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Hurricane Ian knocks out power to ALL 11m people in Cuba after hitting Caribbean island

Dozens of Cuban migrants are missing after a boat they were on capsized off the coast of Florida as the Sunshine State is inundated with 155mph winds.

As the hurricane gained traction in the Gulf of Mexico, it took down a boat carrying Cubans to the United States.

Four people managed to swim ashore to Florida’s Stock Island, Chief Patrol Agent Walter Slosar, of the U.S. Border Patrol’s Miami Sector said, according to BNO News.

But 23 people on board the boat are still missing. The United States Coast Guard is now initiating a search and rescue operation in the area ahead of the storm. 

Hurricane Ian has already devastated the communist Caribbean island, knocking out power to all 11 million of its residents and tearing down decades-old infrastructure. Power was just beginning to be restored to some consumers Wednesday afternoon – a full day after the ‘total fall’ of the island’s grid.

‘Restoration work in Cuba’s National Electric System (SEN) has made it possible to recover 224 megawatts (MW), and restore service to a part of consumers in 12 provinces of the country,’ according to a statement released by the state on Wednesday.

The storm is now slamming into Florida, where it is expected to cause even more damage with windspeeds just shy of a Category 5 status.

A family watched along the waterfront as a huge wave crashed against the seawall in Havana, Cuba on Wednesday

Storm surges continued to pound Havana, Cuba on Wednesday, even after the eye of the storm passed

Storm surges continued to pound Havana, Cuba on Wednesday, even after the eye of the storm passed

The hurricane struck the island early Tuesday morning, devastating the nation's crumbling infrastructure

The hurricane struck the island early Tuesday morning, devastating the nation’s crumbling infrastructure

The Cubans’ desperate escape came as the entire island was without power on Wednesday, after Hurricane Ian pummeled the country with 125 mph winds before becoming even more powerful as it approaches Florida.

Ian made landfall in Cuba’s Pinar del Rio Province as a Category 3 storm early Tuesday, destroying the country’s profitable tobacco and banana farms and leaving two residents dead as buildings collapsed around them.

It devastated the Communist island nation, where infrastructure has been crumbling over the past few decades and the electrical grid has been faltering for months with blackouts an everyday occurrence for many. 

At first, the storm knocked out power to about 1 million people before wiping out the entire power grid and leaving all 11.3 million residents without electricity, the Electricity Union reported.

The state electric company Union had earlier said they would turn off power in the capital Havana to avoid electrocutions, deaths, and property damage while the island waited out the anticipated storm. 

It was the first time in memory – perhaps ever – that the whole island had lost power.

The entire island of Cuba was without power after Hurricane Ian pummeled the country with 125 mph winds on Tuesday

The entire island of Cuba was without power after Hurricane Ian pummeled the country with 125 mph winds on Tuesday

At first, the storm knocked out power to about 1 million people before wiping out the entire power grid and leaving all 11.3 million residents without electricity. People are seen here playing dominoes by flashlight on Wednesday

At first, the storm knocked out power to about 1 million people before wiping out the entire power grid and leaving all 11.3 million residents without electricity. People are seen here playing dominoes by flashlight on Wednesday

The Union announced Wednesday that the process to restore power will be slow, even as the Energy and Mines Ministry said it had restored energy to three regions

The Union announced Wednesday that the process to restore power will be slow, even as the Energy and Mines Ministry said it had restored energy to three regions

Residents were forced to walk through the streets with the help of a phone flashlight on Wednesday

Residents were forced to walk through the streets with the help of a phone flashlight on Wednesday

he state electric company Union had earlier said they would turn off power in the capital Havana to avoid electrocutions, deaths, and property damage while the island waited out the anticipated storm

he state electric company Union had earlier said they would turn off power in the capital Havana to avoid electrocutions, deaths, and property damage while the island waited out the anticipated storm

‘The system was already operating under complex conditions with the passage of Hurricane Ian,’ Lazaro Guerra, technical director of Cuba’s Electricity Union, said Tuesday night, adding: ‘There is no electricity service in any part of the country right now.’ 

