Search and rescue efforts doubled in Florida after Hurricane Ian

Search and rescue efforts doubled in Florida after Hurricane Ian

Florida search and rescue teams returned Monday to inspect tens of thousands of homes and businesses along the state’s Gulf of Mexico coast after completing an initial search in the area devastated by Hurricane Ian, one of the most powerful storms to date. .

Kevin Guthrie, Florida’s director of emergency management, said first responders took a quick tour of about 45,000 homes and businesses after the Category 4 storm swamped or completely swept away properties.

“We’ve been to just about every address,” he said, noting that teams are now conducting more extensive research. “We think we tried everything too quickly. Now let’s go back and take a second look.”

Since Ian reached the mainland with maximum sustained winds of 240 km/h, at least 58 storm-related deaths have been confirmed by the Florida Office of Medical Examiner. Authorities in Lee and Charlotte counties, the hardest-hit in the state, reported 27 more deaths.

“I’m not saying we won’t find anyone else,” Guthrie said of the searches. “We can find other people.”

Lee County, home to Fort Myers, has suffered some of the worst destruction. Residents criticized emergency officials for perceived delays in issuing an evacuation order as the storm advanced south of its previously expected target in Tampa, which has remained relatively unscathed.

“Emergency management directors don’t have a crystal ball. I think Lee County made the best decision possible at the time,” Guthrie said, noting that evacuation decisions are being made at the local level.

(Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago and Rich MacKay in Atlanta)

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