The tragic death toll from Hurricane Ian’s historic assault on Florida is expected to soon surpass 50, officials said Saturday.

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno, who oversees flood-ravaged Fort Myers, said the number of confirmed deaths reached 35 in his jurisdiction alone.

Confirmed fatalities, ranging in age from 22 to 92, occurred across at least six Florida counties, while another death was reported by local authorities outside Raleigh, North Carolina.

With assistance pouring into Lee County from around the state and country, Marceno said more than 600 stranded survivors were rescued from their homes so far.

Sporadic reports of storm-related deaths trickled in from across the Sunshine State, and authorities said the toll will continue to climb as recovery efforts progress.

Rescue crews were going door-to-door in hard-hit regions, including battered islands that are largely cut off from the mainland.

Hurricane Ian ravaged boats and structures in Fort Myers Beach, Florida.
Hurricane Ian ravaged boats and structures in Fort Myers Beach, Florida.

A child runs under a fallen tree in Charleston, South Carolina.
A child runs under a fallen tree in Charleston, South Carolina.

Damaged and missing homes are seen in the wake of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla. (
Dozens of homes were swept away from Hurricane Ian’s floodwaters in Fort Myers Beach, Florida.

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter takes off from a home on Sanibel Island, Florida.
A US Coast Guard helicopter takes off from a home on Sanibel Island, Florida.

Airborne rescuers hovered over wrecked areas in Sanibel Island and Captiva to scan for anyone waving from their roofs, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Brendan McPherson told NBC’s Today Show Saturday morning.

With more than 1.1 million Floridians without power, many who need assistance still have no means of communication to request help.

“The good news is that we saw fewer cases of people who were in need of immediate medical assistance and more people who were just stranded,” McPherson said.

FEMA USAR South Florida Task Force 2 rescue team members evacuate John Van Fleet, who has a very swollen right leg, on the island of Fort Myers Beach.
FEMA USAR South Florida Task Force 2 rescue team members evacuate John Van Fleet, who has a very swollen right leg, on the island of Fort Myers Beach.

Project DYNAMO crews survey the island during their rescue operations of residents.
Project DYNAMO crews survey the island during their rescue operations of residents.

University of Central Florida students evacuate an apartment complex near the campus that was totally flooded by rain from Hurricane Ian.
University of Central Florida students evacuate an apartment complex near the campus that was totally flooded by rain from Hurricane Ian.

The power outages were concentrated along Florida’s hard-hit southwest coast, particularly in Lee and Charlotte counties, as well as inland Hardee County, where rivers and streams continued to swell long after the storm departed.

Sanibel Mayor Holly Smith said that Ian’s bludgeoning left her once idyllic island uninhabitable.

“We are informing the residents that this is a long term recovery process,” she told Fox. “This is not a place that is habitable at this time and likely won’t be for a while.”

All told, the storm could total $63 billion in insurance claims, risk-modeling firm Karen Clark & Co. estimated — the largest such loss in Florida history.

President Biden tweeted Saturday morning that the storm wreaked historic damage.

“Our hearts break for the folks whose lives have been devastated by this storm,” he wrote. “We are with you. And we’ll stay at it for as long as it takes.”

Florida Gov Ron DeSantis, in Fort Myers as he traversed the state to assess the damage, announced that Elon Musk’s SpaceX is sending 120 Starlink systems to boost internet access in regions hit hardest by the storm.

“They’re positioning the Starlink satellites to provide good coverage to Southwest Florida and other effected areas,” DeSantis said, adding that Musk had “donated all the costs associated with the coverage.”

In related news:

  • Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody asked all prosecutors to apply pre-trial detention to all suspected looters to keep them from raiding after being released. “We have seen instances where folks are going into homes to try to burglarize them,” Moody said – hours after tough-talking DeSantis warned would-be looters, “we’re a Second Amendment state.”
  • Vice President Kamala Harris was sharply criticized after commenting Friday that “communities of color” would receive “resources based on equity” — putting them in line for hurricane relief. “Should be according to greatest need, not race or anything else,” tweeted Musk, the world’s richest man.
  • Ian, which weakened significantly as it moved inland over North Carolina and Virginia, was downgraded to a tropical rainstorm Saturday with peak sustained winds of 35 miles per hour.





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