Hundreds of dead are already feared as historical Hurricane Ian continues to wreak havoc in Florida, with the death toll expected to rise, a sheriff in the state’s hardest-hit region announced Thursday.
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said: “Good morning america” that the megastorm is “a life-changing event for all of us”, before adding “I definitely know that the deaths are (confirmed) in the hundreds”.
“This is a life-changing event for all of us,” Sheriff Marceno told GMA. ”
I don’t have confirmed numbers, I definitely know the deaths are in the hundreds,” he added.
“So far, confirmed in the hundreds.”
Storm is ‘life-changing event for all of us,’ says Florida Sheriff of Hurricane Ian
Marceno noted that conditions were still too dangerous for his department and other rescue teams to fully access the extent of the damage. He said “there are thousands of people waiting to be rescued.”
“There are thousands of people waiting to be rescued. And again, we can’t get a real assessment until we’re on the scene assessing every scene, and we can’t access people, that’s the problem,” she said.
The sheriff also warned that rescuers “will see things they’ve never seen before,” referring to mass drownings, according to the New York Post.
Storm still too strong for rescue teams to fully survey damage, mass drowning feared
Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlai said late Wednesday that the hurricane was still “too strong” for officials to begin rescue work, calling his community “decimated” by the storm.
“We’re starting to get the sense that our community has been, in some ways, decimated,” he said that night.
More than 80 percent of the region was still without power as of Thursday, according to County Commissioner Kevin Ruane, which equates to more than 2.5 million people statewide, the Post reports.
“My heart goes out to them,” Ruane said of those trapped. “We will try to help them as soon as we can. We will get to them.”
President Joe Biden Declares Major Disaster in Florida as Record Flooding Devastates Sunshine State
President Joe Biden declared a major disaster in Florida to enable federal aid throughout the state, including hard-hit areas like Lee County.
“Damage assessments continue in other areas, and additional areas may be designated for assistance once assessments are fully completed,” the White House announced.
The White House emergency declaration came as Hurricane Ian was downgraded to a tropical storm early Thursday, however it could once again turn into gale-force winds as “record flooding” cripples the region.
“Life-threatening surge hazard” to persist through Friday in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina
Wind speeds reached more than 155 mph, just two mph before it became a Category 5 storm, as flood images showed entire areas submerged in water Thursday morning.
A hospital emergency room was shown with water running through it, as well as local TV station WINK, which was photographed with three feet of water covering its newsroom floor, according to the Post.
The “danger of a life-threatening surge” will persist through the rest of Thursday and Friday in Florida, as well as parts of Georgia and South Carolina, according to a 5 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center.
the shadow room reported yesterday that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis warned state residents that it was too late to safely evacuate if they hadn’t already.