Nearly 100 people have been reported dead in the U.S. exactly one week after Hurricane Ian slammed into the west coast of Florida as a powerful Category 4 storm. Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno announced Monday that 54 deaths have now been confirmed in that county, bringing the total number of Florida fatalities to at least 94.
Four storm-related deaths have previously been reported in North Carolina, bringing the U.S. toll to at least 98.
The CBS News figure is higher than the official state tally because in some cases, county officials are confirming deaths more quickly than state officials.
Before hitting Florida, the storm killed at least three people in Cuba, where it knocked out power across the island.
Days after Ian carved a path of destruction from Florida to the Carolinas, the dangers persisted, and even worsened in some places. It was clear the road to recovery from this monster storm will be long and painful.
And Ian was still not done. The storm doused Virginia with rain Sunday, and officials warned that major flooding was possible along its coast Monday.
Ian’s remnants moved offshore and formed a nor’easter that was expected to pile even more water into an already inundated Chesapeake Bay and threatened to cause the most significant tidal flooding event in Virginia’s Hampton Roads region in the last 10 to 15 years, said Cody Poche, a National Weather Service meteorologist. Norfolk and Virginia Beach declared states of emergency.
Other portions of the Atlantic coast could see higher tides than usual. The island town of Chincoteague in Virginia declared a state of emergency Sunday and strongly recommended that residents in certain areas evacuate. The Eastern Shore and northern portion of North Carolina’s Outer Banks were also likely to be impacted.
With the death toll rising, Deanne Criswell, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said the federal government was ready to help in a huge way, focusing first on victims in Florida, which took the brunt of one of the strongest storms to make landfall in the United States. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden plan to visit the state on Wednesday.
Flooded roadways and washed-out bridges to barrier islands left many people isolated amid limited cellphone service and a lack of basic amenities such as water, electricity and the internet. Officials warned that the situation in many areas isn’t expected to improve for several days because waterways are overflowing leaving the rain that fell with nowhere to go.
About 600,000 homes and businesses in Florida were still without electricity on Monday morning, down from a peak of 2.6 million.
The current goal is to restore power by Sunday to customers whose power lines and other electric infrastructure is still intact, Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie said Monday. It does not include homes or areas where infrastructure needs to be rebuilt.
More than 1,600 people have been rescued statewide, according to Florida’s emergency management agency.
Rescue missions were ongoing, especially to barrier islands near Fort Myers in southwest Florida that were cut off from the mainland when storm surges destroyed causeways and bridges.
The state will build a temporary traffic passageway for the largest one, Pine Island, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Sunday, adding that an allocation had been approved for the Department of Transportation to build it this week.