Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said on “Good Morning America” earlier Thursday that the number of deaths from Hurricane Ian could reach into the hundreds.
“So while I don’t have confirmed numbers, I defintitely know fatalities are in the hundreds,” Marceno said. “There are thousands of people that are waiting to be rescued.
“And again, I can’t give a true assessment until we’re actually on scene assessing each scene. And we can’t access, that’s the problem. We’re accessing the bridges, seeing what’s compromised and what’s not. And this will be a life-changing event for the men and women who are responding. They’re going to see things they’ve never seen before.”
Later on the show, when host George Stephanopoulos asked Marceno about so many deaths, the sheriff replied: “So far, confirmed in the hundreds, meaning, that we are responding to events: drownings, again, unsure of the exact details because we are just starting to scratch the surface on this assessment.”
Earlier Thursday, the Sheriff’s Office reported that it already began assisting in search and rescue aid for those stranded by Hurricane Ian.
“Our Mobile Command Center is ready to respond and assist with search and rescue along with our other assets. We are here for our community,” Lee County Sheriff’s Office wrote on Facebook just before 7 a.m.
Officials also warned residents of the road hazards from debris, fallen trees, and downed power lines. In addition, many traffic lights are currently out.
When Stephanopoulos asked Marceno how long it will take “to get things up and running again,” the sheriff said it’s too early to say.
“Not knowing what we’re faced with, it’s very hard to give you an exact number and assessment. But I do know this road is long. This is not something that’s going to be taken care of in the next day or two. This is going to be long-term, long-term for many reasons.
“Not just on the preservation of life and protecting and serving the law and order state but it’s going to be on the mechanical side, looking at these bridges, looking at roadways, working directly with the CEO of FP&L and all the people coming together to make us get back to where we need to be.”