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04 October 2023

Hurricane Idalia lashes Florida, then weakens and turns fury on Georgia


Hurricane Idalia plowed into Florida's Gulf Coast on Wednesday with howling winds, torrential rains and pounding surf, then weakened as it turned its fury on southeastern Georgia, where floodwaters trapped some residents in their homes.

Hours after Idalia slammed ashore as a powerful Category 3 hurricane at Keaton Beach in Florida's Big Bend region, packing winds of about 125 mph (201 kph), authorities were still trying to assess the full extent of damage in the hardest-hit areas, Reuters reported.

Video footage and photographs from the region around Idalia's landfall showed ocean waters washing over highways and neighborhoods swamped by extensive flooding at midday. Power outages were widespread.

Fierce winds ripped down the roof of a gasoline station in Perry, a town of about 7,000 residents roughly 20 miles (32 km) inland and north of where Idalia came ashore, CNN video showed.

At a late afternoon news conference, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said no hurricane fatalities had been confirmed and that it seemed most residents in vulnerable, low-lying areas had heeded evacuation orders and warnings to move to higher ground.