“This could be the deadliest hurricane in the history of Florida,” US President Joe Biden addressed the people with this grim prediction. Photos on Friday gave an impression of the incredible force with which “Ian” hit the “Sunshine State”: Completely destroyed streets, houses in ruins, cars floating in the water. And now the residents face other dangers – crocodiles, for example.
The Tampa Bay Times newspaper reports at least 17 dead. Just in the district of Charlotte County on the south west coast of Florida, where the hurricane made landfall, seven people are believed to have died.
In Florida, streets were flooded, houses were destroyed, bridges were destroyed or boats washed ashore, as in Fort Myers. On Key Largo, one of the islands in the Florida Keys in the far south of the state, the water in the streets is so deep that crocodiles swim in it – and this, in turn, has actually become a danger to people.
“We absolutely expect there have been deaths,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said. In more than 700 cases, people were saved from great danger, the coast guard used helicopters to rescue desperate people from the roofs of houses.
Florida: More than 2.6 million people without power
More than 2.6 million homes were without power, and more than 350,000 had power restored as of Thursday, the governor said. On Sanibel Island, the bridge connecting it to the mainland was destroyed.
The Lee County Sheriff is at a loss at the sight of Fort Myers Beach. “It was an area of hotels, restaurants, palm trees and sand, and now what?” A stunned resident told the Tampa Bay Times: “It’s absolute devastation, there’s almost nothing left.”
Authorities warned residents of flooded areas of dangers in the water – for example pollutants from the sewage system, chemicals – or even alligators. Broken electricity and gas lines can also cost lives. Helicopter footage showed burning houses among flooded streets or properties from which the buildings had been completely washed away.
You may also be interested in: Shots at US school: six people, two in danger
“Hurricane Ian is going to be a storm we’ll be talking about for decades to come,” said Deanne Criswell, director of the US Civil Protection Agency. There is still no exact assessment of the damage. “But it would be catastrophic.” Your agency is preparing for thousands of families to be unable to return to their homes. (dpa/miri)