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Almost a week after Hurricane Ian’s impact, Florida authorities are maintaining search and rescue operations with the support of more than a thousand rescuers, while the official death toll stands at 72 on Tuesday, a figure that differs from the more than a hundred dead that the Lee County sheriff had initially warned.
As reported late Tuesday in a statement by the Medical Examiners Commission (MEC), based on the reports of forensic doctors, 4 confirmed deaths have been added to the 68 already counted, bringing the figure to 72.
Most confirmed deaths from Ian are concentrated in Lee County, where on Tuesday Sheriff Carmine Marceno said that so far 55 people have died in the county, 46 of whom have already been identified.
It is in that county that the largest number of people without power is also concentrated, nearly 215,000 of the total of more than 413,000 statewide, with areas like Pine Island that will be that way for a month, Karen Ryan, a spokeswoman for Lee County Electric Cooperative, one of the firms providing power, told CNN.
Governor DeSantis said that in DeSoto and Charlotte counties, just over 50% of consumers are still without power and that some of the more than 42,000 workers who have been deployed to the state are working around the clock to restore power.
Executives from FPL, the state’s largest utility, said they expect 95 percent of customers to have power restored by Friday, except for structures with “catastrophic damage” or still flooded.
During a press conference, DeSantis added that the bridge linking Pine Island to the mainland will be repaired and is expected to be ready for vehicular traffic this weekend, which will ease reconstruction efforts.
In neighboring Sanibel, residents will be able to return on Wednesday and take stock of the damage, according to Mayor Holly Smith, who warned that there are parts of the island that are still “extremely unsafe”.
DeSantis said he expects to conduct an inspection on Sanibel Island on Wednesday.
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will make a visit to Florida on Wednesday, where they will be briefed on the situation by Republican DeSantis.
DeSantis again criticized the Biden Administration’s immigration policy on Tuesday, after pointing out that of four people arrested so far for property thefts amid the destruction left by Ian, three were undocumented.
As reported by the Department of Defense, the National Guard has rescued more than 2,100 people and 50 pets in states that have been affected by Ian: Florida, the Carolinas and Tennessee among them.