Ian's death toll grows as enormous rescue attempts in Florida continue.

Top Officials in Florida reported Friday that the death toll from Hurricane Ian has risen to 21, as search and rescue crews continue to wade through hundreds of wrecks in search of survivors.

Ian's death toll grows as enormous rescue attempts in Florida continue.
Orange County Fire Rescue personnel make their way through a flooded area while assessing properties in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian on September 29 in Orlando, Fla.  Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP Photo

So far, the state has done over 700 rescues with the assistance of federal and local authorities, and has made contact with 3,000 people who remained in place throughout the huge storm. Search and rescue workers are still looking for other persons who may have become trapped by the water. Admiral Linda Lee Fagan of the United States Coast Guard said on MSNBC Friday that rescuers are going home to house in certain places, utilizing a grid system to guarantee no one is missing.

In one especially harrowing scenario, a rescue diver in an unidentified area came across a house with water on its roof. According to Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie, there seemed to be "human remains" inside, but officials won't be able to confirm anything until the flood waters recede.

"We want to be truthful, but we just don't know that number," Guthrie said of deaths.

Some 1.9 million people remain without electricity, primarily in southwest Florida, which was worst struck. On Wednesday, the hurricane made landfall in Fort Myers in Lee County, bringing with it catastrophic floods and severe winds. The storm proceeded east into the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday and made landfall at Georgetown, South Carolina, on Friday. On Friday, President Joe Biden talked with South Carolina GOP Gov. Henry McMaster and announced an emergency declaration for the state.

"When you see some of these atrocities, like a house fully wiped out and it's nothing but a concrete slab on Ft. Meyers beach, you just pray to God no one was in that," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a hurricane briefing this morning.

According to state officials, as of Friday morning, there were 12 deaths in Charlotte County thought to be related to the hurricane, eight in Collier County, and one in Polk County. Officials would not comment on the potential number of fatalities in Lee County, where reports on Thursday indicated that at least five people perished as a result of the storm.

Carmine Marceno, the sheriff of Lee County, predicted on "Good Morning America" early Thursday morning that deaths "are in the hundreds" in his region. On Thursday, Biden also stated that preliminary indications indicate a significant loss of life. DeSantis, on the other hand, has sought to dismiss that likelihood, staying optimistic that search and rescue operations would yield survivors.

Video Source : Politico

"You have a knot in your throat because you don't know what's going to happen," DeSantis said of Marceno's prediction. "I believe it was done out of care for the well-being of the residents of Lee County, as well as concern for the destruction caused by this storm."

Storm Ian made landfall in Florida as a Category 4 hurricane on Wednesday, unleashing 150 mph winds and producing what DeSantis called as a "500-year flood event." During the storm, at least 15,000 individuals sought refuge in place. More than 2.5 million people were ordered to evacuate before the storm made landfall.

During a press conference on Friday, Biden stated that six fixed-wing planes, 18 rescue boats and personnel, and 16 rescue helicopters are all involved in the rescue efforts.

"We're only now beginning to comprehend the scope of that devastation." "It's likely to be one of the worst in the country's history," he added. "It will take months, if not years, to reconstruct."

According to DeSantis, one of the state's top priorities as of Friday is working with federal and local officials to fix the water main break in Lee County. Because of the water main damage, no water is now reaching the county's 750,000+ citizens. The US Army Corps of Engineers is anticipated to play a crucial role in making this happen. 

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell is in Florida with DeSantis to survey the damage and provide assistance. Biden, who spoke with DeSantis via phone on Friday, is also planning a trip to Florida.

Biden designated Ian a major disaster on Thursday, allowing more state help and private assistance to victims of numerous counties. According to Criswell, the feds will soon add more counties to the list.

"FEMA is here right now to help these ongoing efforts to continue the lifesaving operations that are still occurring, but also to begin to support the recovery mission," Criswell said during a briefing on Friday morning.

Ian produced near-Category 5 winds on Florida's southwest coast, as well as torrential rainfall and storm surges that topped 10 feet in some places. The storm's fury and tremendous rainfall will be felt over most of Florida.

As of Friday, Florida had examined and reopened an estimated 800 bridges, including those in high-priority locations in the southwest, according to DeSantis. The state is clearing roads and establishing staging zones for local residents to acquire food and water. Fuel is being transported to the state, but electricity remains a problem on the coast.

According to DeSantis, there were 1.9 million people without power in Florida as of 6 a.m. Friday, down from 2.5 million reported Thursday evening.

Hardee County is nearly entirely powerless, while Charlotte and Lee counties are seeing 85 percent outages. DeSoto County has over 80% of its consumers without power, while Sarasota, Collier, and Manatee counties have approximately 50% of their electricity operational.

Some schools that had been closed due to the hurricane reopened on Friday, including those in Miami Dade and Broward counties on the southwest coast. Several school districts, however, will stay closed at least until Friday due to power outages and anticipated floods.

Schools in Lee, Charlotte, and Collier counties may be closed for an extended period of time. Due to outages, Lee County officials are unable to update the school system website.

Video Source : Politico

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas stated on Friday that the federal government had dispatched "thousands" of employees to assist Florida, including FEMA, the cybersecurity infrastructure agency, and even the TSA.

"This is an all-government, all-community effort to meet the needs of a town that has been devastated by this disaster," Mayorkas said on Morning Joe.

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