State Watch

Death toll in Florida rises to 47 amid Hurricane Ian recovery efforts

The bridge leading from Fort Myers to Pine Island, Fla., is heavily damaged in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. Due to the damage, the island can only be reached by boat or air. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

The death toll from Hurricane Ian has grown to 54 people, including 47 in Florida, The Associated Press reported.

Authorities also confirmed four deaths in North Carolina and three in Cuba from the Category 4 storm that brought dangerous storm surges, wind and flooding across Florida and other areas.

“It’s really, really incredible the amount of flood that we’re seeing,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said at a news conference on Saturday.

The storm made landfall on Florida’s Gulf Coast on Wednesday, but many areas across the state saw major flooding and power outages due to Ian’s large size.

More than 1.2 million people remained without power in Florida as of Saturday, with crews having already restored more than 1.4 million accounts since the storm.

DeSantis’s office said law enforcement has conducted more than 1,110 rescues. 

The Florida National Guard and the Coast Guard are also landing helicopters on barrier islands for search and rescue operations. Bridges to some coastal islands, including Sanibel Island, were destroyed in the storm, preventing residents from fleeing.

DeSantis activated more than 5,000 National Guardsmen from Florida, with assistance from up to 2,000 National Guardsmen from other states.

With many areas facing cell service and connectivity issues, DeSantis on Saturday also announced that Starlink units created by Elon Musk’s SpaceX would be distributed to impacted regions to improve communications. Thirty units will be delivered to Lee and Charlotte counties, which faced the brunt of Ian’s impact as it made landfall on Florida’s Gulf Coast near Fort Myers.

President Biden will visit Florida on Wednesday, The White House announced late Saturday.

Tags Biden Florida Hurricane Ian Hurricane Ian Ron DeSantis
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