After Hurricane Ian pummeled Florida’s west coast, it caused a transformer in Manatee County to explode on Wednesday. A bystander caught the explosion on camera at 5:45 p.m. near a residence in Whitfield Estates.
The now-viral clip, taken by resident Ruth Soto, showed the transformer sparking and exploding brightly. At the same time, the Winter Haven Police Department posted a video taken by a fire crew that showed sparks exploding on a road.
“If anyone doubts the danger of this storm, this is just one incident,” Winter Haven police wrote in the video’s caption. In addition, people reported seeing a trampoline flying in front of the fire truck just before someone took that video.
On Wednesday, Hurricane Ian’s intense winds were so powerful that its winds were just a few miles per hour shy of turning it into a Category 5 storm as it hit the sunshine state. As a result, its ferociousness affected the state’s power grids.
By midday on Wednesday, the storm’s eyewall began moving onto land at Sanibel and Captiva islands. In addition, before 2:30 p.m., more than 660,000 Floridians were without power. In less than 24 hours, that number skyrocketed to more than 2.6 million, although that figure saw a slight decline by 10 a.m.
Flordia lineman and crews being to restore power following Hurricane Ian’s destruction
During a press conference on Thursday morning, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said that the southwestern area had 2.02 million reported outages alone as of 6 a.m., with just seven counties making up more than 1.5 million.
“Lee and Charlotte are basically off the grid at this point,” DeSantis admitted, adding that linemen and crews were beginning to rebuild but that it’s going to be more work than just “connecting a power line back to a pole”. “[Their] reconnects are really going to likely have to be rebuilding of that infrastructure.”
Additionally, nearly every resident in Hardee County also appears to be without power as of 10 a.m. Half the residents in several neighboring counties, including Manatee, Sarasota, Collier, Highlands, and Glades, were without power.
Later, reports of power outages continued to pop up north along the Gulf Coast, extending to the far northeast corner of Florida. Now downgraded to a tropical storm, Ian has begun its path up along the U.S. East Coast, where it’s expected to wreak havoc on the Carolinas.
Southeast Florida, which also saw major power outages on Wednesday, has recovered mostly, according to reports.
State officials have been warning for days of the potential power issues. However, Ian has been unrelenting on its course, disrupting power to all of Cuba when it hit the island on Tuesday, although power in some areas has since been restored.