MYERS FORT:Overwhelmed survivors were evacuated from a large barrier island that had been cut off by Hurricane Ian by rescuers. The death toll in Florida increased sharply as hundreds of thousands of people continued to be without power days after the monster storm struck the state’s southwestern coast and the Carolinas.
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The Category 4 hurricane, which was one of the strongest to make landfall in the United States, was strongest in Florida, where nearly four dozen deaths were reported.Many people were left without access to basic amenities like water, electricity, and the internet due to flood-damaged roadways and washed-out bridges to barrier islands. They also had limited access to cellphone service.
Saturday, Elon Musk, a multibillionaire businessman, provided 120 Starlink satellites to “help bridge some of the communication issues,” according to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.High-speed connectivity will be provided by Starlink, a satellite-based internet system developed by SpaceX under Musk’s leadership.
Power restoration was being worked on by Florida utilities.Nearly 850,000 homes and businesses were still without electricity as of Sunday morning, down from 2.67 million at its peak.
There were at least 54 confirmed deaths:Florida has 47, North Carolina has four, and Cuba has three.According to the National Hurricane Center, the weaker storm had moved north on Sunday and was expected to cause flash flooding in parts of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and southern Pennsylvania.
While flying to Florida, Daniel Hokanson, a four-star general and head of the National Guard, told The Associated Press that more than 1,000 people were rescued from flooded areas along Florida’s southwestern coast alone.
The White House announced in Washington on Wednesday that President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden would travel to Florida.However, no additional information about the planned visit was provided in the brief statement.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s administrator, Deanne Criswell, the federal government has been concentrating on providing assistance to Florida victims in need.
She stated to “Fox News Sunday” that the federal government began to preposition the “largest amount of search and rescue assets that I think we’ve ever put in place before” to supplement the state of Florida’s resources. These assets included Coast Guard, FEMA search and rescue, and personnel from the departments of Interior and Defense.
The storm destroyed the bridge to Pine Island, the largest barrier island off Florida’s Gulf Coast, making it only accessible by boat or air.Medic Corps, a group of volunteers that sends pilots, paramedics, and doctors to natural disasters around the world, went door to door asking residents if they wanted to be evacuated.
People described the horror of being trapped in their homes as the water continued to rise, and some evacuated by helicopter.
Joe Conforti, fighting back tears, said, “The water just kept pounding the house and we watched, boats, houses – we watched everything just go flying by.”He claimed that they wouldn’t have made it if his wife hadn’t suggested they get up on a table to avoid the rising water:Because there is no way you are going to survive that when the water is at your door, splashing on the door, and you can see how quickly it is moving, I started to lose my sense of smell.
Occasionally, river flooding posed a significant obstacle to rescue and supply delivery efforts.A portion of Interstate 75 was washed over by the Myakka River, causing the highway to be closed to traffic for a while before authorities announced that it might be reopened later on Saturday.
Tyler Fleming, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, stated that although swollen rivers have crested or are close to cresting, the levels are not anticipated to significantly decrease for several days.
Pawleys Island, a beach community in South Carolina that is approximately 75 miles (115 kilometers) up the coast from Charleston, was also severely affected.Saturday saw at least half of the island without power.
Eddie Wilder, who has been visiting Pawleys Island for more than six decades, described it as “insane” to witness waves as high as 25 feet (7.6 meters) destroying a significant pier near his residence.
He stated, “We saw the pier disappear as we watched it hit the pier.”We watched it fall apart and watch it float by carrying an American flag.”
The interior of Wilder’s house, which was 30 feet (9 meters) above the shoreline, remained dry.
The storm brought down power lines and trees in North Carolina.Two of the four deaths in the state were caused by car accidents caused by the storm, while another man drowned when his truck fell into a swamp and another died from carbon monoxide poisoning from a garage generator.
The storm surge brought several boats and a dock onto the shore at the Port Sanibel Marina in Fort Myers, Florida.Ryan Kane, a charter captain, stated that his vessel was so badly damaged that he was unable to assist in rescues, and that he will not be able to take clients fishing again for a long time.
“The hull has a hole in it.The motors were soaked with water.Everything needed water, he said, adding,Boats ought to be in the water, not in parking lots, as you know.”
Unlike other counties in the region, Lee County officials issued an evacuation order on Tuesday.
On Sunday, Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson responded to accusations that Lee County officials had been tardy in issuing evacuation orders prior to the storm.
“The hurricane warning season begins in June.As a result, there is some personal responsibility involved.I believe the county did the right thing.On the CBS show “Face the Nation,” Anderson stated, “The thing is, a certain percentage of people will not heed the warnings regardless.”
Separately, DeSantis stated on Friday that Lee County officials acted appropriately when models began to center on the county and noted that numerous forecasts placed Ian’s landfall north of the county.
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