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How does Florida report its official Hurricane Ian death toll?

'People die in disasters that have nothing to do with the disaster,' Florida's emergency manager clarifies
aerial of flooded trailer part in Fort Myers after Hurricane Ian, Oct. 1, 2022
Posted at 11:43 AM, Oct 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-03 11:59:12-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — As conflicting reports emerge about the death toll caused by Hurricane Ian in Florida, WPTV wanted to provide some context behind some of the disparity in the reporting of the numbers.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Mark Glass said during a Monday morning news conference that the official death toll now stands at 58.

"That was the last official count that we have," Glass said.

Hurricane Ian Florida Death Toll

CountyConfirmed Deaths
Collier3
Hendry1
Hillsborough1
Lake1
Lee42
Manatee2
Sarasota3
Volusia5

Those numbers are provided by the FDLE via the Florida Medical Examiners Commission, which compiles the reports from the 24 medical examiner districts in all 67 counties in the state.

"They've got to determine, was that death related to the storm or was it to other natural causes?" Glass added.

aerial view of damaged trailer park in Fort Myers after Hurricane Ian, Oct. 1, 2022
This is an aerial view of a damaged trailer park after Hurricane Ian passed by the area Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Fort Myers, Fla.

Although there may be local law enforcement reporting storm-related deaths, Florida's state law enforcement agency will only report confirmed deaths by the state Medical Examiners Commission after an autopsy, FDLE spokeswoman Amelia Johnson told WPTV.

During a news conference Friday morning, Kevin Guthrie, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, provided some clarity as to how storm-related deaths may be classified.

"People die in disasters that have nothing to do with the disaster, right," Guthrie said. "So, the medical examiner is the one that makes that determination. They are the lead agency at the local level to determine, when they investigate, that this is either disaster-related or not disaster-related."

receding water still floods street in Harlem Heights neighborhood of Fort Myers after Hurricane Ian, Oct. 1, 2022
Receding flood waters still fill a street in Harlem Heights, three days after the passage of Hurricane Ian, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Fort Myers, Fla.

Guthrie said there are also direct and indirect deaths from the Category 4 storm.

An example of a direct death would be "storm surge, rising water, things of that nature," while an indirect death would be "the stuff that led up to it after the fact."

NBC News reported Sunday that the Hurricane Ian death toll had reached 83 in Florida. According to NBC News, this data was tallied through its own research.

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