As emergency personnel and government officials started the drawn-out process of recovery from one of the greatest storms in Florida history, the death toll in the state kept rising.
According to reports from the state’s medical examiners, the storm, which made landfall earlier this week near Fort Myers in Lee County as a Category 4 hurricane, has killed at least 24 people as of Saturday. The number of fatalities has been reported in the media to be as high as 50, and it will undoubtedly rise.
More than 1,300 search and rescue personnel, including five teams from outside the state, according to state officials, were searching for survivors on Saturday. According to state officials, search and rescue crews saved roughly 700 individuals on Friday. Six fixed-wing aircraft, 18 boats, and 16 helicopters, according to President Joe Biden, were sent out during the mission, which was described during a briefing on the hurricane on Friday.
Numerous counties had extensive damage as a result of the storm. In hard-hit Fort Myers, Hurricane Ian brought tremendous water and gusts of up to 150 mph, destroying some city blocks. Due to flooding from a neighbouring river, a 14-mile section of Interstate 75 in Sarasota County remained blocked on Saturday.
The southwest coast of Sanibel Island was particularly badly impacted, with storm surges measuring between 8 and 15 feet. Access to the neighbourhood was severely restricted due to heavy damage to the main 3-mile causeway leading to the island. Earlier, Gov. Ron DeSantis claimed that barges were bringing large pieces of machinery to the island to aid in the removal of debris.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, South Atlantic Division commander, Brigadier General Daniel Hibner, stated on Saturday that the organisation stationed a survey vessel close to the Sanibel region to evaluate operational and navigational restrictions “to have a better understanding of what we’re up against.”
Even while the number has drastically decreased from the 2.6 million who were without power at the height of the storm, more than 1.3 million homes and businesses were still without electricity on Saturday.
Eric Silagy, chair and CEO of Florida Power & Light, stated on Saturday that “we still have a long way to go.” The largest utility company in the state is Florida Power & Light.
Hurricane On Friday, Ian touched down in South Carolina close to Georgetown, a city located roughly 60 miles north of Charleston. As it proceeded north, Ian finally lost strength and became a post-tropical cyclone.
Following the storm, patients from ten hospitals along Florida’s Gulf Coast were being evacuated, some of whom were in places where local authorities had mandated evacuation. Although many of the state’s more than 200 hospitals are hurricane-tested, Florida Hospital Association President and CEO Mary Mayhew emphasised the challenge of evacuating ill patients from facilities.
Evacuating patients is quite disruptive, according to Mayhew.