As Hurricane Ian continues to barrel through the states on the southern part of the east coast, the lives lost due to the disaster have risen to at least 65 people in Florida, according to CNN.
Four deaths, meanwhile, have been reported in North Carolina as a result of storm-related events. No deaths so far have occurred in South Carolina after the hurricane arrived in the state on Friday afternoon, Gov. Henry McMaster said, per the outlet.
Lee County in Florida — which includes Forth Myers, among other cities — leads the death toll with at least 35 people, the Lee County Sheriff's Office said, per ABC News.
On Saturday, Sheriff Carmine Marceno from Lee County Sheriff's Office expressed hope despite the "complete devastation" caused to the county.
"There's light at the end of the tunnel. ... We are going to be stronger than ever," he said, per ABC News. "We are one big family together. That's what makes us great. And sometimes these horrific events bring us all together for us to move forward."
Charlotte, Sarasota, Volusia, Lake, Collier and Manatee counties are among other areas with fatalities due to the disaster.
While parts of the hurricane are moving north, over 1 million residents remain without power in Florida. Additionally, 198,000 customers in North Carolina and over 56,000 in Virginia are without power as of Saturday afternoon, per PowerOutage.US.
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Hurricane Ian made landfall as an "extremely dangerous" Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 150 mph on Wednesday just after 3 p.m. local time, near Cayo Costa, Fla., according to the National Hurricane Center.
By Thursday morning, more than 2.5 million people in Florida were without power as a result of the widespread devastation caused by the storm, which snapped apart trees, leveled homes, and tore down power lines across the coastline. Storm surges reached nearly 7 ft. high in areas like Fort Myers, while 12 ft. water levels were recorded in Naples.
"We've never seen storm surge of this magnitude," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told reporters Friday. "The amount of water that's been rising, and will likely continue to rise today even as the storm is passing, is basically a 500-year flooding event."
President Joe Biden said Ian "could be the deadliest hurricane in Florida's history" during an address from FEMA headquarters on Thursday.
"The numbers we have are still unclear, but we're hearing early reports of what may be substantial loss of life," the president added. "We know many families are hurting. Many, many, are hurting today."
On Saturday, Biden also declared an emergency in North Carolina and approved funding for federal assistance needed in the state.
"The President's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population," a press release from the White House read.
"Deanne Criswell, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named John F. Boyle as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected areas."
Ian was downgraded to a tropical storm after making its initial landfall in the U.S. but strengthened over the Atlantic once it passed over the Florida peninsula.