Video from a helicopter tour over Lee County, Florida shows the devastating damage inflicted by Hurricane Ian.
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Mareno surveyed the widespread destruction in his county Thursday morning (September 29). Footage shows dozens of homes and buildings damaged, destroyed, and even burning in the aftermath of one of the strongest hurricanes to ever strike the United States.
Some communities were underwater, while others were littered with broken trees and debris. Part of a huge bridge was destroyed while chunks of it were either torn off.
"We are devastated. Our hearts go out to every resident who is impacted. The Lee County Sheriff's Office is mobile and will stop at nothing to help our residents," according to the sheriff's office on Facebook. "We will get through this together. We are one community and we will overcome this tragedy."
Gov. Ron DeSantis said the hardest-hit areas "are basically off the grid," noting that the power grid in Lee and Charlotte counties suffered severe damage. It'll have to be completely rebuilt, which may take weeks to months. The governor also mobilized thousands of National Guard troops to assist in rescue, recovery, and other efforts, and more states are assisting.
Emergency response teams are hard at work helping residents trapped in their homes or affected by steep floodwaters. Millions of Floridians don't have access to electricity.
Ian struck Florida's west coast as a dangerous Category 4 hurricane, bringing heavy winds, dangerous storm surges, and severe flooding to many areas. It's weakened into a tropical storm but could regain strength as a Category 1 hurricane and strike the coast of South Carolina and two other states.