Hurricane Ian death toll rises above 80, response criticised | Weather News

Federal authorities plans huge quantity of support as native officers in worst-hit communities defend evacuation orders.

The loss of life toll from Hurricane Ian within the southeastern United States has climbed previous 80 as some officers face criticism over their response to the storm.

Not less than 85 storm-related deaths have been confirmed since Ian made landfall on Florida’s Gulf Coast on Wednesday as a Class 4 hurricane, with most sustained winds of 249 kilometres per hour (155 miles per hour).

Florida accounted for all however 4 of the fatalities.

The sheriff’s workplace in coastal Lee County, which incorporates devastated Fort Myers, mentioned it had counted 42 lifeless, with 39 deaths reported by officers in neighbouring counties.

Officers in Lee County have confronted questions over whether or not they mandated evacuations in time.

Cecil Pendergrass, chairman of the county’s board of commissioners, mentioned on Sunday that evacuation orders got as quickly because the hurricane’s route turned clear. Even then, some folks selected to trip out the storm, Pendergrass mentioned.

“I respect their selections,” he mentioned at a press convention. “However I’m positive a number of them remorse it now.”

Deanne Criswell, the Federal Emergency Administration Company administrator, mentioned the federal authorities deliberate to unleash an enormous quantity of support, focusing its consideration on Florida first. President Joe Biden and first girl Jill Biden are because of journey to the state on Wednesday.

Criswell instructed Fox Information Sunday that the federal authorities, together with the Coast Guard and Division of Protection, had moved into place “the most important quantity of search and rescue property that I believe we’ve ever put in place earlier than”.

Nonetheless, she warned that risks stay.

“We see so many extra accidents and typically extra fatalities after the storm,” Criswell mentioned. “Standing water brings with it all types of hazards — it has particles, it may have energy strains.”

A car on a destroyed road surrounded by water and fallen trees after Hurricane Ian in Florida
Ian made landfall on Florida’s Gulf Coast on Wednesday as a Class 4 hurricane, with most sustained winds of 249km/h (155mph) [Marco Bello/Reuters]

Authorities in North Carolina mentioned a minimum of 4 folks had been killed there. No deaths have been instantly reported in South Carolina, the place Ian made one other US landfall on Friday.

Chugging over land since then, Ian has diminished into an ever-weakening post-tropical cyclone, however water ranges have continued to rise in some flooded areas, inundating houses and streets that have been satisfactory only a day or two earlier.

The Nationwide Hurricane Heart forecast extra heavy rainfall was potential throughout components of West Virginia and western Maryland into Sunday morning, and “main to report flooding” in central Florida.

Washed away

As the total scale of the devastation turned clearer, officers mentioned among the heaviest harm was inflicted by wind-driven ocean surf that smashed into seaside communities and washed buildings away.

Satellite tv for pc photos from the Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed seaside cottages and a motel that lined the shores of Florida’s Sanibel Island had been destroyed in storm surges. Though most houses appeared to nonetheless be standing, roof harm to all was evident.

Surveys from the bottom confirmed that the barrier island, a well-liked vacationer getaway that was house to some 6,000, was devastated.

“It’s all simply utterly gone,” Sanibel’s metropolis supervisor, Dana Souza, mentioned. “Our electrical system is just about destroyed, our sewer system has been broken badly and our public water provide is beneath evaluation.”

The Nationwide Guard and the Coast Guard have been flying in helicopters to the islands to rescue folks after Sanibel’s solely bridge to the mainland collapsed.

Greater than 700,000 companies and houses remained with out energy on Sunday afternoon in Florida alone, the place greater than 2 million clients misplaced electrical energy the primary night time of the storm.