Rescuers searched for survivors among the ruins of Florida’s flooded homes from Hurricane Ian while authorities in South Carolina waited for daylight to assess damage from the storm’s second strike.
The powerful storm terrorised millions of people for most of the week, battering western Cuba before raking across Florida from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean, where it mustered enough strength for a final assault on South Carolina.
It has since weakened to a still-dangerous post-tropical cyclone and was crossing North Carolina toward Virginia overnight, pushing heavy rains toward the Mid-Atlantic states.
At least 30 people were confirmed dead, including 27 people in Florida mostly from drowning but others from the storm’s tragic after-effects.
An elderly couple died after their oxygen machines shut off when they lost power, authorities said.
Meanwhile, distraught residents waded through knee-high water on Friday, salvaging what possessions they could from their flooded homes and loading them onto rafts and canoes.
“I want to sit in the corner and cry. I don’t know what else to do,” Stevie Scuderi said after shuffling through her mostly destroyed Fort Myers apartment, the mud in her kitchen clinging to her purple sandals.
In South Carolina, Ian’s centre came ashore near Georgetown, a small community along the Winyah Bay about 60 miles north of Charleston.
The storm washed away parts of four piers along the coast, including two connected to the popular tourist town of Myrtle Beach.
The storm’s winds were much weaker on Friday than during Ian’s landfall on Florida’s Gulf Coast earlier in the week.
There, authorities and volunteers were still assessing the damage as shocked residents tried to make sense of what they just lived through.
Even though Ian has long passed over Florida, new problems continued to arise.
A 14-mile stretch of major Interstate 75 was closed late on Friday in both directions in the Port Charlotte area because of the huge amount of water swelling the Myakka River.
The official death toll climbed throughout the day on Friday, with authorities warning it would likely rise much higher once crews made a more comprehensive sweep of the damage.
Searches on Friday were aimed at emergency rescues and initial assessments, Florida Division of Emergency Management director Kevin Guthrie said.
The dead included a 68-year-old woman swept into the ocean by a wave and a 67-year-old man who who fell into rising water inside his home while awaiting rescue.
Authorities also said a 22-year-old woman died after an ATV rollover from a road washout and a 71-year-old man suffered a fatal fall from a rooftop while putting up rain shutters. Another three people died in Cuba earlier in the week.