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Tropical Storm Idalia Moving into Atlantic After Hitting Florida

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In this photo taken with a drone, debris from homes swept off their lots chokes a canal amid homes on stilts which remain standing, in Horseshoe Beach, Florida, Aug. 31, 2023, one day after the passage of Hurricane Idalia.
In this photo taken with a drone, debris from homes swept off their lots chokes a canal amid homes on stilts which remain standing, in Horseshoe Beach, Florida, Aug. 31, 2023, one day after the passage of Hurricane Idalia.

After leaving a mess of flooding throughout the Southeast of the United States, Tropical Storm Idalia is heading back out to sea.

Idalia slammed into Florida as a powerful hurricane on Wednesday, before weakening to a tropical storm and bringing heavy rain Thursday to the U.S. states of North and South Carolina.

The National Hurricane Center reported widespread flash flooding in coastal areas of North Carolina, with the center of the storm expected to move out into the Atlantic later in the day.

The forecast path for Idalia could take it to Bermuda still at tropical storm strength sometime around Sunday. The island dealt Wednesday with rains from another storm, Hurricane Franklin.

Idalia knocked out power to nearly 500,000 customers in Florida and neighboring Georgia while flooding coastal areas in Florida and spawning at least one tornado in South Carolina.

The storm made landfall with winds of about 200 kilometers per hour and was tied with an 1896 hurricane as the strongest ever to hit Florida's Big Bend area, where the peninsular state curves to meet its panhandle region to the west.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, accompanied by his wife Casey, walks around an affected area in the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia, in Cedar Key, Florida, Aug. 31, 2023.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, accompanied by his wife Casey, walks around an affected area in the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia, in Cedar Key, Florida, Aug. 31, 2023.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said he planned to tour the impacted area on Thursday. He said that since the storm hit a remote area of Florida, it was less harmful than anticipated.

"I think this one, there was definitely a lot of destruction but it was so much debris and so much woods and that's just going to require a lot to clean all that up," DeSantis said.

When the storm hit Georgia, it was still a hurricane with 144 kilometer per hour winds. But the storm's destruction could have been much worse, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said at a Thursday news conference in Atlanta.

"We're fortunate this storm was a narrow one, and it was fast moving and didn't sit on us," he said. "But if you were in the path, it was devastating. And we're responding that way."

Valdosta, a city of 55,000 people in southern Georgia, was hit particularly hard, the governor added.

"I've had multiple people text me in Valdosta and say that city will not be the same once the cleanup is done," Kemp said.

Storm surges pushed the coastal surf nearly 2.5 meters higher than normal at Cedar Key, near the landfall site, but the hurricane came ashore at low tide, minimizing an even worse possible surge of floodwaters.

Authorities reported at least two people were killed in weather-related car crashes in Florida, while Georgia reported one death related to the storm.

In preparation for rescue and repair efforts, about 5,500 National Guard troops were activated, and more than 30,000 utility workers stood by ahead of the storm's arrival.

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press.

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