referring to a powerful 2018 hurricane.
Charleston County authorities, in South Carolina, are advising residents to stay inside for the next 24 hours to reduce their risk of coming to harm.
Tallahassee avoided much of the punch from the storm, according to Governor DeSantis, with the NWS adding: ‘We were fortunately spared from the worst.’
It is the latest hurricane to batter Florida, which has barely recovered from Hurricane Ian – which cost the state $113 billion to repair.
Idalia is the second storm of a century to hit Keaton Beach, where the hurricane made landfall, in 30 years.
What is the eye and eyewall of a hurricane?
Described as the most devastating region of the storm, the eyewall surrounds the eye of the storm.
The eye is the roughly circular area of comparatively light winds that encompasses the center of a severe tropical cyclone.
It is either completely or partially surrounded by the eyewall cloud – which is an organized band or ring of cumulonimbus clouds that surround the eye, or light-wind center of a tropical cyclone.
The convergence of winds here is so strong that the air rises faster, and with more force, than anywhere else in a hurricane, producing intense rain and damaging winds.
In March 1993, the region was struck by what has been called ‘the storm of the century,’ with wind gusts over 90 miles per hour, tornadoes and a devastating storm surge with at least seven killed in the county.
Tampa’s airport confirmed that it would be reopening at 4pm after sustaining ‘minimal damage’ from the storm.
Idalia surged to a Category 4 storm in the early hours because of warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, reaching speeds of up to 156mph – before dropping to 125mph shortly after 7am and 110mph at 9am.
The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) has warned of catastrophic storm surges of up to 12 to 16 feet in the worst affected areas.
Cedar Kay is being hit with almost 9 feet of storm surge, the worst in 109 years with waters still rising rapidly – eclipsing a record from Hurricane Hermine in 2016.
The entire downtown commercial area in Cedar Keys, Florida is underwater after Hurricane Idalia battered the area.
In Tampa Bay, water levels surpassed 4.5 feet on Wednesday morning, exceeding the previous high water mark of 3.79 feet from Tropical Storm Eta in 2020.
Clearwater Beach also set a new record-high water level at 4.05 feet, surpassing the previous record of 4.02 feet from the 1993 Storm of the Century.
Hurricane Idalia has been branded ‘an unprecedented event’ by the National Weather Service in Tallahassee.
It will be one of only three Category 3 hurricanes to make landfall within 60 miles of Cedar Keys.
Hurricane Easy in 1950 and an unnamed hurricane in 1896 are the only others of that strength to make landfall in that area.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Governor Ron DeSantis warned ‘don’t mess with this storm’ as the power briefly went out from his headquarters.
He added that there have been 15 tornado warnings issued, saying: ‘It’s going to be a significant, significant impact.’
DeSantis declared a state of emergency for 49 Florida counties, as 5,500 National Guard members were mobilized to help with evacuations and building defenses.
The region is braced for another ‘multibillion-dollar insurance industry event’, with some firms restricting their business in Florida because of the common weather events.
State regulations prevent them from raising prices for customers, which they claim forces them to say no to new policies.
The Insurance Information Institute estimates that property and casualty insurers in the state have had cumulative underwriting losses of more than $1 billion for the last three years.
North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia have all declared states of emergency, with assistance being provided from both California and New York.
California Governor Gavin Newsom is sending specialized search-and-rescue teams to Orlando and Atlanta.
New York’s Task Force 1, made up of NYPD and fire department employees, has arrived in South Carolina in preparation for rescue efforts.
Idalia is the third hurricane to make landfall in Florida in the last 12 months, following Hurricane Ian in September 2022 and Hurricane Nicole in October 2022.
DeSantis suspended tolls in several counties as he urged residents to finalize their storm and evacuation preparation.
The last hurricane to make landfall in the region was 2016’s Hermine, which made landfall as a Category 1 storm.
More than 30,000 utility workers have been put on standby to make repairs as quickly as possible in the hurricane’s wake.
The storm could be a big blow to a state still dealing with lingering damage from last year’s Hurricane Ian, which killed 150 people – more in Florida than any hurricane in almost 90 years.
A tornado watch is now in effect for more than seven million people across central and western Florida, including Tampa, until 6am ET on Wednesday.
Peak levels of the surge are expected to hit between Chassahowitzka and Aucilla River, with residents advised to follow advice from local officials.
FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell confirmed that the Biden administration made a supplemental request to Congress for $12billion to support the agency’s disaster relief fund.