TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — As the remnants of Hurricane Ian continued to threaten flooding along the Virginia coastline Monday, recovery efforts continued further south. As the National Guard used helicopters to rescue residents who have been stranded for days in Florida, it became clear the road to recovery would be long.
At least 68 people were confirmed dead: 61 in Florida, four in North Carolina and three in Cuba.
State officials in Florida, which bore the brunt of the storm, had continued to revise the death toll upward throughout the weekend. Fort Myers Beach Mayor Ray Murphy told NBC’s “Today Show” on Monday that the search and rescue mission would be taking place for the next couple of days. Murphy said that was why residents who evacuated are largely being kept away from their homes.
Among those killed were a 62-year-old woman who was hurt and drowned after a tree fell on her mobile home, a 54-year-old man who drowned after being trapped in a window, and a Lee County woman whose body was found tangled in wires under a home.
A 71-year-old man had also died after falling off his roof while installing rain shutters Wednesday.
Another death was also reported in the Tampa Bay area after a 22-year-old woman died in an ATV crash caused by a road washout in Manatee County.
FDEM Director Kevin Guthrie said there was also a case of human remains found in an underwater home in Lee County.
“We do not know exactly how many were in the house,” he said Friday. “The water was up over the rooftop.”
More deaths are expected to be discovered as floodwaters recede. According to Guthrie, the death toll may also go down at some points, because deaths can later be attributed to be non-storm-related causes. That’s why the totals are expected to change as information goes in.
“People die in disasters that have nothing to do with the disaster,” he said. “The medical examiner is the one that makes that determination.”
Deanne Criswell, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said the federal government was ready to help in a huge way. Criswell told “Fox News Sunday” that the federal government, including the Coast Guard and Department of Defense, had moved into position “the largest amount of search and rescue assets that I think we’ve ever put in place before.”
Rescue missions, especially in the barrier islands surrounding Fort Meyers, Florida, were ongoing Monday.
About 620,000 homes and businesses in the state were still without power.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.