Hurricane Ian: Death toll rises to 67 in Florida after storm leaves some communities ‘unrecognizable’, officials say



CNN

Days later Hurricane Ian Battered and shell-shocked residents of Florida are still assessing the damage left by storm surge, damaging winds and catastrophic flooding that left parts of the Sunshine State unrecognizable.

At least 67 people were killed in Florida as Ion swept away homes, destroyed roads and tore down power lines in his raging floods. Officials say four people have died in storm-related incidents in North Carolina.

Nearly 900,000 customers in Florida were without power as of early Sunday morning. PowerOutage.us. More than 30,000 people were without power in North Carolina.

Hurricanes – Expected to rank A very expensive storm IN FLORIDA’S HISTORY – Wednesday’s landfall weakened to a powerful Category 4 and weakened to a post-tropical storm on Saturday, bringing rain to parts of West Virginia and western Maryland.

As sunshine returned to Florida, many were struggling with Ian’s sobering aftermath: a power grid that could take weeks to repair, destroyed homes, damaged landmarks and lost loved ones.

The disaster spread from Florida’s coastal cities to inland cities like Orlando, but was felt most acutely in southwestern coastal communities like Fort Myers and Naples.

Crews have rescued more than 1,070 people from flooded areas in southwest and central Florida and 78 people were evacuated from a flooded nursing home as of Saturday morning, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office said. Press release.

The U.S. Coast Guard has navigated challenging post-storm conditions and conducted rescue missions, Rear Adm. Brendan McPherson told CNN.

“We fly and we operate in unrecognizable areas,” he said. “There are no street signs. They’re not what they used to be. The buildings that were once benchmarks in the community are no longer there.

Several Ian-related deaths were reported in Lee County, southwest Florida, including Fort Myers and Sanibel Island, where at least 35 people died.

Local officials are facing criticism over whether mandatory evacuations should have been issued sooner in Lee County. Officials there did not order evacuations until 24 hours before the storm made landfall, and a day after several neighboring counties issued their orders.

Saturday DeSantis Preserved the timing of Lee County’s ordersThat put the area in Ian’s crosshairs, saying they were delivered once the storm’s projected path moved south.

The storm’s toll in Florida includes 12 deaths in Charlotte County, eight in Collier County, five in Volusia County, three in Sarasota County and one each in Polk, Lake, Hendry and Manatee counties, officials said.

President Joe Biden continued to pledge federal support for Florida, saying Hurricane Ian “is likely to rank among the worst in the nation’s history.”

The president and first lady Jill Biden will travel to Puerto Rico on Monday to survey the damage Hurricane FionaThen head to Florida on Wednesday, according to a White House statement.

After Hurricane Ian completed its devastating march through Florida, residents emerged, inspecting damaged homes, picking up trash and maneuvering flooded roads.

The Florida National Guard joined local authorities in search and rescue operations across Southwest and Central Florida on Saturday, pulling victims from flood-hit areas and taking some to safety by helicopter, the governor said.

People on Sanibel and Captiva islands were cut off from the mainland after the storm destroyed parts of the land bridge, leaving boats and helicopters as the only means of escape.

Groups of citizen volunteers were working to help evacuate Sanibal Aerial pictures It showed that many of the cottages along the island’s shores had been destroyed.

Sanibel Island resident Andy Boyle was on the island when the hurricane hit. He said he lost his home and two cars but feels lucky to be alive.

“A lot of people have very expensive, well-built homes on Sanibel, and they feel like they’re built like multimillion-dollar castles, and they’re going to be fine,” Boyle said.

Boyle was riding out the storm at home when the dining room roof collapsed. “That’s when we started to worry,” he said.

He described waving a National Guard plane outside his home the next day and seeing scenes of devastation around the island.

“When you go to the east end of the island, there’s a lot of destruction. All the houses around the lighthouse are gone. When you go to the west end of the island, the old restaurants, they’re all gone. The street that leads to Captiva is now a beach,” Boyle said. .

The U.S. Coast Guard plans to evacuate Lee County’s Pine Island during daylight hours Sunday. Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

Residents were evacuated from Sarasota County’s Hidden River area after compromised waterfront homes threatened to flood, the sheriff’s office said Saturday.

A man reacts inside his destroyed trailer home after Hurricane Ian hit Matlacha, Florida, Saturday.

Further complicating the recovery is the lack of electricity and spotty communication in the affected areas.

It could take Sunday to a week before power is restored in storm-damaged counties, said Eric Szilagyi, president and CEO of Florida Power & Light. And some customers may not be back on the grid for “weeks or months” because some buildings with structural damage will require safety inspections.

According to PowerOutage.us, 65% of power outages in Florida due to the storm had been restored by early Sunday.

There is also Florida According to DeSantis, Elon Musk is working with the Starlink satellite to help restore communications in the state. “They are deploying Starlink satellites to provide good coverage in Southwest Florida and other affected areas,” DeSantis said.

Emergency responders in Lee County will be among those receiving StarLink devices.

Fort Myers Council Member Liston Bochette told CNN that the city has been hit hard because of “major problems” with the city’s water, power and sewer systems.

In Charlotte County, residents are “facing a tragedy” without homes, electricity or water supply, said Claudette Smith, public information officer for the sheriff’s office.

“We need everything, to put it plain and simple. We need everything. We need all hands,” Smith told CNN Friday. “The people who came to our aid were very helpful, but we need everything.”

Hurricane Ian could have caused up to $47 billion in insured losses in Florida, according to property analysis firm CoreLogic – making it the costliest storm in the state’s history.

After hitting Florida, Ian made its second landfall in the U.S. near Georgetown, South Carolina, on Friday afternoon as a Category 1 hurricane, and began battering the coasts of Georgia and the Carolinas with strong winds and rain.

In North Carolina, four storm-related deaths included a man who drowned when his truck drove into a flooded swamp; Two died in separate accidents; and died of carbon monoxide poisoning after running a generator in a closed garage, according to Gov. Roy Cooper’s office.

No deaths have been reported in South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster said Saturday.

Workers and owners of a large shrimp boat prepared to tow their vessel back into the water Saturday after it was washed ashore by Hurricane Ian off Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Homes and vehicles along the coast of South Carolina were submerged by the storm. Two piers – one on Pawleys Island and the other on North Myrtle Beach – partially collapsed as high winds pushed the water further up.

Edgar Stephens, who manages the Cherry Grove Pier in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, stood yards away as the ship plunged 100 feet into the sea amidships.

Stephens said Cherry Grove Pier is an important feature for community members and tourists.

“We’re a destination, not just a fishing vessel,” Stephens said.

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