At least 21 people were confirmed dead early Friday in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, and emergency management officials in the US state of Florida expect that the number to rise drastically.
Officials said a man died after he fell in his home and was not able to escape the rising floodwaters. Another man died while trying to drain his pool.
Several vehicle deaths were also reported throughout the state.
“People die in disasters that have nothing to do with a disaster,” said Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie at a news conference. “The medical examiner is the one… to determine when they investigate that this is either disaster-related or not disaster-related. If it is determined to be disaster-related… it is a direct death. In other words, storm surge, rising water, things of that nature, or indirect, the stuff that led up to it after the fact.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis said emergency responders have rescued more than 700 people stranded due to the catastrophic floodwaters. Thousands more are waiting for help.
“There are over 1,000 dedicated rescue personnel who are going up and down the coastline,” DeSantis said at a news conference. “You see the really troubling images of washed-out homes on the Fort Myers beach and that really is ground zero and obviously very important, but this was such a big storm that there are effects far inland and these rescue personnel are sensitive to that and they’re going to be helping.”
Nearly 2 million households are still without power and early damage estimates in Florida are estimated between $25 and $45 billion with that number expected to rise as the damage is properly assessed in the days and weeks to come.
However, Ian is far from being finished with its destructive path. The storm is now a Category 1 hurricane and is on track to make its way through Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina on Friday and Saturday.
Hurricane and tropical storm-force winds in addition to heavy rains and storm surge are expected along the Atlantic coast.
“Hurricane #Ian will bring with it the danger of life-threatening storm surge today along the coasts of the Carolinas within the Storm Surge Warning areas,” tweeted the National Weather Service. “Hurricane #Ian has a very large wind field that will bring strong winds to a broad area for many hours.”
Source: Anadolu Agency