At least 19 people were confirmed to have died in relation to Hurricane Ian, which has once again strengthened before making its way toward South Carolina on Friday (September 30), CNN reports reports.
Ian was downgraded to a tropical storm on Thursday (September 29) before strengthening back into a hurricane after reaching maximum sustained winds of 85 MPH, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Ian was reported to be located about 145 miles south-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina and moving at 9 MPH early Friday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center. The hurricane is expected to hit the coast at some point later on Friday, however, the exact time it will make landfall has not yet been determined.
The National Hurricane Center warned that residents along the Carolina coast could face a "life-threatening storm surge and hurricane conditions," while flooding rains are also expected throughout the Carolinas and southwestern Virginia.
Ian is expected to move further inland across the Carolinas on Friday night and Saturday (October 1), according to the hurricane center.
Nearly 2 million Florida residents are still without power as of Friday morning, which includes just under 400,000 in Lee County, according to PowerOutage.us.
President Joe Biden declared a major disaster in Florida after Ian made landfall on Wednesday afternoon and ordered federal aid to help in state and local recovery efforts in areas directly affected, the White House confirmed in a statement obtained by NBC News.
Ian made landfall near Cayo Costa as a Category 4 hurricane with winds reaching up to 150 MPH, making it one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded in Florida, according to NBC News forecasters.
Lee County Mayor Roger Desjarlais said the county, which includes Cayo Costa, Fort Myers and Cape Coral, has been left with extensive damage in the aftermath of the hurricane.
Rescue crews were forced to wait until conditions improved before attempting to provide aid for victims stranded in high water, NBC News reports.
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said vehicles were reported to be "floating out into the ocean," but officials were unable to respond and investigate until winds fell to less than 45 MPH.
“Those that are in need: We want to get to you, and we will get to you as soon as possible," Marceno said in a video address shortly before 8 p.m. via NBC News.