As death toll hits 74, Gov. DeSantis defends evacuation timing decisions made by Florida’s Lee County officials.
Ian, which raged into Florida as a Category 4 hurricane, is now petering out as a post-tropical cyclone in Virginia.
Ian, which the National Weather Service said was a post-tropical cyclone, continues to weaken across southern Virginia on Saturday evening.
Still, wind and rain from the storm caused downed trees, and power lines, as well as flooded roads, in some regions of the state.
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) October 2, 2022
However, the effects are going to linger for quite some time, especially in Florida.
For southern Floridians, recovery from Hurricane Ian seems like it may be a long time away, as residents wait in six-hour long lines for gasoline and 10,000 remain in shelters amid ongoing power outages.
Experts now expect the disaster recovery in Florida, as well as in North and South Carolina, to cost tens of billions of dollars — as search efforts continue for those left stranded by the storm, and the remains of anyone who may have perished.
Authorities say at least 77 people have died during the hurricane in Florida and North Carolina, NBC News reports, with the majority of those who died living in Florida’s Lee County, which bore the brunt of the storm when it made landfall on Wednesday.
Residents are now huddling at local Wal-Marts to charge their phones, as arguments break out at local gas stations about who got to the pumps first.
Federal Emergency Management Agency director Deanne Criswell indicates rescuers are now going house to house in search of victims and to render assistance.
She said the government was aware of the “catastrophic damage” and fatalities Ian was capable of causing so they positioned “the biggest number of search and rescue assets in the state prior to landfall to make sure that we could go in immediately to start those lifesaving efforts.”
“And even as much as the day before yesterday in the central part of Florida where the floodwaters were continuing to rise. Those teams are still there. They are now doing primary searches, which means that they are going house by house to make sure that we can account for everybody,” Criswell said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
The current death toll is now 74 and is expected to rise. To offer some perspective, there were 1833 deaths associated with Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the storm is ranked as the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history.
Local officials in one country are taking heat for the timing of the region’s evacuation order. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is stepping in and defending the decisions made.
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) defended the evacuation in one county hit on Wednesday by Hurricane Ian, stating that local officials in Lee County, Florida, where the storm made landfall, acted appropriately when they issued the orders on Tuesday.
“There is a difference between a storm that’s going to hit north Florida that will have peripheral effects on your region, versus one that’s making a direct impact,” DeSantis said at a news conference on Friday in Lee County, according to the New York Times. “And so what I saw in southwest Florida is, as the data changed, they sprung into action.”
…”When we went to bed Monday night, people were saying this is a direct hit on Tampa Bay — worst-case scenario for the state,” he said during a news briefing in Fort Myers on Saturday, per Politico.
“As that track started the shift south, and the computer models the next morning, they [Lee County leaders] called for the evacuation, they opened their shelters and they responded very quickly to the data,” DeSantis added, according to CNN. “But at the end of the day, Fort Myers and Naples, on Sunday, I think at the 11 a.m. advisory, 72 hours out, they weren’t even in the cone [of uncertainty for the center of the hurricane’s forecast path]. That’s just the reality, so they followed it very closely.”
Meanwhile, other deaths can be blamed on individual poor choices.
A teenager is dead and his friend is in critical condition after they stole a Maserati with the keys still in the ignition in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.
Florida officials announced on Sunday that 15-year-old Mario Bonilla died in a fiery crash early that morning after his friend, Keondrick Lang, also 15, broke into an unlocked Maserati and drove it at a high rate of speed into the side of a building.
The luxury car then flipped over in the collision, and left their other friend, Malachi Daniels, 16 — who was sitting in the back seat — in critical condition.
Lang, meanwhile, is expected to survive, as the Pinellas County Sheriffs Department continues to investigate the fatal crash.
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