The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Thursday that Ian had strengthened back into a hurricane again after raking Florida with destruction and flooding.
FEMA continued to urge people in the path of Ian to stay alert for storm surge watches and mind directions from local officials.
The states of Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia will have all declared states of emergency in anticipation of Ian's second landfall.
If you are in the path of #Ian, stay alert for storm surge watches & warnings & heed directions from your local officials. Get emergency alerts in your state by following:— FEMA (@fema) September 29, 2022
South Carolina: @SCEMD
North Carolina: @NCEmergency https://t.co/xaEOPucY6r
Officials were assessing the damage left by Hurricane Ian on Thursday, one day after the massive storm caused widespread damage throughout the state of Florida.
Rescue teams took down addresses of those needing help, waiting for Ian to pass as the historic storm surge and winds were too dangerous to venture out into. Thursday, teams worked to reach those stranded in flooded areas of Florida.
Local officials have reported confirmed deaths in Florida, but official numbers from the state and federal levels are still pending. Officials have said that for some of the deaths, they weren't certain if Hurricane Ian directly caused them.
The Associated Press reported had reportedly risen to at least four.
Dana Souza, city manager of Sanibel, said fire officials confirmed two deaths on the hard-hit barrier island. A local medical examiner's office referred questions on the deaths to the sheriff's office.
A 38-year-old man from Lake County reportedly died on Wednesday while in a vehicle accident when his vehicle hydroplaned. Medical examiners determined his death was related to the storm, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said.
A 72-year-old man from Deltona was confirmed death Thursday. Officials said he went outside to drain his pool and he fell into a canal and was later found dead.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said rescue efforts were focused, in part, around Sanibel Island. That area saw sections of a bridge leading to mainland Florida destroyed by a powerful storm surge.
Newly restrengthened Hurricane Ian still posed a serious possibility of causing life-threatening storm surge through Friday along northeast Florida, and the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina.
The coast of South Carolina was warned about winds expected to be Hurricane-force expected early on Friday. The coast of southeastern North Carolina received the same warning.
Portions of central Florida were experiencing ongoing record river flooding.
NHC said considerable flash flooding and urban flooding was expected in parts of southeastern Georgia and eastern South Carolina.
The powerful storm headed up the U.S. east coast to pass by Georgia's coast, aiming for the Carolinas, bringing with it again "life-threatening" storm surge, flooding and wind.
NHC said storm surge warnings were in effect for areas from Little River Inlet in South Carolina to Cape Fear River in North Carolina. A hurricane warning was issued for the coast of North Carolina.
Forecasts said the most likely first tropical storm-force winds to hit South Carolina should arrive around 8 p.m. ET. The storm was expected to linger over the Carolinas until around Friday at 8 a.m.
The National Hurricane Center issued hurricane warnings for the entire South Carolina coast after Ian emerged in the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday after spending nearly a full day over Florida. Also, the whole Georgia coast and most of eastern North Carolina are under a tropical storm warning.
At its peak, Hurricane Ian had top winds of 155 mph, making it a powerful Category 4 storm. The ferocious winds knocked out power to over 2 million customers.
The New York Times reported that over 500 people were rescued from flooded areas in southwest Florida by Thursday afternoon.
Emergency teams were still struggling to reach some of those stranded on Thursday.
Lee County Florida Sheriff Carmine Marceno said, “When you look at Fort Myers Beach, in particular, there’s no words to describe it,” after taking an aerial tour to assess the damage.
Ian came on shore around 3:05 p.m. ET Wednesday near Cayo Costa, Florida. Since then, Ian slowly marched across Florida, dumping heavy rain.
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno originally told ABC's "Good Morning America" that he confirmed, "fatalities are in the hundreds" after Hurricane Ian struck, but the outlet later said he could not confirm any casualties.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said statewide, there were two fatalities, but it was unclear whether those deaths were because of the storm.
Earlier Thursday, President Joe Biden declared nine Florida counties major federal disaster areas. DeSantis said he spoke with Biden and expects additional counties will be added.
Ian is no longer a hurricane as it weakened into a tropical storm on Thursday with top sustained winds of 70 mph as of 2 p.m. Thursday.
The storm’s main threat has been flooding rains. Several flash flood warnings were in effect in Central Florida, with some areas getting over 12 inches of rainfall.
Ian’s wind field had grown and morphed into tropical storm-force winds extending over 400 miles from its center.