Hurricane Idalia left a wave of destruction across Florida as residents dashed to evacuate and hundreds of thousands were left without power. Winds reached up to 130 mph as the hurricane battered the northern regions of the Sunshine State before moving on to cause havoc in Georgia and the Carolinas.
The category four hurricane first made landfall on August 30 with 125 mph winds damaging buildings and infrastructure in the Keaton Beach area. Flooding forced the closure of bridges in the north of the state, and in Pasco County, around 2,000 homes were destroyed. A falling tree hit the Governor’s mansion in Tallahassee, but no injuries were reported.
Authorities issued an emergency flash flood order in Valdosta, Georgia, where power lines came down and closed the Interstate 75 – one man was killed. Flooding and tornadoes caused damage and injury in the Carolinas, but there were no fatalities.
President Biden visited Florida on September 2 to assess the damage, but Republican Governor Ron DeSantis did not meet him. “As I’ve told your governor, if there’s anything your state needs, I’m ready to mobilize that support,” the President said. Drone footage in the aftermath revealed entire neighborhoods buried under water as the full impact became clearer in the early days of September.
In a bizarre scenario, the hurricane reportedly resulted in a strange migration of birds as flamingos were spotted as far north as Ohio. Sightings of the glamorous pink birds are relatively rare in Florida, but large numbers showed up after the storm. Jerry Lorenz of the bird research group Audubon Florida believes they were carried to the US by high winds. They’ve been sighted in Georgia, Virginia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Alabama, and Ohio.
“We will get a flamingo or two following storms, but this is really unprecedented. We have never seen anything like this,” Mr. Lorenz said. Flamingos are an icon in Florida, but the state is home to only around 1% of the global population.