The Electricity Union announced Wednesday that the process to restore power will be slow, even as the Energy and Mines Ministry said it had restored energy to three regions by activating two large power plants in Felton and Nuevitas.

Soon after, lights started to flicker on in the capital, Havana, but much of the city and other parts of western Cuba were still left in the dark as residents had to use flashlights and candles to light their homes.

Hurricane Ian is now barreling towards Florida, with winds just shy of a Category 5 storm

Hurricane Ian is now barreling towards Florida, with winds just shy of a Category 5 storm

It is expected to slam into the Tampa area over the next several hours, as the city is already feeling the effects of the storm

It is expected to slam into the Tampa area over the next several hours, as the city is already feeling the effects of the storm

In preparation for the devastating storm, Cuban officials set up 55 shelters in the rural Pinar del Rio Province, evacuated 50,000 people and took steps to protect crops in the nation’s main tobacco-growing region.

They also cut power to the entire province of about 850,000 residents, according to Reuters, and state-run media reported that farmers had secured 33,000 tons of tobacco from prior harvests.

But their efforts were not enough, with the U.S. National Hurricane Center reporting that Cuba suffered ‘significant wind and storm surge impacts’ when it struck.

As the eye of the hurricane moved into the Gulf Wednesday, scenes of destruction emerged from Cuba’s tobacco-belt, where the strong winds ripped metal roofs off homes and buildings throughout the region.

Videos on social media showed downed power lines and cut off roads in the provinces of Pinar del Rio, Mayabeque and Artemisa , which reported that 40 percent of its banana plantations had been damaged by the storm. 

The owner of the premier Finca Robaina cigar producer posted photos on social media of wood-and-thatch roofs smashed to the ground, greenhouses in rubble and wagons overturned.

‘It was apocalyptic, a real disaster,’ wrote Hirochi Robaina, grandson of the operation´s founder.

Mayelin Suarez, a street vendor who sells ice cream in the provincial capital, also called the night of the storm’s passage the ‘the darkest of her life.’

‘We almost lost the roof off our house,’ Suarez told Reuters, her voice trembling. ‘My daughter, my husband and I tied it down with a rope to keep it from flying away.

And Andy Muñoz, 37, who lives in Playa Cajío in Artemisa said many people in his town lost their belongings in the storm, with Mercedes Valdés, who lives along the highway connecting Pinar del Río to San Juan y Martínez, saying her new masonry and zinc roof were torn down by the heavy winds.

‘We couldn’t rescue our things … we just ran out,’ she said. 

The U.S. National Hurricane Center reported that Cuba suffered ‘significant wind and storm surge impacts’ when Ian struck on Tuesday. People are seen here walking through a flooded street in the city of Batabano

Some residents lost the roofs of their homes as the storm devastated the decades-old infrastructure. People are seen here assessing the damage outside their home on Tuesday

Some residents lost the roofs of their homes as the storm devastated the decades-old infrastructure. People are seen here assessing the damage outside their home on Tuesday

Havana was also hit hard by the storm with workers unclogging storm drains and fishermen taking their boats out of the water to try to protect themselves from the flooding. A man is seen here walking through a flooded street in the nation's capital

Havana was also hit hard by the storm with workers unclogging storm drains and fishermen taking their boats out of the water to try to protect themselves from the flooding. A man is seen here walking through a flooded street in the nation’s capital

One woman in Pinar del Rio, the center of the storm, points to the damage in her roof, above the second story

One woman in Pinar del Rio, the center of the storm, points to the damage in her roof, above the second story

Photos posted online show fallen utility poles and branches, making roads in  Cuba impassable

Photos posted online show fallen utility poles and branches, making roads in  Cuba impassable

Even some trees were pictured underwater after Hurricane Ian made landfall early Tuesday morning

Even some trees were pictured underwater after Hurricane Ian made landfall early Tuesday morning

People are pictured trying to clean a street in Consolacion del Sur, as the storm passed on Tuesday

People are pictured trying to clean a street in Consolacion del Sur, as the storm passed on Tuesday

Local government station TelePinar, meanwhile, reported heavy damage at the main hospital in Pinar del Rio city, tweeting photos of collapsed ceilings and toppled trees 

At least two deaths were reported in the province: a woman killed by a falling wall and another by a collapsed roof.

