EE COUNTY, Fla. — Search and rescue efforts are underway Thursday morning in Lee County following Hurricane Ian.

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno initially told “Good Morning America” Thursday morning that deaths in the area could possibly be in the hundreds.

He added thousands of people are waiting to be rescued.

Gov. Ron DeSantis held a press conference shortly after, where he called the reports unconfirmed and explained the situation:

None of that is confirmed. I think with that, there were 911 calls of people saying, ‘The water is rising in my home. I’m going to go up in the attic, but I’m really worried.’ Of course those folks are now going to be checked on. So I think you’ll have more clarity about that in the next day or so as they’re able to go to those locations and determine whether people need services or are able to be rescued. My sense is that water was very very high. But my hope is that if folks did go higher — it’s not comfortable — but if you’re there, they want to come get you. Hopefully we’ll see a lot of those people brought to safety. I can tell you, in the barrier islands, there have been a number of people helicoptered to safety. …That number put out by Lee is basically an estimate that these people were calling, the water was rising on their home and they may not have ended up getting through. We’re obviously hoping they can be rescued at this point.

Ian hit the Fort Myers area Wednesday afternoon as a Category 4 hurricane.

Authorities have not yet released any official data on injuries or deaths. Many people in the area and across the state are currently without power.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office posted Thursday morning that it is continuing to survey the area and perform welfare checks.

The sheriff’s office provided a phone number family and friends can call for welfare checks, and said, “If the line is busy, keep trying.”


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