“Approximately 35 deaths” were reported in a single Florida county after Hurricane Ian, the sheriff says

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno confirmed “approximately 35” additional deaths Saturday after Hurricane Ian devastated much of Southwest Florida.

The announcement comes after state officials had already confirmed dozens of deaths across Florida.

Sheriff Marceno said his emergency response teams have been working hard to assess the damage and continue their search and rescue operations.

“Today we have rescued over 600 to 700 people in need during this difficult time, unfortunately with about 35 deaths,” Marceno said in a video released by the Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff said his team is working to release information about those killed but noted the lengthy process required before identifications could be released. Marceno did not immediately confirm whether all of the deaths were storm-related.

“Right away and family members must be notified,” the sheriff added.

Some residents of Lee County, located south of Sarasota and Charlotte Counties, had expressed concern that officials were delaying evacuation orders until Tuesday, with one telling the Tampa Bay Times there was “no point” in waiting that long.

“If it wasn’t for the news, I might not have been evacuated,” the Fort Myers woman told the outlet.

The National Hurricane Center, meanwhile, said Monday night that “life-threatening” storm surges were expected for many areas in Florida, including Fort Myers in central Lee County, the New York Times reported.

Other counties north of Lee, including Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte, had already issued an evacuation order Monday, about a half-day before Lee County officials ordered evacuations Tuesday morning, according to the New York Times.

Kevin Guthrie, the chief of Florida’s Department of Emergency Management, later claimed that officials “made the best decision they could based on the information they had at the time,” noting that the hurricane was likely would end up further up the coast, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

Marceno’s update from Saturday morning only shows how badly the area was affected by the strong storm.

Marceno added that people from across the state “as a whole” have come together to recover from the devastating blow.

“Everyone from our Governor Ron DeSantis to CFO Jimmy Patronis, our Attorney General, sheriffs across the state have provided manpower for us here in Lee County,” Marceno said. “What a blessing that is.”

https://wgntv.com/news/nexstar-media-wire/about-35-deaths-reported-in-single-florida-county-after-hurricane-ian-sheriff-says/ “Approximately 35 deaths” were reported in a single Florida county after Hurricane Ian, the sheriff says

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