Newly homeless Floridians are struggling to restart their lives while rescuers scramble to find any remaining signs of life among the wreckage of Hurricane Ian.
In some cases, emergency workers are juggling both unimaginable tasks.
“Some of the guys on Pine Island, they lost everything, but they’re doing what they can,” said emergency physician Dr. Ben Abo, who was preparing to join first responders on a rescue mission Sunday near decimated Sanibel Island and Pine Island.
“It brings tears to my eye to see how hard they’re working.”
But because Hurricane Ian washed out Sanibel Island’s lone road to mainland Florida, “we’re helicoptering in and doing our grid search,” Abo said.
More than 1,100 people have been rescued from inundated parts of southwest and central Florida since Ian crashed into the state last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office said. More than 800 were rescued in Lee County alone, Sheriff Carmine Marceno said Sunday.
But as the search for survivors continues, rescuers are also finding more bodies. Officials say Ian killed at least 76 people in Florida and four more in North Carolina.
Those lucky enough to survive face an arduous road to recovery. More than 689,000 homes, businesses and other customers in Florida still did not have power as of Sunday evening, according to PowerOutage.us. Many are without clean tap water, with well over 100 boil-water advisories in places around the state, according to Florida Health Department data.