At least 33 deaths reported after Hurricane Ian slams into Florida

Search and rescue efforts are currently underway.

ByMeredith Deliso and Mary Kekatos ABC logo
Friday, September 30, 2022
Multiple deaths reported after Hurricane Ian slams into Florida
Hurricane Ian's landing leveled homes, flooded streets and has left a rising death toll that could take days to assess.

At least 21 people in Florida may have died due to Hurricane Ian, officials said in a Friday afternoon update.

The Category 4 storm slammed into Florida's southwest coast Wednesday afternoon, causing catastrophic damage, fierce winds and dangerous, record-breaking storm surges.

Officials have confirmed ABC News that there have been 16 deaths in Lee County, six deaths in Charlotte County, two deaths in Sarasota, four deaths in Volusia, one death in Lake County, three deaths in Collier County, and one death in Manatee.

With the death toll starting to rise, I want to make sure everyone is aware of the stats for deadliest hurricanes in Florida from the last 60 years.

In Volusia County, the Sheriff's Office said Thursday the fatality was a 72-year-old man in Deltona who died after attempting to drain his pool during the storm.

The man, who was not publicly identified, "disappeared" after heading outside, the sheriff's office said. Deputies found him unresponsive in a canal behind the home and he was pronounced dead at a local hospital, the sheriff's office said.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will ultimately release figures on the estimated death toll due to the storm.

Emergency response was largely halted Wednesday as the storm slammed Florida with high winds and heavy rain. Search and rescue efforts were underway throughout the state Thursday.

Florida Rep. Kathy Castor, who represents the Tampa Bay area, called the situation a "major catastrophe."

"I'm afraid we're going to be dealing with a larger loss of life than we anticipated," she said on "ABC News Live" Thursday.

Florida Sen. Rick Scott told "Good Morning America" Thursday morning there were "thousands of rescue efforts going on right now."

"We've got great sheriff's departments, police departments, fire departments, state rescue teams. They're working hard. But there's a lot of people that need help right now," he said.

He expressed concern for the state's many low-lying areas.

"The water kills and I'm just -- I'm scared to death of, you know, what's happened here and I hope everybody stays safe," he said.

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno, whose county is home to hard-hit Fort Myers and the barrier island Sanibel, told "Good Morning America" Thursday that they had thousands of 911 calls that they were currently answering.

"We still cannot access many of the people that are in need," Marceno said. "It's a real, real rough road ahead."

Marceno said there are fatalities, including drownings, but that he does not know the exact number of people dead.

ABC News' Ahmad Hemmingway, Benjamin Stein and Will Gretsky contributed to this report.