FLORIDA — Since 1:00 am this morning, search and rescue operations have been underway in response to Hurricane Ian. Urban Search and Rescue Team 2 was the first on-site in southwest Florida. Eight USAR teams with more than 800 team members are performing search and rescue in the hardest hit areas. For the past five hours, Search and Rescue crews have been running operations to save as many lives as possible.
Immediately following a disaster of this size, death tolls can be difficult to assess. Officials are working quickly to restore telecommunications and assess infrastructure across southwest Florida. DeSantis said there have been multiple people helicoptered to safety from southwest Florida’s barrier islands, but it was too early to count fatalities.
The Coast Guard made dozens of rescues overnight and is continuing to assist the National Guard to land helicopters on barrier islands to perform search and rescue. Florida National Guard members are conducting incident awareness and assessment missions this morning in Sarasota, De Soto, Charlotte, Collier, and Lee Counties.
Throughout the day, the Florida Guard will work to clear roads and bridges. Following Governor DeSantis' authorization, a total of 5,000 Florida Guardsmen have been activated to State Active Duty for Hurricane Ian response operations. Up to 2,000 Guardsmen from neighboring states have also been activated to assist.