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Hurricane Ian Death Toll Rises

National

The aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Matlacha, Florida. | Image by Getty Images

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Five days after landfall on Florida’s west coast as a Category 4 storm, leaving devastation in its wake, Hurricane Ian has a death toll that has continued to rise, with officials now counting dozens of victims.

A total of 103 deaths have been confirmed as a result of the storm on September 28: four in North Carolina and 99 in Florida, according to CBS News. Hurricane Ian’s aftermath continues to ravage portions of the state. Some barrier island bridges have been washed away, roads are flooded, and some areas lack power or water.

The Florida District medical examiners (FDME) office reported 68 deaths attributed to the storm through October 3, though that number will likely climb.

Of the 11 counties in the FDME report, Lee County has reported 54 lost lives, Gizmodo reports. The county includes popular destinations Fort Myers, Pine Island, and Sanibel Island.

About 130 Florida Department of Transportation trucks have begun building a temporary bridge to Pine Island on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The structure should be complete by the end of the week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced Monday on Twitter.

DeSantis also used Twitter and traditional media, asking for “those who want to volunteer to help Floridians in need recover from” the storm.

On September 29, the president approved an expedited major disaster declaration for the state of Florida. The order provides for individual assistance and debris removal for nine counties and 100% direct federal assistance for costs associated with search and rescue, sheltering, and feeding survivors, according to the White House.

Biden toured a devastated Puerto Rico and will travel to Florida tomorrow as frustration and floodwaters continue to rise, reported The Dallas Express. The territory was rocked by Hurricane Fiona on September 18, leaving a path of destruction. Two weeks afterward, the island reportedly still has around 120,000 homes and businesses without power.

“I’m heading to Puerto Rico because they haven’t been taken very good care of,” Biden claimed. “They’ve been trying like hell to catch up from the last hurricane. I want to see the state of affairs today and make sure we push everything we can.”

Kevin Guthrie, director of FDEM, told reporters during an October 3 press conference that evacuation orders are at the discretion of local authorities, who “do not have a crystal ball.” He said they make the best decision possible about when to order evacuations based on the information available to them at the time.

“I believe (Lee County’s administration) made the best decision they felt was right for their community at that time, and I will never second-guess a local emergency manager on their decision to pull an evacuation order,” Guthrie said.

FDEM released a list of important phone numbers and websites for people seeking information about and solace from the storm’s effects.

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