Demise toll from Hurricane Ian anticipated to rise as search continues


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IONA, Fla. — Florida residents are grappling with widespread destruction and flooding within the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, some of the highly effective storms to ever hit the U.S. mainland, amid ongoing search efforts and a demise toll that has elevated to no less than 48.

In Iona, a small coastal neighborhood between Fort Myers and Fort Myers Seaside, residents started attempting to scrub out their houses Sunday because the floodwaters lastly receded, resulting in towering piles of soggy couches, mattresses and kitchen cupboards.

In a single predominantly Latino neighborhood, some residents have been packing their garments to dry them within the solar. Volunteers drove round passing out circumstances of water, but it surely appeared will probably be some time earlier than more-formal authorities help arrives.

“Everybody will keep right here, however we are going to clear up and put our stuff exterior,” stated Luis Hernandez, 33. “However now we have no water, no garments.”

As he helped his mother and father clear out their home, Rafael Martinez, 15, stated that the water rose so quick that “all the pieces received destroyed.” He and his household climbed atop a desk and chairs to attempt to keep above the water, he stated, including that he’s grateful that his household — and he believes all of his neighbors — survived the storm.

With a lot of the peninsula destroyed, neighborhoods all through Iona are on edge amid reviews and rumors of looting. Most shops and companies have been additionally broken by floodwaters.

Behind the native Publix grocery retailer, a number of toes of what gave the impression to be uncooked sewage was spreading in a drainage retention pond.

When he returned to a two-story business workplace that he owns, John Henson stated he discovered proof that folks had damaged into the constructing and had taken refuge on the second ground.

Initially, Henson assumed the elevated area had been used as an emergency shelter by somebody making an attempt to flee floodwaters. However then Henson realized gadgets have been additionally lacking from the constructing.

“They left their garments all in there, and gadgets hung up in there drying,” Henson stated. “That doesn’t trouble me. If somebody wanted shelter or meals, I’d give them each of those. However they stole stuff and tried to maneuver stuff from one room to a different … and broke and kicked doorways down for no purpose.”

Henson predicted that this a part of Fort Myers “ain’t ever going to be what it as soon as was.”

“You don’t even perceive how unhealthy it’s till you begin driving the aspect roads,” stated Henson, who lived close by on Shell Level. “It’s simply brutal on the market.”

The confirmed demise toll, now at 48, is anticipated to rise, as extra autopsies are accomplished and restoration efforts proceed. President Biden warned that Ian might be Florida’s deadliest hurricane ever.

Florida’s Medical Examiners Fee stated Saturday night time that the storm had prompted 44 deaths within the state, most of them from drowning. Most of the victims have been over 60 years previous. Our bodies have been discovered inside flooded vehicles, floating in waters and drowned on the seashore. That quantity is anticipated to develop as rescuers comb by way of particles and health workers conduct autopsies. There have been 4 storm-related deaths in North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) stated.

Officers stated 30 of the victims in Florida have been present in Lee County, which incorporates Fort Myers Seaside, Sanibel and Cape Coral. The county doesn’t have working water, and almost 70 % of it’s with out energy.

Discover aerial pictures of Hurricane Ian’s injury to the Florida coast

Biden and first woman Jill Biden are planning to journey to Puerto Rico on Monday and to Florida on Wednesday to tour hurricane injury, the White Home introduced late Saturday night time.

Throughout the southwest and central areas of the state, about 800,000 houses and companies remained with out energy on Sunday afternoon, in response to In North Carolina, greater than 16,000 clients are with out energy.

In the meantime, a number of bridges have been destroyed, complicating rescue efforts. The causeway to Sanibel, a 12-mile barrier island, was rendered impassable, chopping off the island from the mainland.

In Punta Gorda, 25 miles north of Fort Myers, Johnny Riggs and his household have been ready inside a makeshift shelter on Saturday night time for the facility to return to their house in close by Port Charlotte.

Riggs, 73, stated he evacuated together with his daughter and granddaughter simply earlier than Ian made landfall, going to a shelter close to their condominium. When the rain ended, they returned house, discovering little injury.

However the lack of energy within the area made it onerous to remain. Meals contained in the fridge was spoiling and there have been few eating places and shops open within the space.

Worse, the constructing not had working water, he stated. After three days, the household left the condominium Saturday morning and checked right into a shelter arrange inside a highschool gymnasium that’s a part of the Babcock Ranch deliberate neighborhood.

“We’d been utilizing bottled water to flush the commode however now that’s all gone,” Riggs stated, ending up a free spaghetti dinner whereas his daughter, Courtney Riggs-Johnston, and granddaughter Trevlyn, 14, rummaged by way of containers of donated clothes.

