TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida continues its disaster relief and recovery efforts following Hurricane Ian while officials work to confirm whether the number of known deaths so far is storm-related or from national causes.
A total of 58 deaths have been confirmed as of Monday morning, Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Mark Glass said during a news conference. Six of the deaths were reported in the Tampa Bay region.
As more sights of destruction come to light, rescue teams and first responders continue in their plans to bring back power and stability to Floridians hit hard by Ian.
During the news conference in Tallahassee, Florida Department of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie said two additional fuel depots were opened in Sarasota and Hardee counties, allowing first responders to have the fuel they need to help those in need. The state reportedly has 1.5 million gallons of fuel on hand even after 180,000 gallons of fuel have been given out.
As of Monday, 164,000 people have applied for FEMA assistance. Anyone affected by the hurricane can click here to sign up for relief.
Guthrie urged the public to remember: Do not disaster sightsee.
"Anybody that is just coming into an area to see the damage needs to leave the area so that first responders can do their job," he said.
As disaster relief and recovery efforts are ongoing, the state activated a disaster unemployment assistance program, Economic Opportunity Secretary Dane Eagle explained. This federally funded benefit program helps people who are now unemployed because of Ian.
Since the hurricane made landfall Wednesday, 150 health care facilities and 7,000 patients were evacuated, with 22 facilities returning to full operations, according to Deputy Secretary of Health Dr. Ken Scheppke.
Following on the trend of reopening, 46 out of 59 school districts are now open with the rest set to be back by the of next week, Florida Department of Education Commissioner Manny Diaz said. Flooding in different areas of Florida, such as Arcadia and North Port, is forcing schools in that region to remain closed.
Diaz also explained how school districts across the state that were not affected are coming together in Lee County to help with food distribution.
Also in Lee County, Florida Highway Patrol troopers have set up shop at the Hertz Arena to provide driver's license replacements for anyone who lost their ID or credentials for motor vehicle services because of Ian.
FHP Director Col. Gene Spaulding says people can go to the arena from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday if they need replacements.
Important links to keep in mind:
- Anyone wanting to give their time with recovery efforts to Floridians impacted by Hurricane Ian can sign up to volunteer at this website. People can also donate money to aid in relief by clicking the link.
So far, $21 million has been raised for the relief fund, Volunteer Florida CEO Josie Tamayo explained.
- The site above is for reporting that someone is missing. While many Floridians were able to evacuate safely, some decided or were forced to shelter in place.
- This page is for reporting that someone has been found and is safe.
- Floridians will be able to find announcements on the state's response to Ian while also finding disaster relief assistance to sign up for.
Following the news conference Monday morning, Guthrie said a handful of state emergency leaders were heading to Fort Myers to help with relief.
"We stand ready to continue to support the mission," he said.
Watch the full news conference down below.