Havana was also hit hard by the storm with workers unclogging storm drains and fishermen taking their boats out of the water to try to protect themselves from the flooding. 

On Wednesday, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel visited the affected region, telling the population, ‘Although the first impact is very painful, there’s nothing to do but overcome the adversity.’ 

‘Being in the hurricane was terrible for me, but we are here alive,’ said Pinar del Rio resident Yusimí Palacios, who asked authorities for a roof and a mattress.

The island nation remains under a Tropical Storm Warning on Wednesday as Ian barrels toward the United States with windspeeds just shy of a Category 5 storm.

The 'monstrous' storm has sucked all the water from around Tampa Bay as the that the Category 4 storm is inching closer to the Floridian coast as winds hit 155mph

The ‘monstrous’ storm has sucked all the water from around Tampa Bay as the that the Category 4 storm is inching closer to the Floridian coast as winds hit 155mph

Ivan Mendoza is pictured trying to repair damage to his mobile home in Davie, Florida before the storm strikes

Ivan Mendoza is pictured trying to repair damage to his mobile home in Davie, Florida before the storm strikes

Gary and Sharon Adams clear their yard of debris in Hollywood, Florida on Wednesday, where residents say a tornado touched down overnight ahead of Hurricane Ian

Gary and Sharon Adams clear their yard of debris in Hollywood, Florida on Wednesday, where residents say a tornado touched down overnight ahead of Hurricane Ian

Meanwhile, huge waves and a ‘catastrophic’ storm surge has hit the southwest Florida coast as the ‘extremely dangerous’ eye wall of Hurricane Ian moves onshore – lashing the state with up to 12 inches of rain. 

The ‘monstrous’ storm has sucked all the water from around Tampa Bay as the that the Category 4 storm is inching closer to the Floridian coast as winds hit 155mph. 

Charlotte Harbor is bracing for the brunt of the water levels, and could see between 12 to 18ft of surge storm as the eyewall continues to move across the state. 

Gov. Ron DeSantis has now warned that the storm is ‘knocking on the door’ of a Category 5 storm and ordered Floridians to prepare for ‘major impact’ ahead of making landfall with winds hitting 155pmh. 

DeSantis warned those in Collier, Charlotte and Sarasota county that it was ‘too late’ to leave and urged anyone still out on the roads to get to a ‘safe place as soon as possible.’

He added that Ian was ‘knocking on the door’ of a Category 5, and confirmed that 300,000 homes have already been reported across the state. 

Parts of Fort Myers have already been flooded, with the beach currently underwater as stronger rainfall and winds are set to hit. 

Wind gusts were so strong on Wednesday they sent traffic lights swinging in Fort Meyers, Florida

Wind gusts were so strong on Wednesday they sent traffic lights swinging in Fort Meyers, Florida

SARASOTA: Arthur Perkins walks his two dog as the winds and rain from Hurricane Ian arrived in the area

Arthur Perkins walks his two dog as the winds and rain from Hurricane Ian arrive in the area

A pickup truck drives around fallen debris and palm trees in the Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa ahead of Hurricane Ian making landfall

A pickup truck drives around fallen debris and palm trees in the Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa ahead of Hurricane Ian making landfall

Pictures show water receding from Tampa Bay, due to the movement of the approaching hurricane, as the same phenomenon happened just before Hurricane Irma hit. 

