DeSantis warns 10 days after Hurricane Ian landfall can be deadly

Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., left, prepares to enter a vehicle, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Punta Gorda, Fla. Hurricane Ian caused damage in the area. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) (Wilfredo Lee, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis warned Friday afternoon during a news conference in St. Augustine that emergency response experts expect the first 10 days after Hurricane Ian’s landfall to be deadly.

There have been at least 21 hurricane-related deaths. Medical examiners are tasked with determining the cause of death, so officials can determine whether or not Hurricane Ian was to blame.

“Just because the storm has passed don’t think that there aren’t hazards there,” DeSantis said referring to threats such as live power lines and gas leaks.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell and Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie also provided their updates.

“Neighbors are helping neighbors. They are really jumping in and helping each other out,” Criswell said before praising “the absolute heroic efforts” of the local first responders.

Groups of good Samaritans have been helping Fire Rescue personnel with rescues related to Hurricane Ian.

Federal and state teams are working together to rescue survivors who may be trapped in unsafe conditions and recover the bodies of those who didn’t survive the Category 4 storm’s ferocity.

DeSantis said helicopters responded to Captiva, Sanibel Island, and other barrier islands to check up on survivors who can’t drive to the mainland because of the collapsed causeway. Many of them, he said, told rescuers they want to stay home.

“The issue is going to be long-term,” DeSantis said about the repairs and replacement of damaged infrastructure.

Local 10 News Reporter Jeff Weinsier goes over new video of Hurricane Ian damage.

Rescue teams have checked on about 3,000 homes, officials reported. Guthrie said this is an opportunity for residents to apply for federal aid to prepare for the next hurricane.

“If you are in a situation where you continually flood, we can elevate your home,” Guthrie said about FEMA’s flood mitigation and hazard mitigation grant programs.

DeSantis, Guthrie, and Criswell said residents in Central Florida will also need assistance. DeSantis said there was a lot of standing water in Kissimmee. He said FEMA was going to be covering the cost of the workforce need

Criswell also asked residents to reach out to their insurance companies quickly before filing their applications with FEMA.

“It’s important to know that FEMA does not replace insurance,” Criswell said.

Local 10 News Reporter Jeff Weinsier shows videos of rescues and the difficult conditions first responders face after Hurricane Ian.

The hurricane’s storm surge pushed through buildings and homes and tossed around cars, trucks, recreational vehicles, houseboats, yachts, and almost everything in its way.

Older homes, DeSantis said, “just washed into the ocean.”

It tore through coastal neighborhoods and destroyed mobile home communities. It uprooted trees and damaged traffic lights, electric poles, and power lines.

“The biggest challenge with power restoration is going to be in those areas that bore the brunt of the Category 4 plus, almost Category 5, impact, where it may have uprooted some of the existing infrastructures,” DeSantis said.

Guthrie said Lee County didn’t have enough time to prepare for the storm because it was so difficult to have a definite forecast. DeSantis said local emergency teams prepared.

“Fort Myers and Naples were not even in the cone,” DeSantis said adding the assumption was that it would hit Tampa.

There were towns and cities with communication dead zones. The U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. National Guard helicopters facilitated the rescue effort amid the chaos.

Criswell asked anyone in need of information about FEMA aid to visit the Disaster Assistance page. DeSantis asked anyone who was interested in helping victims to visit the Florida Disaster Fund page.

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More from reporters on Florida’s west coast

In this photo taken by a drone, shrimping boats and powerboats lie strewn atop homes after the passage of Hurricane Ian, on San Carlos Island, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Hurricane Ian's storm surge damaged a bridge that connects Sanibel Island to the main land. This aerial photo was shot on Sept. 29. (AP Foto/Wilfredo Lee) (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
This image shot with a drone shows mobile homes after Hurricane Ian in the island of San Carlos in Fort Myers, on Sept. 29. (AP Foto/Rebecca Blackwell) (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
In an aerial view, boats are piled on top of each other after Hurricane Ian passed through the area on September 29, 2022 in Fort Myers Beach, Florida. The hurricane brought high winds, storm surge and rain to the area causing severe damage. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) (Getty Images)
Rescue personnel search a flooded trailer park after Hurricane Ian passed by the area Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

About the Author:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.