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Hurricane Ian's death toll up to 58 as questions arise on evacuation process

Most confirmed deaths in Lee County
Aerial view of damaged bridge leading from Fort Myers to Pine Island after Hurricane Ian, Oct. 1, 2022
Posted at 7:51 AM, Oct 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-03 11:52:17-04

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said on Sunday that 58 people died from Hurricane Ian with the majority of deaths occurring in hard-hit Lee County.

Officials said 42 of the deaths were in Lee County.

As officials continue their search, it is likely the death toll will rise.

Hurricane Ian Florida Death Toll

CountyConfirmed Deaths
Collier3
Hendry1
Hillsborough1
Lake1
Lee42
Manatee2
Sarasota3
Volusia5

In the days after Hurricane Ian struck land, there are questions emerging about the evacuation process in Lee County. Officials ordered an evacuation of low-lying areas of Lee County last Tuesday, one day before the area faced hurricane conditions.

Lee County officials said it takes 41 hours to fully evacuate areas prone to storm surge due to traffic.

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said he would not done anything differently.

"Everyone wants to focus on a plan that might have been done differently. I'm gonna tell you I stand 100% with my county commissioners, my county manager. We did what we had to do at the exact same time. I wouldn't have changed anything," Marceno said.

Man takes photo of destruction around bridge leading to Pine Island after Hurricane Ian, Oct. 2, 2022
A man takes pictures of the destruction around the bridge leading to Pine Island, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, in Matlacha, Fla. The only bridge to the island is heavily damaged so it can only be reached by boat or air.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis stood by local officials' decision.

"It's is easy to second-guess them, but they were ready for the whole time and made that call when there was justifiable to do so," DeSantis told CNN.

The National Hurricane Center's forecast had Lee County on the right side of its forecast cone for days before it made landfall. While the center of the cone days out had landfall closer to Tampa, the National Hurricane Center says one-in-three storms fall outside of the forecast cone.

Parts of Lee County were not placed under the first hurricane warnings last Monday. A hurricane watch was issued for parts of Lee County not under the initial hurricane warning. The National Hurricane Center shifted its watches and warnings early Tuesday as the forecast began to shift farther south.

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