Tampa is bracing for 6ft storm surge before landfall this afternoon, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis telling those who have remained in the red evacuation zones that it is  time to ‘hunker down’ and ‘prepare for the storm’. 

Ian appears on track to slam ashore somewhere north of Fort Myers and some 125 miles south of Tampa, sparing the bay area from a rare direct hit from a hurricane. 

The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for four counties, including Sarasota and Manatee, which will be in effect until 5pm on Wednesday. 

Officials have warned that the storm surge could reach 18ft, with deadly winds and flooding along the state’s heavily populated Gulf Coast from Bonita Beach to the Tampa Bay region –  with rainfall reaching 18 inches.

Damages are expected to reach $45billion as the storm continues to grow in strength, as more than two million Floridians have been urged to evacuate.

Two people have already been rushed to hospital after a tornado hit an apartment building for people who are 55 years or older in Kings Point, Delray Beach, on Tuesday evening.

And the Florida Power and Light Company has reported 17,255 outages across several counties in Florida, as DeSantis confirmed that 300,000 properties have been left without power. 

In Broward, there were more than 6,700 outages while there were 5,700 outages in Miami-Dade.

KINGS POINT: Emergency services are battling to keep people safe as the storm is intensifying and likely to cause more than $45billion in damage

Emergency services are battling to keep people safe as the storm is intensifying and likely to cause more than $45billion in damage

The Category 4 storm is nearing Category 5 hours before it is set to make landfall in Florida, with Tampa is bracing for a 6ft storm surge before landfall this afternoon

A TV crew battle the elements as they broadcast from the beach at Fort Myers, braving the heavy rain at the coast line

SARASOTA: A police officer drives by an empty street as Hurricane Ian approaches in Sarasota, Florida, which is expected to get a major hit

A police officer drives by an empty street as Hurricane Ian approaches in Sarasota, Florida, which is expected to get a major hit

The predicted storm surge is expected to cover the majority of Cape Coral and Fort Myers, with thousands of buildings expected to be underwater.   

Parts of Georgia and South Carolina also could see flooding rains and some coastal surge into Saturday. 

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp preemptively declared an emergency, ordering 500 National Guard troops onto standby to respond as needed. 

 DeSantis, who invoked a statewide state of emergency Sunday, has prepared 30,000 workers on standby to help once Florida’s power grid inevitably topples in Ian’s wrath.

He said in a news conference on Tuesday that ‘safety is paramount’ for anyone in the state, and warned those on the north coast and gulf coast that they could be hit hardest by the ‘different’ storm. 

He added: ‘Mother nature is a very fearsome adversary, please heed those evacuation warnings. You could see power outages, inland flooding, various types of tree damage from wind so be prepared for that.’ 

More than one million homes along Florida’s west coast are at risk of storm surge damage from Hurricane Ian.

The storm will move slower along the coast, maintaining high speed winds, which means that the rainfall and gale-force winds will stay in the same areas for longer. 

Schools in 26 districts across Florida have announced that they will be closed, with some shutting their doors on Tuesday, and all remaining closed through to Friday.

Universities and Florida Colleges are also closing their doors in an attempt to protect the students from the storm.

Florida on verge of Category 5 monster storm: Hurricane Ian is set to explode into 157mph+ winds, rip trees from their roots and tear apart houses 

Category 2

Sustained winds of 74-95 mph 

Very dangerous winds will produce some damage: Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roof, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters. Large branches of trees will snap and shallowly rooted trees may be toppled. Extensive damage to power lines and poles likely will result in power outages that could last a few to several days.

Category 3 

Sustained winds of 96-110mph

Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage: Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads. Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks.

Category 4 

Sustained winds of 111-129mph

Devastating damage will occur: Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.

Category 5 

Sustained winds of 130-156mph

Catastrophic damage will occur: Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

Sustained winds of 157mph or higher

Catastrophic damage will occur: A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

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