Lee County officials are warning residents that Fort Myers Beach is a “really dangerous” place to be right now after Hurricane Ian crippled its power and water supply.
Speaking Monday afternoon on hurricane recovery efforts, Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais acknowledged that people cannot be forced to leave their homes, because it is against the law.
“But what we tell people is, it is really dangerous to be in Fort Myers Beach right now,” Desjarlais told reporters. “There is no power. There is no water.”
He noted that it would take some time before the electrical infrastructure is built back, perhaps “30 days at a minimum.”
As of Monday afternoon, more than 267,000 people remained without power in Lee County, according to poweroutage.us.
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Though the storm has passed, Hurricane Ian’s effects lingered into Monday as people faced another week without power and others were being rescued from homes inundated with lingering floodwaters.
At least 68 people have been confirmed dead: 61 in Florida, four in North Carolina and three in Cuba since Ian made its first landfall on the Caribbean island on Sept. 27 and in Florida a day later.
Search and rescue efforts were still ongoing Monday in Florida. More than 1,600 people have been rescued statewide, according to Florida’s emergency management agency.
Fort Myers Beach Mayor Ray Murphy told NBC’s “Today Show” that residents who evacuated were largely being kept away from their homes because of searches likely to last a few more days.
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Washed-out bridges to barrier islands, flooded roadways, isolated cellphone service and a lack of water, electricity or the internet left hundreds of thousands still isolated. The situation in many areas wasn’t expected to improve for several days because waterways were overflowing, leaving the rain that fell with nowhere to go.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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