After Hurricane Ian obliterated communities in Florida, rescue crews going door-to-door in search of survivors are reporting more deaths, and residents grappling with the losses are facing a long, daunting recovery.
As of Monday, at least 101 people have been reported killed by the hurricane in Florida – 54 of them in Lee County alone. Ian also claimed the lives of four people in North Carolina.
Ian slammed into Florida as a furious Category 4 hurricane last Wednesday. Days later, there are residents of island communities cut off from the mainland, hundreds of thousands of people without power, and Floridians who have found themselves homeless.
In some cases, government officials dealing with recovery efforts are among those who lost their homes.
Fort Myers Beach City Councilman Bill Veach said his 90-year-old cottage is in ruins, with only one section that was a recent addition left standing. Pieces of his home were found two blocks away, he said.
“When you are walking around the ruins, it’s an apocalyptic scene,” Veach said of his neighborhood.
Still, even in the wreckage, there have been moments of hope, he said.
“You see a friend that you weren’t sure was alive or dead and that brings you joy. A joy that is so much more than the loss of property,” Veach added.
Rescuers throughout the state have been coming to the aid of trapped residents via boat and aircraft. More than 1,900 people have been rescued as of Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a news conference.
Some residents who were anxiously waiting to hear from their loved ones have received unimaginable news.
Elizabeth McGuire’s family said they last spoke with her Wednesday and had been having trouble reaching her. They learned Friday that the 49-year-old had been found dead in her Cape Coral home.
Police told her family she died in her bed holding her cell phone and it looked like she died instantly, her son Andrew Chedester said.
McGuire’s mother, Susan McGuire, said the destruction of the storm “is massive.”
“One hundred blizzards will not cost you what one hurricane will cost you,” said Susan McGuire, who moved to Florida from Maryland a few years ago. “My husband’s business whipped out, my daughter is dead … I never had a blizzard take anything away from me.”