Fort Myers, FL – Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said that hundreds of people are dead and thousands of people remain trapped in their homes after slow-moving Hurricane Ian made landfall in Lee County on Wednesday.
Hurricane Ian went ashore near Fort Myers with sustained winds of more than 150 mph on Sept. 28, according to The Weather Channel.
“We have fatalities in the hundreds,” Sheriff Marceno told “Good Morning America” in a live phone interview on Thursday morning, ABC News reported.
“So while I don’t have confirmed numbers, I definitely know fatalities are in the hundreds,” the sheriff explained.
“There are thousands of people that are waiting to be rescued,” he added.
“And again, I can’t give a true assessment until we’re actually on scene assessing each scene,” Sheriff Marceno continued.
But the roads in the areas worst hit by the storm remain impassable at this point, ABC News reported.
“It crushed us,” the sheriff said. “We still cannot access many of the people that are in need.”
Sheriff Marceno said his office was receiving thousands of panicked 911 calls from people who needed to be rescued.
“And we can’t access, that’s the problem,” the sheriff said. “We’re accessing the bridges, seeing what’s compromised and what’s not. And this will be a life-changing event for the men and women who are responding. They’re going to see things they’ve never seen before.”
The veteran law enforcement official said he’d never seen anything like the destruction of Hurricane Ian in his county before.
“This is a life-changing event for all of us. We tracked that storm up the coast of Florida. It was very unpredictable,” Sheriff Marceno explained.
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) September 29, 2022
Houses are destroyed and some are floating away as Ian's eyewall hammers southwest Florida. This is video from Fort Myers Beach, Florida off Estero Blvd by Loni Architects pic.twitter.com/6GqrxLRv9Q
— Kaitlin Wright (@wxkaitlin) September 28, 2022
— Jason Martinez (@JasonFox29) September 28, 2022
— FOX Weather (@foxweather) September 29, 2022
— Brennan Prill (@WxBrenn) September 28, 2022
— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) September 28, 2022
*RARE* first person view of storm surge. This camera is 6 feet off the ground on Estero Blvd in Fort Myers Beach, FL. Not sure how much longer it keeps working. You’ll see it live only on @weatherchannel #Ian pic.twitter.com/WwHtvgVxjY
— Mike Bettes (@mikebettes) September 28, 2022
Hurricane Ian was downgraded in strength overnight as it crossed east over Florida and was declared a tropical storm as of 8 a.m. on Sept. 29.
Damage reports from other affected counties in the state are just starting to come in as power is out across large areas.