Rescue workers with Tidewater Disaster Response wade through a tidal surge on SW 358 Highway while looking for people in need of help after the Steinhatchee River flooded on Wednesday, Aug 30, 2023, in Steinhatchee, Fla., following the arrival of Hurricane Idalia. (AP)

Hurricane Idalia makes landfall as Category 3 storm in Florida, causes damages

Hurricane Idalia made landfall Wednesday in Florida as a Category 3 storm and unleashed devastation along a wide stretch of the Gulf Coast, submerging homes and vehicles, turning streets into rivers, unmooring small boats and downing power lines before sweeping into Georgia.

Almost 375,000 customers in Florida and Georgia lost power while rushing water covered streets near the coast. As the eye moved inland, high winds shredded signs, sent sheet metal flying and snapped tall trees.

Idalia came ashore in the lightly populated Big Bend region, where the Florida Panhandle curves into the peninsula. It made landfall near Keaton Beach at 7:45 a.m. as a high-end Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 125 mph (205 kph).

As of midday Wednesday, there were no confirmed storm deaths in Florida, although reports of fatal traffic accidents in two counties may end up being storm-related, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a news conference.

A 59-year-old man driving a pickup truck in heavy rain veered off the road outside Gainesville. In Dade City, north of Tampa, a 40-year-old man lost control of his pickup and crashed into a tree, authorities said.

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