by Brad Brooks and Jonathan Drake
FORT MYERS, FL/CHARLESTON, South Carolina, Oct 1 (Reuters) – Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina were trying to return to normal life on Saturday after Hurricane Ian, one of the more powerful to have struck the territory of the United States, but the still provisional toll is more than 20 dead and the damage is already estimated at several tens of billions of dollars.
Now downgraded to a post-tropical storm, Ian continues to weaken but remains a threat in parts of the Carolinas, Virginia and West Virginia, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
“The threat of storm surge, flash flooding and high winds persists,” he said.
After making landfall in Florida on Wednesday, where it devastated several seaside resorts, the hurricane hit the Georgetown waterfront, north of the city of Charleston, South Carolina, on Friday with winds measured at 140 km / h .
About 1.7 million homes and businesses remained without power in the three most affected states as of 2:30 a.m. (06:30 GMT) on Saturday, according to the specialist site PowerOutage.us.
The human and material toll remains to be established with precision, but its scale is already visible in Florida.
Friday morning, Kevin Guthrie, director of Florida’s Emergency Management Division, reported at least 21 reported deaths, adding that some remained confirmed.
The authorities then had no news of around 10,000 people, but many of them were probably in shelters or without electricity, he added.
Insurance companies estimate that the total cost of the hurricane could be between 28 and 47 billion dollars (28.6 and 48 billion euros), which would make Ian the costliest hurricane to have affected Florida since Andrew in 1992 according to real estate research firm CoreLogic.
President Joe Biden, for whom the destruction caused by Ian could be “among the worst (…) in the history of the country”, declared on Saturday the state of natural disaster in North Carolina, as he had already done for Florida, which allows affected counties to benefit from federal aid.
(Reporting Brad Brooks Fort Myers and Jonathan Drake Charleston, with Sharon Bernstein, Kanishka Singh and Juby Babu; French version Marc Angrand)