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Idalia brings flooding to Charleston and leaves 30K without power

After slamming into Florida with 125 mph winds and flooding homes, Tropical Storm Idalia breached South Carolina sea defenses and sent tides surging to new records, leaving streets flooded in its wake.

The storm reached the Palmetto State late Wednesday night, after making landfall earlier in the day in Florida’s Big Bend region. It has since been attributed to at least three deaths in Florida and Georgia.

Idalia had been downgraded from a Category 3 hurricane to a tropical storm as it made its way north from Florida, through Georgia and into South Carolina throughout the day – but its arrival in the state coincided with a king high tide, resulting in a breach of Charleston’s famed Battery district, which is known for its antebellum homes.

Water was knee-high along streets lining the area.

Almost 30,000 people throughout the state remained without power in South Carolina Thursday morning, as Idalia moved north.

Meanwhile, more than 100,000 Georgia residents and nearly 150,000 Floridians reported their power was still out as crews in those states began clean-up efforts.


A man wades up Sea Mountain Highway in North Myrtle Beach on Wednesday.
A man wades up Sea Mountain Highway in North Myrtle Beach on Wednesday.
AP

A car plunged into flood waters on Ocean Boulevard in North Myrtle Beach.
A car plunged into flood waters on Ocean Boulevard in North Myrtle Beach.
AP

A woman is pictured watching the storm surges.
Idalia had been downgraded to a tropical storm when it reached South Carolina Wednesday night.
@AnneTEmerson / WCIV ABC News 4

Idalia had made landfall at Keaton Beach in Florida at around 7:45 a.m. Wednesday, bringing with it 125 mph winds.

After pummeling Florida and Georgia with heavy winds and torrential rain, the center of the storm moved to just about 20 miles southwest of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Wednesday night.

As it arrived, the tide level in Charleston Harbor reached over 9.23 feet, according to the National Weather Service – making it the fifth highest peak tide since records began in 1921. Warnings had been in place for storm surges of up to four feet.

The tempest had been downgraded to a tropical storm at that point, but was still generating 60mph winds.  

Those strong gusts forced two drifting boats, a sailboat and a blue houseboat, to collide with the U.S. -17 bridges connecting downtown Charleston to West Ashley, the Post and Courier reported.

Police Capt. Jason Bruder said it was aware that multiple boats had been reported floating in the Charleston waterways, but said the police department could not deploy its own watercraft until conditions calmed down.

The Department of Natural Resources is in charge of recovering loose boats and would take the lead on recovering them, he added.


A police officer is pictured on a flooded street.
Idalia’s arrival in the state coincided with a king high tide, resulting in a breach of Charleston’s famed Battery district, which is known for its antebellum homes.
@TrooperBob_SC / ABCnews4

Main Street in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. was flooded  on Wednesday.
The center of the storm was located just about 20 miles southwest of Myrtle Beach.
AP

A flooded street is pictured.
Water was knee-high on streets surrounding Charleston’s famed Battery district.
@thekatiebyrne/ Twitter/ FOX Weather

Earlier on Wednesday, a tornado ripping through South Carolina ahead of the storm surge flipped a car onto its roof, leaving two people with minor injuries.

The black sedan was driving through torrential rain near Goose Creek, on the outskirts of Charleston, shortly after 2:30 p.m. when the twister lifted the car’s two back wheels and spun it on its hood.

Soon, the car’s front two wheels were also in the air before the car came crashing down on top of another vehicle.

Still, state officials say they were spared the brunt of Idalia’s wrath.

The National Weather Service lifted the tropical storm and storm surge warnings for much of the South Carolina coastline, including Charleston and communities farther south, at 2 a.m. Thursday. But as of 5 a.m., Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand remained under both warnings until later in the day. 

The situation was far worse in northern Florida, where one resident said “all hell broke loose.”


