TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – At least 44 people are dead after Hurricane Ian ripped across Florida, according to the latest numbers provided by the Florida Division of Emergency Management on Saturday.
Florida District Medical Examiners, who report hurricane deaths, said there have been deaths in Lake, Volusia, Sarasota, Manatee, Collier, Lee and Hendry counties.
[TRENDING: Osceola County officials provide Ian update after voluntary evacuation issued in Shingle Creek area | Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns and Volusia counties now eligible for FEMA assistance in Ian’s wake | Become a News 6 Insider (it’s free!)]
Of those confirmed deaths, one was in Lake County and five were in Volusia County, including a Deltona man who drowned in a canal while trying to drain his swimming pool and a New Smyrna Beach-area man who died in his flooded home while awaiting rescue.
This comes after FDEM director Kevin Guthrie joined Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at a news conference Friday in Tallahassee.
Guthrie said in the Friday briefing there was one confirmed death in Polk County and 20 unconfirmed deaths in southwest Florida counties. He added there were 12 unconfirmed deaths in Charlotte County and eight unconfirmed fatalities in Collier County.
Guthrie said the medical examiner at the county level makes determinations if deaths are disaster-related.
The governor thanked FEMA for immediate efforts to help Floridians in the aftermath of Ian.
“You had people immediately descend onto the scene, particularly in southwest Florida. There’s life rescue, making sure people are OK, following up on any type of calls, and there’s been really a Herculean effort,” he said.
Since Hurricane Ian made landfall in southwest Florida Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane and left the state as a tropical storm, rescue and recovery efforts have been underway across a number of counties.
Central Florida saw residents rescued and evacuated from apartments and retirement communities due to historic flood levels across different areas, including in Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia counties.
“These first 72 hours are really (about) life safety, and then working to restore the main services—power, fuel and communications—and there’s massive numbers of people on the ground working 24/7 to do that,” the governor said Thursday evening. “As the storm has moved through the state, it has caused a lot of problems with really historic flooding in parts of Central Florida and into northeast Florida and so it’s important that those folks also have the ability to get assistance if they need it.”
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