Death toll from Hurricane Ian rises to 47 in Florida

Members of search a home in Pine Island. (Photo: AP)

Late Saturday night, Florida authorities verified several additional deaths, bringing the state's death toll from Hurricane Ian to at least 47, and the global death toll to at least 54.

The state's medical examiners prepared and released a list of the deceased, which included multiple drowning deaths and individuals found submerged or drifting in storm waters.

Earlier in the week, Ian blasted into the southwestern Gulf Coast of Florida as a Category 4 hurricane before crossing the peninsula out over the Atlantic Ocean and then slamming the US Southeast seacoast as a Category 1 hurricane. Four further storm-related fatalities were confirmed in North Carolina, while three were recorded in Cuba.

Dozens of Florida residents evacuated their flooded and shattered houses by boat and by air on Saturday, as rescuers continued to seek lives in the wake of the hurricane and South Carolina and North Carolina authorities began assessing their losses.

The death toll from the storm, one of the greatest hurricanes in terms of wind speed to ever strike the United States, rose to nearly thirty, with fatalities reported in Cuba, Florida, and North Carolina. The hurricane weakened as it swept toward the mid-Atlantic on Saturday, but not before it destroyed bridges and piers, hurled big boats into onshore buildings, and stripped roofs from homes, leaving hundreds of thousands without electricity.

At least 35 individuals were reported killed, including 28 in Florida, the majority of whom drowned due to Ian's sad aftermath. Authorities report that an elderly couple died after their oxygen devices cut off when the electricity went off.

Daniel Hokanson, a four-star general and the leader of the National Guard told The Associated Press while en route to Florida that more than 1,000 people had been rescued from flooded areas along Florida's southern coast.

Chris Schnapp was waiting at the Port Sanibel Marina in Fort Myers to hear if her 83-year-old mother-in-law had been evacuated from Sanibel Island. Schnapp's mother-in-law was not among the travelers from the island who had just arrived in a pontoon boat with their luggage and animals.

"On the island, she remained. There, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law own two enterprises. They evacuated the area. She did not wish to leave "Schnapp claimed. She stated that she was uncertain whether her mother-in-law was still on the island or had been taken to a shelter.

On Pine Island, the largest barrier island off Florida's Gulf Coast, buildings were reduced to splinters, and boats littered streets as a volunteer rescue organization went door-to-door Saturday asking isolated inhabitants whether they want evacuation. Residents reported the terrifying experience of being trapped in their homes as the water continued to rise.

Joe Conforti fought back tears as he remarked, "The water just kept pounding the house and we watched, boats, houses — we watched everything just go flying by," He stated that he would not have survived if his wife had not suggested they get on a table to escape the rising water: "I started to lose sensibility because when the water's at your door and it's splashing on the door and you're seeing how fast it's moving, there's no way you're going to survive that."

Occasionally, river floods constituted a formidable obstacle to rescue and supply delivery attempts. On Saturday, the Myakka River flooded a portion of Interstate 75, resulting in a traffic-clogging closure. This is a vital route connecting Tampa in the north to the hard-hit southwest Florida region encompassing Port Charlotte and Fort Myers. Later on Saturday, state officials reported that water levels had receded sufficiently for I-75 to be reopened in its entirety.

Meteorologist of the National Weather Service in Tampa, Florida, Tyler Fleming, stated that the rising water levels in the southwestern Florida rivers have crested or are close to cresting and won't drop considerably for several days.

Pawleys Island, South Carolina, a beach community approximately 185 kilometers north of Charleston, was among the areas hardest damaged. Saturday, power was still out for at least half of the island.

Eddie Wilder, who has visited Pawleys Island for over six decades, described the hurricane on Friday as "insane." According to him, waves as high as 25 feet (7.6 meters) wiped out the local pier, a notable landmark.

"We watched it hit the pier and saw the pier disappear," said Wilder, whose 9-meter-high home remained dry inside. "We watched it crumble and watched it float by with an American flag."

At least four piers along the coast of South Carolina were demolished by strong winds and rain, including the Pawleys pier. In the meantime, the Intracoastal waterway was littered with boathouses ripped from their pilings.

John Joseph, whose father constructed the family's beige beach house in 1962, was ecstatic to return from Georgetown, which received a direct hit, on Saturday. His Pawleys Island home was completely undamaged.

"Thank God these walls are still here, and we feel very blessed that this is the worst thing," he added of the sand that has swept under his residence. "What took place in Florida – may God bless us. If a Category 4 storm had occurred, I would not be here."

The hurricane in North Carolina took four lives and primarily brought down trees and electrical lines, leaving over 280,000 people in the state without electricity on Saturday morning, according to officials. Several hours later, while technicians tried to restore electricity, the number of power outages decreased significantly.

Two of the deaths in North Carolina were attributed to storm-related vehicle accidents, while officials reported that one man drowned when his truck rolled into a marsh and another died from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a generator in a garage.

Saturday, charter boat skipper Ryan Kane surveyed the damage to two boats at the Port Sanibel Marina in Fort Myers. The storm surge drove several vessels and a wharf ashore. He stated that his boat was destroyed, preventing him from rescuing others. Now, he stated, it would be quite some time before he would once again be chartering fishing clients.

"The hull contains a hole. It absorbed water in its motors. It soaked everything," he stated, adding, "You should know that boats go on the water, not in parking lots."

Publish : 2022-10-02 12:47:00

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