At least 81 people have died in Florida, USA as a result of Hurricane Ian, according to local authorities.
Four other people were also reported dead from the storm in North Carolina, the governor’s office said.
The Category 4 storm slammed into Florida’s southwest coast Wednesday afternoon, causing catastrophic damage, high winds and dangerous, record-breaking storm surges.
The deaths span multiple Florida counties, including 42 in Lee County, 23 in Charlotte County, five in Volusia County, three in Collier and Sarasota counties, two in Manatee County and one each in Hillsborough, Lake and Hendry counties, News determined based on information from the Florida Board of Physicians and inquiries with local officials and authorities.
The death toll from the catastrophic storm is rising amid ongoing search and rescue missions.
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said more than 700 people had been rescued in the devastated county.
“It’s with a heavy heart that I say this number,” Marceno, whose district is home to hard-hit Fort Myers and the barrier island of Sanibel, said in a video posted on Facebook.
The causes of death in Florida were primarily drowning, as well as two traffic accidents and a roofing accident, officials said.
It’s unclear whether the state figure overlaps with reporters.
The state confirms a death by reviewing medical examiner’s records, which can take time.
The confirmed deaths from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement occurred in Lake, Sarasota, Manatee, Volusia and Collier counties between September 27 and 30. The victims ranged in age from 22 to 91 years old. One, a 68-year-old woman, drowned. after being swept into the ocean by a wave on September 29, the ministry said.
The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office was among the first to publicly announce Ian’s death. A 72-year-old Deltona man died after trying to drain his pool during a storm, authorities said Thursday.
The man, who has not been publicly identified, “disappeared” after he went outside, the sheriff’s office said. Deputies found him unresponsive in a canal behind a home and he was pronounced dead at a local hospital, the sheriff’s office said.
The storm made landfall again Friday in South Carolina, which has yet to report any deaths from the storm, Gov. Henry McMaster said Saturday.
Although four storm-related deaths were reported in neighboring North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement Saturday. On Friday, there were three traffic accidents with victims between the ages of 22 and 25. In addition, a 65-year-old man died Saturday of carbon monoxide poisoning after running a generator in his locked garage while the power was out.
The emergency response was largely halted Wednesday as the storm battered Florida with strong winds and heavy rain. Search and rescue operations were underway across the state on Thursday.
Florida Rep. Kathy Castor, who represents the Tampa Bay area, called the situation a “major disaster.”
“I’m afraid we’re going to be dealing with more loss of life than we anticipated,” she said Thursday on “ABC News Live.”
Florida Sen. Rick Scott told “Good Morning America” Thursday morning that “there are thousands of rescue efforts underway right now.”
“We have a great sheriff’s department, police department, fire departments, state rescue teams. They work hard. But there are a lot of people out there who need help right now,” he said.
He expressed concern over many low-lying areas of the state.
“Water kills and I’m just — I’m scared to death of what happened here and I hope everyone stays safe,” he said.
President Joe Biden spoke with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Thursday morning and told DeSantis that FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell will travel to Florida on Friday to review the response effort.
Sheriff Marceno told “Good Morning America” Thursday that they had thousands of 911 calls they were responding to.
“We still don’t have access to a lot of people who are in need,” Marceno said. “It’s a real, really rough road ahead.