See dramatic photos of Hurricane Ian's widespread damage across Florida
( CBS )
Floridians woke up to devastating scenes Thursday morning after Hurricane Ian, one of the strongest storms ever to hit the U.S., caused widespread destruction across the state's west coast.
The storm, which made landfall as a powerful Category 4 hurricane Wednesday, flooded numerous buildings and streets, ripped off roofs, left people trapped in their homes and knocked out power to millions of residents. Ian was downgraded to a tropical storm early Thursday, but forecasters warned that the threat of "catastrophic" flooding would continue as the Ian moves east. It was expected to move across the Carolinas this weekend.
Authorities were still assessing the situation in Florida, but the following photos offer a glimpse of the damage.
One of the hardest-hit cities was Fort Myers, which is just north of where Ian made landfall. Photos show numerous boats damaged by the hurricane's massive storm surge as well as inundated roads and buildings.
Punta Gorda, a small city and county seat of Charlotte County, woke up Thursday to heavy flooding, collapsed buildings and its streets covered by debris and downed trees.
The hurricane also destroyed a major chunk of the Sanibel Causeway, which connects Sanibel Island to the Florida mainland, cutting off access to the barrier island where about 6,400 people normally live.
Flooding rains from Tropical Storm Ian slammed central Florida on Thursday. In Orlando, first responders helped evacuate a nursing home as floodwaters rose.