HUNDREDS of people have reportedly died in Florida after Hurricane Ian battered the state with winds reaching 150mph.
The storm wreaked havoc in the Sunshine State after making landfall Wednesday afternoon.
President Biden has since declared a major disaster for Florida.
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno told Good Morning America Thursday that he “definitely knows” there are hundreds of deaths.
According to WESH, a 72-year-old man in Deltona has been confirmed as the first death.
He died after leaving his home to drain his pool.
Cops believe he slipped into a 30-foot canal that had become slippery.
Marceno said: “Thousands of people are waiting to be saved. I can’t give a real assessment until we’re on the ground and assessing each scene, and we can’t access people, that’s the problem.”
He described Hurricane Ian as “a life-changing event” for everyone, as he said the storm was “unpredictable”.
He revealed that crews are “not able to reach many of the needy people,” adding that thousands are waiting to be rescued.
Lee County police officers urged Americans to call 911 only in emergencies.
Lee County includes the city of Fort Myers, which has experienced widespread flooding.
FOX weather reporter Robert Ray branded Ian as “complex, destructive and violent” as he shared footage of widespread flooding from Fort Myers.
Dramatic Videos of the rising tides were shared on social media.
Fort Myers experienced a record 25-foot storm surge, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
And a shark was seen thrashing about in the rising tide.
More than two million Floridians are without power after transformers exploded and power lines were blown down by the winds.
Hurricane Ian has weakened into a tropical storm as it makes its way across the state.
Forecasters have warned between 12 and 18 inches of rain could fall across central and northeast Florida as the storm sweeps across the Sunshine State.
Up to 30 inches of rain was seen in some areas, meteorologists said.
The Melbourne National Weather Service warned that areas of Osceola and Brevard counties, including downtown Orlando, could experience “catastrophic” flooding.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis warned, “It’s going to be nasty, nasty two days.”
He predicted that Ian would be among the top five worst hurricanes to ever hit Florida.
Officials have warned storm surges and gusty winds could hit Georgia and the Carolinas if Ian leaves the Florida Peninsula.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/6328425/hurricane-ian-fatalities-winds-florida/ Hurricane Ian update: ‘Hundreds dead’ after 150 mph winds sweep Florida and wash away homes in massive storm surge