At least 21 people in Florida are dead and nearly 2 million remain without power in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian as the state takes stock of the damage wrought by the powerful storm.
Kevin Guthrie, director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management, cautioned Friday that most storm-related deaths have yet to be confirmed. The death toll will undoubtedly also fluctuate as search and rescue efforts continue.
More than 1,000 rescue personnel have been dispatched to the Florida coast, with more than 700 rescues completed so far.
Guthrie said Coast Guard rescuers are encountering numerous flooded properties, including houses where “the water was up over the rooftop.”
At one such house, “we had a Coast Guard rescue swimmer swim down into it and he could identify there appeared to be human remains,” he said.
With estimated property losses potentially as high as $47 billion, Hurricane Ian could be the most expensive storm since Hurricane Andrew destroyed and damaged more than 150,000 homes in the state in 1992.
The storm, now a Category 1 hurricane, is expected to bank north and make landfall in South Carolina on Friday.
Both North and South Carolina are bracing for 8-12 inches of coastal rainfall, with some local extremes of up to 18 inches possible in some areas. Wind gusts through Friday are expected to peak at around 100 mph.
See the latest photos below.