A coastal community in Charleston remained underwater Thursday morning.
A coastal community in Charleston remained underwater Thursday morning.
Katie Byrne / FOX Weather

A sheriff is pictured assessing the damage from the storm on one flooded road.
The National Weather Service lifted the tropical storm and storm surge warnings for much of the South Carolina coastline early Thursday morning.
Charleston County Sheriff’s Office

Authorities are pictured in the torrential rain as flooding began.
Charleston County Sheriffs Office tweeted this photo on Wednesday evening of the flooding, and urged people not to go out into the streets.

An aerial view of the storm.
Idalia is now headed toward North Carolina before it makes its way out into the ocean.
NOAA

Belond Thomas, of Perry – a small town just inland from Big Bend – said she and her family fled to a local motel, thinking it would be safer than riding out the storm at home.

But the roof at the motel was torn away in the high wind gusts, and debris showed onto her pregnant daughter.

Several homes throughout the area also remained underwater Thursday morning, even as the floods started to recede.

Hurricane Idalia batters Florida: Here’s what you need to know

Hurricane Idalia made landfall near Keaton Beach in Taylor County, Florida as a dangerous Category 3 storm early Wednesday morning August 30, 2023. It was briefly a Category 4 storm with winds reaching a brutal 125 mph. Idalia is the strongest storm to hit the Big Bend region since 1896.


Hurricane Idalia
Hurricane Idalia has battered Florida.

A woman wades through flood waters.
A woman wades through Florida flood waters after Hurricane Idalia struck.
Getty Images
  • 2 Florida men have died from Hurricane Idalia’s wrath.
  • Nearly 270,000 Floridians are without power as a result of the storm.
  • Several cities hit water level records as a result of the storm, Idalia pushed water up to 8.9 feet in Cedar Key.
  • Florida has been pounded by strong winds, reaching over 80 mph in some cities, heavy rains and flooding.
  • National Weather Service officials warn some areas “may be uninhabitable for several weeks or months.”
  • The most impacted areas include Taylor and Dixie counties.

Hurricane Idalia
Idalia is the strongest storm to hit the region in 125 years.
AFP via Getty Images
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency in 46 counties.
  • Hundreds of flights have been delayed or canceled as a result of the storm.
  • Thousands of National Guard troops have been deployed.
  • More than 40 school districts across the state have canceled classes.
  • Idalia weakened to a Category 2 storm by 9 a.m.

In Pasco County, just north of Tampa, roughly 6,000 homes were “inundated with water,” officials said.

“Many of them that we’re seeing have major damage,” Laura Wilcoxen, the county Emergency Management assistant director, told CNN.

“We have at least 18 inches or higher that have gone into these homes.”

More than 30,000 utility workers are trying to repair downed power lines and poles in the Sunshine State, and Florida Department of Transportation Sec. Jared Purdue said more than 700 crew members are using heavy equipment to reopen the roads, inspect bridges and restore power to traffic lights.


People ride though the flooded street near the Steinhatchee marina after hurricane Idalia hit in Steinhatchee, Florida.
People ride though the flooded street near the Steinhatchee marina after hurricane Idalia hit in Steinhatchee, Florida.
AFP via Getty Images

Aerial view of burned rubbles are seen where a house stood after a power transformer explosion in the community of Signal Cove in Hudson, Florida following the storm.
Aerial view of burned rubbles are seen where a house stood after a power transformer explosion in the community of Signal Cove in Hudson, Florida following the storm.
AFP via Getty Images

At the same time, state officials, more than 5,000 National Guardsmen and rescue crews are conducting search and rescue operations.

Urban search and rescue personnel have now sifted through roughly 75% of the areas hit by the storm, Florida Division of Emergency Management Executive Director Kevin Guthrie said at a news conference Wednesday night.

Secondary searches will now begin for the most heavily impacted areas to “ensure that those have been cleared and there’s nobody there.”

“We are not finding anybody at home,” Guthrie noted. “Many, many people heeded the warnings to evacuate and we, so far, have not had any reports of… fatalities related to any drowning or any flooding.”

The three deaths attributed to the storm so far have involved two car collisions in Florida, and one fatality after a tree fell on a resident in Georgia.

Still, in Florida’s Citrus County, Sheriff Mike Prendergast told CNN the hurricane’s effects will continue “to play out for a long time.”

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