The death toll from Hurricane Ian in Florida rises to 47

Florida authorities confirmed several more deaths late Saturday, raising the state’s death toll from Hurricane Ian to at least 47 deaths.

A list of the dead compiled and released by state coroners reported numerous deaths from drowning, victims found submerged or floating in rainwater.

Ian battered the southwestern Gulf Coast of Florida earlier in the week as a major Category 4 hurricane before crossing the peninsula over the Atlantic Ocean and then hitting the U.S. southeast coast as a Category 1 hurricane.

Four other storm-related deaths were reported in North Carolina and three in Cuba.

As of Saturday, more than 1,000 people had been rescued from flooded areas on Florida’s southwest coast alone, Daniel Hokanson, a four-star general and chief of the National Guard, told The Associated Press as he flew to Florida.

Homes were blown to pieces and boats littered streets on Pine Island, the largest barrier island off Florida’s Gulf Coast, as a volunteer rescue team went door-to-door asking isolated residents if they wanted to be evacuated. Residents described the horror of being trapped in their homes as the waters continued to rise.

“The water just kept pounding on the house and we watched, boats, houses – we watched everything fly by,” said Joe Conforti, fighting back tears.

He said that if his wife hadn’t suggested standing on a table to avoid the rising water, he wouldn’t have been able to: “I started to lose sensitivity because when the water is in front of your door and it’s up the splattering door and you see how fast it moves, there’s no way you’ll survive that.”

River flooding at times posed a major challenge to rescue and supply efforts. The Myakka River washed over a section of Interstate 75, forcing a traffic-calming closure of the freeway Saturday.

While rising water in Florida’s southwestern rivers has peaked or is about to peak, levels are not expected to drop significantly for days, said weather forecaster Tyler Fleming of the National Weather Service in Tampa.

Elsewhere, Pawleys Island in South Carolina — a beach community about 70 miles from Charleston — was among the hardest-hit locations. Power remained out on at least half of the island on Saturday.

Pawleys Pier was one of at least four piers along the South Carolina coast destroyed by high winds and rain. Meanwhile, the Intracoastal Waterway was littered with the remains of several boathouses that had been knocked off their posts.

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https://www.newschainonline.com/news/world-news/death-toll-from-hurricane-ian-escalates-to-47-in-florida-295764 The death toll from Hurricane Ian in Florida rises to 47

Mike Fahey

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