TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno confirmed dozens of additional deaths Saturday in the wake of Hurricane Ian’s devastation to much of southwest Florida.
The sheriff said his emergency response teams have been hard at work assessing damage and continuing their search and rescue operations.
“Today we’ve had over 600 to 700 rescues of people that are in need during this difficult time,” Marceno said, “With about 35 deaths, unfortunately.”
The sheriff said his team is working to release information on those killed but noted the lengthy process required before identifications can be made public. Marceno did not immediately confirm whether all the deaths were storm-related.
“Next of kin and family members have to be notified,” the sheriff added.
In an update late Saturday morning, Marceno said people from all over the county and state have come together “as a whole” to recover from the devastating hit.
“Everyone from our Governor Ron DeSantis to CFO Jimmy Patronis, our Attorney General, sheriffs all over the state, have given manpower to us here in Lee County,” Marceno said. “what a blessing that is.”
“Last night I just sat there by myself thinking about the devastation, looking through pictures and I’ll tell you it brought tears to my eyes,” he added.
However, the sheriff noted the light at the end of the tunnel.
“We are going to work harder and we are going to be stronger than ever. We are one big family together — that’s what makes us great.
The sheriff said his team will continue to “give this our all every single day” noting the community will come through “stronger than ever.”