Death toll from Hurricane Ian rises to 83; US authorities defend response

Destroyed homes, vehicles and boats are seen after Hurricane Ian caused widespread destruction in Pine Island, Florida October 2, 2022. (Photo: Reuters)

Yesterday, the death toll from Hurricane Ian surpassed 80 as residents in Florida and the Carolinas faced a recovery that is likely to cost tens of billions of dollars, and some politicians were criticized for their reaction to the disaster.

As floodwaters receded and search teams advanced further into places once sealed off from the outside world, the death toll was anticipated to rise. Hundreds of people have been rescued as emergency personnel combed through flooded or completely submerged homes and businesses.

At least 85 storm-related deaths have been verified since Wednesday, when Ian, a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 150 miles per hour, slammed into Florida's Gulf Coast with catastrophic intensity (240 km per hour).

All but four of the fatalities occurred in Florida, with 42 deaths recorded by the sheriff's office in coastal Lee County, which bore the brunt of the hurricane when it made landfall, and 39 deaths reported by officials in four nearby counties.

Officials in Lee County, which contains Fort Myers and Cape Coral and is located on the Gulf Coast, have been questioned regarding the timeliness with which they ordered evacuations.

Chairman of the county's board of commissioners Cecil Pendergrass stated yesterday that evacuation orders were issued after the county was predicted to be in the cone or the likely path of the hurricane's center. Even yet, some individuals elected to ride out the storm, according to Pendergrass.

He added at a press conference, "I respect their choices." However, I'm certain that many of them now regret their decision.

President Joe Biden and their first wife Jill Biden will visit Florida on Wednesday, according to a statement released by the White House on Saturday. Today, the Bidens will go to Puerto Rico, where hundreds of thousands of residents are still without electricity two weeks after Hurricane Fiona struck the island.

Cuba is restoring power after Hurricane Ian knocked out electricity to the whole 11 million-person nation, destroyed homes, and wiped away agricultural areas.

Authorities in North Carolina stated that at least four individuals had been killed there. There were no initial reports of fatalities in South Carolina, as Hurricane Ian made a second US landfall on Friday.

Since then, Ian has weakened over land into an ever-weakening post-tropical cyclone.

The National Hurricane Center forecasted additional significant rains across portions of West Virginia and western Maryland yesterday morning, as well as "major to record flooding" in the heart of Florida.

Washed away

As the extent of the devastation became obvious, officials stated that wind-driven ocean waves that raced into beachside villages and washed away buildings caused some of the worst damage.

Satellite photographs from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) revealed that beach cottages and a motel on Sanibel Island, Florida, had been destroyed by storm surges. Although the majority of residences appeared to be standing, roof damage was obvious on every structure.

Surveys conducted on the ground revealed that the barrier island, a renowned tourist destination and home to approximately 6,000 people, was devastated.

The municipal manager of Sanibel, Dan Souza, stated, "It's all completely gone." Our power infrastructure is essentially wrecked, our sewage system is severely damaged, and our public water supply is being evaluated.

Souza stated that causeway bridge breaks disconnected the island's connection to the mainland, significantly complicating recovery efforts.

Ian regained hurricane intensity and pounded coastal South Carolina on Friday, making landfall near Georgetown, north of the historic port of Charleston.

Numerous highways in the vicinity were flooded and blocked by downed trees, and several piers were destroyed.

In Florida alone, more than 700,000 businesses and households were still without electricity as of yesterday afternoon, a day after more than 2 million people lost power the first night of the hurricane.

CoreLogic, a US property data and analytics firm, reported that insurers anticipated between US$28 billion and US$47 billion (RM129 billion and RM217 billion) in claims from what might be the biggest Florida storm since Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

Publish : 2022-10-03 09:00:00

Give Your Comments