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Death toll from Hurricane Ian expected to rise as search continues

Florida residents proceed to grapple with floodwaters but to recede and search efforts underway as the state comes to phrases with the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, one of the highly effective storms to ever hit the U.S. mainland.

The confirmed dying toll, at the moment 48, is expected to rise, as extra autopsies are accomplished and recovery efforts proceed, and President Biden warned Ian could possibly be Florida’s deadliest hurricane ever.

Biden and first woman Jill Biden are planning to journey to Puerto Rico on Monday and to Florida on Wednesday to tour hurricane harm in two locations which have been considerably affected, the White House introduced late Saturday night time.

Florida National Guard troops relied on high-water autos to drop off rescued residents at a church in North Port on Saturday.

Connie Cullison, 67, mentioned she was lastly picked up Saturday afternoon, after she had initially known as for assist Friday night time. The rising water had lower off entry to her residence, and Cullison wants a walker to get round after having knee substitute surgical procedure.

“My house has minor damage but we just have no power, no water, no food,” Cullison mentioned after she was introduced to the church. “But there are people so much worse off than me.”

Florida’s Medical Examiners Commission mentioned Saturday night time that the storm had resulted in 44 deaths within the state, most of them due to drowning. Many had been over 60 years previous. Bodies had been discovered inside flooded vehicles, floating in waters and drowned on the seaside. That quantity is expected to develop as rescuers comb by way of particles and medical experts conduct autopsies. There had been 4 storm-related deaths in North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) mentioned.

Officials mentioned 30 of the victims in Florida had been present in Lee County, which incorporates Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel and Cape Coral. The county doesn’t have operating water, and practically 70 % of the county is with out energy.

Explore aerial photos of Hurricane Ian’s harm to the Florida coast

Across the southwest and central areas of the state, about 800,000 houses and companies remained with out energy on Sunday, in accordance to PowerOutage.us. In North Carolina, greater than 26,000 prospects are with out energy.

Meanwhile, a number of bridges had been destroyed, complicating rescue efforts. The causeway to Sanibel, a 12-mile barrier island, was rendered impassable, reducing the island off from the mainland.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) advised ABC News “This Week” that the island might be uninhabitable for the foreseeable future. “I think our priority now is to identify the people that remain on Sanibel who wanted to stay there, but eventually have to come off because there’s just no way to continue with life there. There’s no way to restore the power. There’s no economy there. At some point they’ll have to be moved,” Rubio mentioned, including that it’s going to take “a couple of years at least” to rebuild the bridge.

Rubio mentioned the full harm was extra devastating than something he may recall in Florida historical past. “Fort Myers Beach no longer exists. It’ll have to be rebuilt,” he mentioned. “It was a slice of old Florida that you can’t recapture,” he mentioned.

Speaking on the identical program, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell mentioned emergency staff are “still actively in the search and rescue phase” and going “through every home to make sure that we don’t leave anybody behind.”

Residents on Sanibel had been advised to evacuate earlier than the storm however questions have been raised about how lengthy officers in Lee County took to make evacuation choices amid unsure forecasts.

Those who determined to journey out the key hurricane from their houses have begun to share their tales of camaraderie and loss within the wake of the storm.

An extra problem to clear up and rescues, main flooding can also be expected to proceed by way of subsequent week throughout parts of central Florida, inflicting extra destruction. Already, the storm is estimated to have prompted greater than $60 billion in property loss in Florida.

Floridians hit by hurricane face gridlock, flooding, intensive harm

The National Hurricane Center issued its final advisory for Post-Tropical Cyclone Ian Saturday night time, forecasting flooding in central Florida, as effectively as up to three inches of rain in components of West Virginia and western Maryland into Sunday morning.

Major flood warnings have shut down roads stretching from Kissimmee River to St. Johns River watersheds in Central Florida. The National Weather Service is anxious that some locations like East Lake Tohopekaliga and Lake Tohopekaliga could have extra flooding within the coming days, main to extra waterlogged areas downstream for inland areas like Orlando.

The Myakka River, reaching a document excessive, washed over Interstate 75, closing the key freeway earlier than it was reopened Saturday afternoon. Officials are persevering with to monitor the river’s ranges.

Water has already inundated buildings as far north as houses in Astor close to St. Johns and south as a retirement group in Kissimmee, exterior of Orlando.

Tim Craig, Matt Viser and Matt Brown contributed to this report.

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