Ian Aftermath: 5 dead in NC; many face cleanup after storm lashes the Carolinas

CHARLOTTE — While what was left of Hurricane Ian made its way towards the northeastern United States, many in the Carolinas awakened Saturday morning to power outages, flooding, debris swept into the ocean and fallen trees.

In an update Tuesday afternoon, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper reported five storm-related deaths in the state:

  • A 25-year-old man died Friday when he lost control of his car in Johnston County and hydroplaned into another vehicle in stormy conditions.
  • A 24-year-old woman died when her vehicle went off a wet road in Clayton, hitting a tree Friday afternoon
  • A 22-year-old man drowned in Martin County when his truck left the road, sumberging in a flooded swamp Friday night
  • A 65-year-old man in Johnston County died Saturday from carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator running in his closed garage while the power was out. His wife was hospitalized, the news release said.
  • A 24 year old man was driving in Moore County when he hydroplaned off the road and hit a tree.

“The storm has passed, but many hazards remain with downed trees, downed power lines and power outages,” Cooper said. “We mourn with the families of those who have died and urge everyone to be cautious while cleaning up to avoid more deaths or injuries.”

The powerful storm is already estimated to be one of the costliest hurricanes to ever hit the U.S.

Overnight, President Joe Biden approved a disaster declaration for the state of North Carolina. The move helps expedite FEMA’s response to the state and provides federal money to help in the recovery. Biden already approved a declaration for South Carolina on Thursday.

Hundreds of thousands wake up without power

Across North Carolina, around 332,000 people woke up without power Saturday morning. Nearly 12,000 of those customers live in Mecklenburg County.

Duke Energy crew members were staged with their equipment at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, where about 4,000 customers didn’t have power Saturday morning. The company said it had 10,000 crews on standby across the Carolinas who would work to restore power after Ian.

Logan Kureczka with Duke Energy explained to Channel 9′s Hannah Goetz how those restoration efforts work.

“But generally, how we approach it is that some of the critical infrastructures -- so like our hospitals, police stations -- we want to make sure those are restored first,” Kureczka said. “After that, we move on to our transmission lines, which are the big lines that you would see along the highways, because those carry the power from our power plants to our substations, which feed it out to our customers. And so after we make sure those are all in good working order, we’re going move on to our distribution lines, which are the lines you might see in your neighborhood.”

By Saturday evening, the number of power outages had decreased to around 200. Channel 9s’ Glenn Counts spoke with families in east Charlotte who were unfortunately a part of that select few.

“Very frustrating. I am waiting patiently, impatiently for it to come back on,” resident Keesha James told Counts.

Resident Annetta Wall said her main issue wasn’t the power going out, it was the timing. She said she had just rented a generator when her power turned back on.

“We got over here and hooked it up, transferred the food to another freezer and made sure everything was cold. Then the lights came on. I’m thankful the lights came on, I just wish it had come on a little bit sooner before I rented the generator,” Wall said.

While Duke Energy has been ahead of schedule with a lot of the restoration, some customers will not get power until late Sunday.

Trees fall, creeks flood in Charlotte; airport sees cancellations, delays

Channel 9′s Anthony Kustura was in northeast Charlotte Saturday morning tracking the damage the storm left behind.

Rutgers Avenue, just off West Sugar Creek Road, was still closed after a tree knocked down power lines Friday. The lines were left hanging in the air and the tree had crashed onto a car.

One neighbor told Channel 9 utility crews told him he might not get power restored until Sunday.

Some of those living near creeks and streams saw flooding from the storm, like Stewart Creek in Seversville Park which flooded its banks.

Ian canceled or delayed hundreds of flights through Charlotte Douglas International Airport. On Friday, 315 flights were canceled and 204 delayed. Saturday morning saw at least 41 flights canceled and 24 delayed.

The Charlotte Fire Department said it responded to 108 storm-related emergencies starting at 3 p.m. Thursday. While firefighters don’t know how many people were displaced, they said the calls they received were for trees that fell on homes, power lines and across roadways.

South Carolina coast battered by storm surge after Ian makes landfall

Hurricane Ian made landfall in Georgetown, South Carolina Friday afternoon, just north of Charleston.

In North Myrtle Beach, Cherry Grove Pier collapsed into the ocean during the storm surge. The waves, which reached 20 feet, ripped boards from the pier before it collapsed. It was one of five piers in the Myrtle Beach area that Ian damaged or destroyed.

In Charleston Saturday morning, people faced a cleanup mission after seeing devastating flooding from Hurricane Ian. Several inches of rain fell, flooding many of the town’s streets. The wind knocked down several trees and branches and ripped up some roofs too.

Skip Yeomans was visiting from Mississippi and staying at a hotel in the area. He said the hotel owners were able to evacuate them after the building was damaged.

“They just came up -- and there was five of us in the lobby -- they came up and said ‘we’re going to have to evacuate you over to the Embassy Suites, it’s our sister hotel,’ everything was fine,” he said. “They got us over here, they brought cars up, loaded everything up, brought us over here, I mean they couldn’t be any nicer.”

How to help

This weekend, you can can help communities recover in the aftermath of Ian. OneBlood is holding a blood drive at Charlotte Motor Speedway Saturday. Donors will get two free tickets to the Bank of America Roval 400 as a thank-you.

Organizers are rushing to replenish Florida’s blood supply after they were hit by the hurricane.

The blood drive is Saturday from 10 p.m. to 5 p.m. Click for details.

If you’d like to help the victims of Hurricane Ian in Florida, click here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


(WATCH BELOW: Videos, photos shared online show effects from Hurricane Ian)

Hannah Goetz

Hannah Goetz, wsoctv.com

Hannah is a reporter for WSOC-TV.

Jonathan Lowe

Jonathan Lowe, wsoctv.com

Jonathan is a reporter for WSOC-TV.