Saturday morning, there were 23 confirmed fatalities in six counties from Hurricane Ian’s monstrous trajectory across Florida. By Sunday, CNN was reporting 67 deaths, but the Florida Department of Law Enforcement had not yet detailed the additional deaths past the 44 it confirmed on Saturday.
Lee County had 35 deaths.
Gov. Ron DeSantis defended officials in Lee County, who delayed evacuation orders until Tuesday, while several other counties had issued evacuation orders Monday. Charlotte County, immediately to the north of Lee, had issued evacuation orders on Monday, and the National Hurricane Center that day warned that the entire region from Fort Myers to Tampa Bay was at grave risk of storm surge regardless of the storm’s landfall area.
In Flagler County, one of Emergency Management Director Jonathan Lord’s most often-repeated cautions is to not focus on the center line of the hurricane path, but on the entire cone of probability, within which the storm has a strong possibility of veering. That’s precisely what happened on Florida’s west coast. Lee County was in the cone of probability, but it was at its center, leading officials there to hesitate about evacuation orders until it was too late for many.
“The delay, an apparent violation of the meticulous evacuation strategy the county had crafted for just such an emergency, may have contributed to catastrophic consequences that are still coming into focus as the death toll continues to climb,” The New York Times reports this morning. “About 35 of Florida’s storm-related deaths have been identified in Lee County, the highest toll anywhere in the state, as survivors describe the sudden surge of water — predicted as a possibility by the National Hurricane Service in the days before the storm hit — that sent some of them scrambling for safety in attics and on rooftops.”
In all, there are now at least seven counties with fatalities due to the massive storm, according to data from Florida’s Medical Examiners Commission (MEC), which reports hurricane deaths following an autopsy and confirmation that the death is storm-related. Flagler County has reported no fatalities.
FDLE provided the latest figures on fatalities in the seven counties Saturday evening–numbers that do not reflect CNN’s tally–with most of the deaths on the Gulf side of Florida.
Lake – 1
Sarasota – 3
Manatee – 1
Volusia – 5
Collier – 3
Lee – 30
Hendry – 1
The Saturday evening data did not include details such as county, age, sex, circumstances, and date of death, with one exception: At 5 p.m. Saturday, the 25th death was listed as a 62-year-old female in Sarasota who drowned after being trapped in vehicle.
Those details showed that most of the fatalities were older residents — in the mid to late 60s and up to the 90s, according to the data. Some deaths did not include an age. Most of the deaths were from drowning, the data show:
Here is the full, earlier list, when the count was at 23:
- Lake County, a 38-year-old male died in a vehicle accident when his car hydroplaned, on 9/28/22.
- Sarasota County, a 71-year-old male died of head injuries when he fell off a roof while putting up rain shutters, on 9/27/22.
- Manatee County, a 22-year-old female was ejected from an ATV rollover due to a road washout, on 9/30/22.
- Volusia County, 91-year-old male found drowned 9/29/22.
- Volusia County, 79-year-old-male found drowned 9/29/22.
- Volusia County, 67-year-old male found drowned 9/30/22.
- Volusia County, a 68-year-old female drowned after being swept into the ocean by a wave, on 9/29/22.
- Collier County, a 73-year-old female was found drowned on 9/29/22.
- Collier County, a 73-year-old female was found drowned on 9/28/22.
- Collier County, a 64-year-old female was found drowned on 9/28/22.
- Lee County, unknown age, was found lying prone on the deck of a neighbor, drowning on 9/30.
- Lee County, 82-year-old male found unresponsive, had history of natural diseases, natural causes, 9/30/22.
- Lee County, 63-year-old male, body recovered by FDLE, drowning on 9/30.
- Lee County, 87-year-old male, found in a submerged car, drowning and blunt force injuries, 9/30/22.
- Lee County, 61-year-old male, found draped over a bench, drowning, 9/30/22.
- Lee County, 88-year-old male, found on Fort Myers Beach, drowning, 9/30/22.
- Lee County, 92-year-old male, found under three feet of water, drowning, 9/30/22.
- Lee County, unknown age female, found floating in seven feet of water, drowned, 9/30/22.
- Lee County, 50-60 years old female, found in street in debris, drowned, 9/30/22.
- Lee County, 62-year-old female, tree fell on manufactured home, contusions on torso, drowning and blunt impact to torso, 9/30/22.
- Lee County, unknown age, female, found under residence in water and tangled in wires, drowning, 9/30/22.
- Lee County, 54-year-old male, found trapped in a window, mechanical asphyxia, and drowning, 9/30/22.
- Sarasota County, 80-year-old male, unable to use oxygen, collapsed in bathroom, obstructive pulmonary disease, natural causes, 9/30/22.
–Florida Phoenix and FlaglerLive