Updated Sept. 29, 2022, 3:35 PM EDT
By NBC News
President Joe Biden on Thursday said Hurricane Ian may have been responsible for "substantial loss of life" and could end up being the deadliest storm in Florida history.
More than 2.5 million customers across Florida were without power Thursday morning after Ian, now a tropical storm, walloped the state as one of the most powerful storms to ever hit the United States, causing widespread devastation and flooding that trapped residents in their homes.
Ian was downgraded to a tropical storm Thursday morning after slamming into Florida’s southwest coast as a major Category 4 hurricane Wednesday afternoon, bringing winds of 150 mph and life-threatening storm surge.
Maximum sustained winds dropped to near 65 mph with higher gusts early Thursday, but the storm has continued to cause destruction as it moves northeast. Its center is expected to move off the east-central coast of Florida later Thursday before approaching the coast of South Carolina on Friday.
Biden on Thursday declared a major disaster in Florida over the devastation caused by Ian. The president ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in areas affected by the storm starting Sept. 23 and onward, the White House said.
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