Florida keeps counting its dead after Ian

Florida keeps counting its dead after Ian

Florida on Saturday continued to see the heavy toll, already amounting to several dozen deaths, from the passage of Hurricane Ian, which was expected to dissipate over the next night after causing flooding in South Carolina.

• Also read: Storm Ian, now in South Carolina, has killed at least 23 people in Florida

• Also read: Hurricane Ian: Human remains rise to the surface in a Florida cemetery

Florida authorities on Saturday brought the provisional toll on 25 victims, most of whom drowned and the vast majority of whom were elderly.

Hurricane-hit Lee County alone has recorded 35 deaths, according to its sheriff, while US media, including NBC and CBS, have reported more than 70 deaths directly or indirectly related to the storm.

The controversy swelled on Saturday over the late arrival of evacuation orders for more than 600,000 residents in that county, accounting for half of the confirmed victims.

The order would have been issued Tuesday morning while neighboring counties ordered their residents to evacuate on Monday, the New York Times says.

“No one tells us what to do”

Sitting in the shadow of an abandoned house in Matlacha, Chip Farrar grows increasingly angry. “Nobody tells us what to do. Nobody tells us where to go,” he told AFP.

“The evacuation orders came very late,” says the 43-year-old. “But most of the people who are still here wouldn’t have gone anyway. It’s a very work place. And most people have nowhere to go, that’s the biggest problem,” he adds.

At the same time, the search found sixteen passengers on a migrant boat that capsized near the Keys archipelago on Wednesday due to bad weather.

The Coast Guard said they found two people from the boat dead in the water, with nine others rescued either offshore or after swimming ashore.

After devastating Florida, Ian made his way to South Carolina, where it made landfall near Georgetown on Friday afternoon as a Category 1 hurricane with winds up to 90 mph, according to the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC).


On Saturday afternoon, Ian carried winds up to 35 km/h in what was still “heavy rain” across the Appalachian Mountains in the southeastern United States, the NHC said in its latest bulletin.

Despite the expected slowdown, several state officials continued to urge caution due to the expected heavy rains.

More than 500,000 homes and businesses in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia were without power as of Saturday noon, according to specialist website poweroutage.us.

Florida still had nearly 1.2 million homes and businesses without power.

In addition to the high rate of casualties, the amount of material damage on the peninsula is “historic,” according to Gov. Ron DeSantis that the magnitude caused by the rising waters was unprecedented.

Streets and homes were flooded and boats moored in marinas were thrown ashore by the storm. On Friday, authorities in Kissimmee, near Orlando, crossed the flooded areas in boats to rescue residents trapped in their homes.

years to rebuild

In this state, “we are just beginning to appreciate the extent of the destruction” that is “probably among the worst” in United States history, President Joe Biden said.

“Reconstruction will take months, years,” he lamented.

In the coastal city of Fort Myers, dubbed the “epicenter” by Ron DeSantis, a handful of restaurants and bars had reopened and dozens of people sat on patios, offering residents a semblance of normalcy amid fallen trees and shattered facades.

“It was pretty awful, but we persevered. The roof of our house blew off, a big tree fell on our cars, our yard was flooded, but otherwise everything is fine,” said Dylan Gamber, 23, welcoming the solidarity that was felt among neighbors.

According to initial estimates, the passage of Hurricane Ian could cost insurers tens of billions of dollars and weigh on American growth, particularly through flight cancellations and damage to agricultural production.

1,100 people saved

More than 1,100 people have been rescued in the state so far, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office said on Saturday morning.

Rainfall associated with Hurricane Ian has increased by at least 10% due to climate change, according to a first rapid study by American scientists released Friday.

“Climate change didn’t cause the hurricane, but it did make it wetter,” said one of the scientists involved in the study, Michael Wehner of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which is part of the Department of the Environment.

Ian struck Cuba off Florida, causing three deaths and extensive damage, leaving many houses without power there as well.