Hurricane Ian death toll rises above 80, response criticised | Weather News
The federal government plans massive aid as local officials in the hardest-hit communities defended evacuation orders.
The death toll from Hurricane Ian in the southeastern United States rose to 80 as some officials faced criticism for their response to the storm.
At least 85 hurricane-related deaths have been confirmed since Ian made landfall on Florida’s Gulf Coast on Wednesday It is a Category 4 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 249 kilometers per hour (155 mph).
Florida accounted for all but four of the deaths.
The sheriff’s office in coastal Lee County, which includes the devastated Fort Myers, said it had counted 42 deaths, with 39 deaths reported by officials in neighboring counties.
Officials in Lee County have faced questions about whether they requested a timely evacuation.
Cecil Pendergrass, chairman of the county’s council of commissioners, said Sunday that an evacuation order was issued as soon as the direction of the storm became clear. Even then, some people chose to weather the storm, Pendergrass said.
“I respect their choice,” he told a news conference. “But I’m sure a lot of them regret it now.”
Deanne Criswell, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said the federal government planned to roll out a huge amount of aid, focusing its attention on Florida first. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden will visit the state on Wednesday.
Criswell told Fox News Sunday that the federal government, which includes the Coast Guard and the Department of Defense, has moved into the position of “having the largest amount of search and rescue assets I think we’ve ever booked before. “.
However, she warns that dangers remain.
“We see a lot more people injured and sometimes more dead after the storm,” Criswell said. “Standing water carries all sorts of dangers – it has debris, it can have power lines.”
Authorities in North Carolina said at least four people were killed there. No deaths were immediately reported in South Carolina, where Ian made another US landing on Friday.
Islanding inland since then, Ian has subsided into a hurricane following a weakening tropical cyclone, but water levels have continued to rise in some flooded areas, flooding homes and streets with possible flooding. passed just a day or two earlier.
The National Hurricane Center forecast possible heavier rainfall across parts of West Virginia and western Maryland on Sunday morning, and “record major flooding” in central Florida.
As the full scale of the devastation becomes more apparent, officials say some of the heaviest damage has been caused by wind-driven waves hitting coastal communities and washing away buildings.
Satellite images from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show beach cottages and a vacation home along the coast of Florida’s Sanibel Island destroyed in storm surge. Although most of the houses appear to be still standing, the damage to the roof is obvious.
Surveys from the ground show that the breakwater island, a popular tourist getaway, home to about 6,000 people, has been devastated.
“It’s all gone,” said Sanibel’s city manager, Dana Souza. “Our electrical system is pretty much destroyed, our sewers are badly damaged and our public water supply is being evaluated.”
The National Guard and Coast Guard flew helicopters to the islands to rescue people after Sanibel’s only bridge to the mainland collapsed.
More than 700,000 businesses and homes remained without power on Sunday afternoon in Florida alone, where more than 2 million customers lost power on the first night of the storm.