At least 72 people have died in Florida from Hurricane Ian, according to local officials.
Four people were also reported dead from the storm in North Carolina, the governor’s office said.
The Category 4 storm hit Florida’s southwest coast Wednesday afternoon, causing catastrophic damage, violent winds and dangerous, record-breaking storm surges.
The deaths are spread across multiple Florida counties, including 35 in Lee County, 23 in Charlotte County, five in Volusia County, three each in Collier County and Sarasota counties, and one each in Lake, Hendry and Manatee counties, according to ABC News ascertained information from the Florida Medical Examiners Commission and inquiries from local officials and agencies.
The death toll from the cataclysmic storm has risen amid ongoing search and rescue missions.
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno updated Saturday that more than 700 people have been rescued in the devastated county, despite reporting 35 deaths so far from the storm.
“It is with a heavy heart that I say this number,” said Marceno, whose district is home to hard-hit Fort Myers and the barrier island of Sanibel, in a video posted to Facebook.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said Friday night there are 10 confirmed deaths attributed to Ian. The causes of death were primarily drowning, as well as two vehicle accidents and one roof-top accident. The tally confirmed by the Medical Examiners Commission includes no deaths from hard-hit Lee or Charlotte counties.
It’s unclear if the state’s number overlaps with ABC News’ analysis.
The state confirms deaths by reviewing medical examiners’ records, which can take time.
The deaths, confirmed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, occurred between September 27 and September 30 in Lake, Sarasota, Manatee, Volusia and Collier counties. The victims were between 22 and 91 years old. One, a 68-year-old woman, drowned after being swept into the sea by a wave on September 29, the department said.
The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office was one of the first to publicly announce Ian’s death. A 72-year-old man in Deltona died after trying to drain his pool during the storm, the bureau said Thursday.
The man, who has not been publicly identified, “disappeared” after going outside, the sheriff’s office said. Deputies found him unresponsive in a sewer behind the house and he was pronounced dead at a local hospital, the sheriff’s office said.
The storm made landfall again Friday in South Carolina, which has so far reported no deaths from the storm, Gov. Henry McMaster said Saturday.
Four storm-related deaths were reported in neighboring North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement Saturday. On Friday, three car crashes involving victims aged 22 to 25 were involved. Also, a 65-year-old man died of carbon monoxide poisoning on Saturday after running a generator in his closed garage while the power was out.
Emergency response was largely halted on Wednesday as the storm battered Florida with strong winds and heavy rain. Search and rescue efforts were underway across the state as of Thursday.
Florida Rep. Kathy Castor, representing the Tampa Bay area, called the situation a “major disaster.”
“I’m afraid we’re going to be dealing with a greater loss of life than we anticipated,” she told ABC News Live on Thursday.
Florida Senator Rick Scott told Good Morning America Thursday morning that “thousands of rescue efforts are currently underway.”
“We have great sheriff’s departments, police departments, fire departments, state rescue teams. They work hard. But there are a lot of people who need help right now,” he said.
He expressed concern about the state’s many low-lying areas.
“The water is killing and I’m just — I’m scared to death of what happened here and I hope everyone stays safe,” he said.
President Joe Biden spoke with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Thursday morning and told DeSantis that FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell will travel to Florida on Friday to update on the response effort.
Sheriff Marceno told Good Morning America Thursday that they have thousands of 911 calls that they are currently taking.
“We still don’t have access to many people in need,” Marceno said. “It’s a really, really bumpy road ahead of us.”
ABC News’ Jay O’Brien, Ahmad Hemmingway, Benjamin Stein, and Will Gretsky contributed to this report.
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https://abc7chicago.com/hurricane-ian-florida-death-toll-hurricanes/12287481/ Hurricane Ian: At least 72 deaths reported after storm hit Florida, 4 dead in North Carolina