Search and rescue efforts in Florida have redoubled in the wake of the deadly Hurricane Ian

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FORT MYERS – Search and rescue teams in Florida doubled down on Monday to check tens of thousands of homes and businesses along the Gulf Coast after conducting an initial search of the area devastated by Hurricane Ian, one of the most powerful storms of all time. to hit the United States.

First responders made a quick visit to about 45,000 homes and businesses after the Category 4 storm inundated homes and buildings with water or swept them away completely, said Kevin Guthrie, director of emergency management in Florida, during an early morning briefing.

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“We went to almost every address,” he said, noting that crews were now searching more thoroughly. “We think we searched everything very quickly. Now we go back for a second look.

Since Ian crashed ashore with maximum sustained winds of 150 miles per hour (240 km per hour), at least 58 storm-related fatalities have been confirmed by the Florida Medical Examiners Commission. Officials in Lee and Charlotte counties, the most affected in the state, reported 27 additional deaths.

“I’m not saying we’re not going to find someone else. We might find other people,” Guthrie said of the second search.

Some 43,000 linemen and support staff were working to restore power to more than 600,000 homes and businesses left without power, he said. About 3.3 million homes and businesses initially lost power during the storm, he said.

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Lee County, home to Fort Myers, has seen some of the worst destruction. Emergency officials were criticized by residents for a perceived delay in issuing an evacuation order, as the storm moved south from its previously predicted target of Tampa, which remained relatively unscathed.

“Emergency management directors don’t have a crystal ball. I believe Lee County made the best decision possible at the time,” Guthrie said, noting that evacuation decisions are made at the local level.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Chief Col. Gene Spaulding warned residents to stay off the roads to allow easier access for emergency responders and electrical crews. Some roads remain under water and others that might seem safe might have all the dirt washed away under the asphalt, he said.

« Don’t assume it’s safe, » he said.

Read more:

GRAPHIC-Hurricane Ian hits the Gulf Coast

FACTBOX-Hurricane Ian Damage: Death Toll and Last Snapshot of Impact in Florida

FACTBOX-Over 570,000 people still without power in Florida after Hurricane Ian

Insurers could face $57 billion in bills for Hurricane Ian – Verisk

Scenes from Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian

(Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago and Rich McKay in Atlanta; editing by Jonathan Oatis)


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