Florida launches large search and rescue operation as recovery from Ian begins

Hurricane Ian damage, Fort Meyers
(Image credit: Pedro Portal/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Federal emergency management officials have launched their largest-ever search and rescue operation as states begin recovery from Hurricane Ian. Officials have reported that the U.S. death toll has reached over 80 with at least 76 in Florida and four in North Carolina, CNN reports. Death counts are expected to rise as operations continue.

More than 1,000 rescue team members have performed at least 1,600 rescues in the days since the storm in Florida. Power has also been restored to approximately 1.8 million accounts within the state. In some of the more devastated counties including Lee and Charlotte, power may take months to recover, Politico reports. Parts of Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lee, Levy, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, St. Johns, and Sarasota Counties continue to be under mandatory evacuation orders, reports NBC News. According to insurers, more than $1.44 billion in preliminary claims have been filed.

Hurricane Ian hit Fort Meyers, Florida on Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane. It then hit South Carolina and North Carolina later in the week. President Biden and first lady Jill Biden will visit Florida on Wednesday to see the damage caused by the storm. As the storm weakens, remnants of it are now causing rain and flooding on the Jersey Shore.

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"There's been a great outpouring of support and I've seen a lot of resilience in this community," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said at a news conference Saturday, "We'll be here and we'll be helping every step of the way."

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