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Ian has weakened to a tropical storm, continues to pummel Florida

Flooding is the “biggest concern” in Orange County, the county’s public safety director Danny Banks said on Thursday that, adding that there is a possibility “of up to 24 inches of rain in the county.”

“We have numerous neighborhoods, specifically in Orange County right now, that our fire department is working aggressively to evacuate,” Banks said during a briefing. “We have seen likely somewhere between 10 and 16 inches of rain in Orange County already and we anticipate more rain as we progress through the hours today.”

Last night, the fire rescue department went into neighborhoods responding to calls, and there are “over a dozen” specific neighborhoods in Orange County that the fire rescue department is in helping residents who are experiencing flooding. 

Currently, there are nine neighborhoods in the county that the fire rescue team is working in to evacuate residents, according to Banks, and “very soon” that team will be supported by the Florida National Guard. 

“You can expect within the hour to see National Guardsmen working directly with our fire rescue teams as they enter those neighborhoods and try to help people get out,” he said. 

Shelters have “plenty of capacity” and continue to house more than 1,000 people, according to Banks. That number is expected to go up today. 

“We did see some people, including people in our special needs shelters, that started to go home this morning but to replace those we have more people that are evacuating from the flood-impacted areas of the neighborhoods,” he said. 

As power companies continue doing assessments, there are approximately 200,000 to a quarter million homes without power, according to Banks. 

“We’ll have a more accurate update, I think, within the next couple of hours as to exactly how much power,” he said. 

Banks said while they are still in the impact phase, they “are quickly transitioning into the response.” 

“There are literally thousands of first responders now in the streets of Orange County, rescuing people where needed and responding to calls for help,” he said.

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