Home > National > Hurricane Idalia Hits Florida With 125 MPH Winds, Flooding Streets, Snapping Trees and Cutting Power

Hurricane Idalia Hits Florida With 125 MPH Winds, Flooding Streets, Snapping Trees and Cutting Power

Perry, Fla. (AP) — Hurricane Idalia tore into Florida at the speed of a fast-moving train Wednesday, splitting trees in half, ripping roofs off hotels and turning small cars into boats before sweeping into Georgia as a still-powerful storm that flooded roadways and sent residents running for higher ground.

“All hell broke loose,” said Belond Thomas of Perry, a mill town located just inland from the Big Bend region where Idalia came ashore.

Thomas fled with her family and some friends to a motel, thinking it would be safer than riding out the storm at home. But as Idalia’s eye passed over about 8:30 a.m., a loud whistling noise pierced the air and the high winds ripped the building’s roof off, sending debris down on her pregnant daughter, who was lying in bed. Fortunately, she was not injured.

“It was frightening,” Thomas said. “Things were just going so fast. … Everything was spinning.”

After coming ashore, Idalia made landfall near Keaton Beach at 7:45 a.m. as a high-end Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 125 mph (205 kph). It had weakened to a tropical storm with winds of 70 mph (113 kph) by Wednesday afternoon.

As the eye moved inland, high winds shredded signs, blew off roofs, sent sheet metal flying and snapped tall trees. But as of midday Wednesday, there were no confirmed deaths in Florida, although fatal traffic accidents in two counties may end up being storm-related Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

Unlike last year’s Hurricane Ian, which hit the heavily populated Fort Myers area, leaving 149 dead in the state, Idalia blew into a very lightly populated area known as Florida’s “nature coast,” one of the state’s most rural regions that lies far from crowded metropolises or busy tourist areas and features millions of acres of undeveloped land.

That doesn’t mean that it didn’t do major damage. Rushing water covered streets near the coast, unmoored small boats and nearly a half-million customers in Florida and Georgia lost power. In Perry, the wind blew out store windows, tore siding off buildings and overturned a gas station canopy. Heavy rains partially flooded Interstate 275 in Tampa , and toppled power lines onto the northbound side of Interstate 75 just south of Valdosta, Georgia.

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