With lengthy strains of vehicles exterior the few fuel stations that also had gasoline and several other roads nonetheless closed due to flooding, “I really feel like we’re going backwards,” Riggs stated.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) instructed ABC Information’s “This Week” that Sanibel might be uninhabitable for the foreseeable future. “I feel our precedence now could be to determine the folks that stay on Sanibel who needed to remain there, however finally have to come back off as a result of there’s simply no method to proceed with life there,” Rubio stated, including that it’ll take “a few years no less than” to rebuild the bridge.

Rubio stated the whole injury was extra devastating than something he may recall in Florida historical past. “Fort Myers Seaside not exists. It’ll must be rebuilt,” he stated. “It was a slice of previous Florida which you can’t recapture,” he stated.

Talking on the identical program, Federal Emergency Administration Company Administrator Deanne Criswell stated emergency staff are “nonetheless actively within the search and rescue section” and going “by way of each house to be sure that we don’t go away anyone behind.”

Residents should be vigilant to keep away from the post-storm risks that may typically trigger extra accidents and fatalities than the storm itself, Criswell stated in a separate look on “Fox Information Sunday.”

“Standing water brings with it all types of hazards. It has particles. It may have energy strains,” she stated. She additionally cautioned residents to pay attention to dehydration and the danger of coronary heart assaults.

A number of company on the Sunday morning reveals have been additionally requested concerning the want for stricter constructing codes.

“After this, we’re going to be taught that we’re going to have to enhance our — proceed to enhance our constructing codes,” stated Florida Sen. Rick Scott (R), talking on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Criswell echoed the sentiment on the identical present, stressing that Florida wanted to make sure that “as we rebuild, we rebuild extra resilient,” and {that a} key a part of doing so can be stronger constructing codes.

There might be some resistance to overhauling the state’s constructing rules, regardless of a historical past within the state of taking comparable measures, corresponding to after the catastrophe wrought by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

“We’ve good constructing codes,” insisted Kevin Anderson, the mayor of Fort Myers, which was one of many areas hardest hit by Hurricane Ian, additionally talking on “Face the Nation.”

“The newer houses, they withstood the storm,” he argued, as proof that the constructing codes governing newer building have been adequate. “The older homes, which have been constructed decrease and lower than present codes, they suffered extra injury.”

The severity of the storm has prompted a deluge of aid efforts, together with federal catastrophe aid that might give Floridians as much as $37,900 for house repairs or misplaced property, along with their insurance coverage.

Criswell defined Sunday that there are additionally Small Enterprise Administration funds accessible for households, in addition to Division of Housing and City Improvement applications, that affected residents ought to be capable of entry.

Residents of Sanibel have been instructed to evacuate earlier than the storm, however questions have been raised about how lengthy officers in Lee County took to make evacuation choices amid unsure forecasts.

On Sunday, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno forcefully defended the response.

“I’m going to let you know, I stand one hundred pc with my county commissioners, my county supervisor,” Marceno stated throughout a information convention. “We did precisely what we needed to do.”

He stated there was no delay in issuing evacuations. “The second that we may and may subject that order, we did,” he stated, including that now could be the time to give attention to the folks in want.

Criswell on Sunday additionally defended Lee County officers, saying that the county “wasn’t even within the hurricane path” simply 72 hours earlier than the storm made landfall.

“As quickly because the storm predictions have been that it was going to affect Lee County, I do know that native officers instantly put the suitable measures in place to be sure that they have been warning residents to get them out of hurt’s manner,” Criswell stated on “Fox Information Sunday.”

Main flooding can also be anticipated to proceed by way of subsequent week throughout parts of central Florida, inflicting extra destruction and posing an extra problem to cleanup and rescues. Already, the storm is estimated to have prompted greater than $60 billion in property loss in Florida.

Floridians hit by hurricane face gridlock, flooding, intensive injury

Main flood warnings have shut down roads stretching from the Kissimmee River to St. Johns River watersheds in central Florida. The Nationwide Climate Service is anxious that locations together with East Lake Tohopekaliga and Lake Tohopekaliga may have extra flooding within the coming days, resulting in extra waterlogged areas downstream for inland areas corresponding to Orlando.

The Myakka River, reaching a report excessive, washed over Interstate 75, closing the foremost freeway earlier than it was reopened Saturday afternoon. Officers are persevering with to observe the river’s ranges.

Water has already inundated buildings as far north as houses in Astor close to St. Johns and south as a retirement neighborhood in Kissimmee, exterior of Orlando.

Olivo reported from Sarasota, and Whalen, Demirjian and Kornfield reported from Washington. Amy B Wang in Washington and Matt Brown in Atlanta contributed to this report.


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