A video posted by Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno Thursday afternoon showed continued flooding across Lee County as well as destruction to roads, including bridges that appear partially sunken.
"Florida Guard has about 5,000 soldiers and airmen on duty throughout the state, primarily focused right now on Lee and Charlotte Counties," Chief of the National Guard Bureau General Daniel R. Hokanson told "GMA3" Friday.
The extent of the damage is not yet known as towns wait for the storm to fully pass and for floodwaters to recede.
Damage in Sanibel Island and other barrier islands
The barrier islands in the county were largely decimated, according to Lee County's Department of Public Safety.
Sanibel, a barrier island outside Fort Myers that's home to fewer than 7,000 residents, faced the brunt of the storm as it made landfall Wednesday afternoon. The island is connected to the mainland by the Sanibel Causeway. On Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis confirmed the bridge was damaged and is no longer passable.
The Sanibel Causeway and the Matlacha Pass Bridge, which connects nearby Pine Island to the mainland in Cape Coral, will both need rebuilds, DeSantis said Friday.
"I anticipate there will likely be other bridges that have suffered damage, but once bridges are inspected and determined to be safe, they will be reopened as soon as possible," DeSantis said.
A group of 100 engineers are onsite in Southwest Florida to do bridge inspections, the governor said. President Joe Biden said Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell spoke with Lee County Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass on Thursday to discuss ways the administration can support the county in the aftermath of Ian.
"Right now it's going to be all helicopter operations to get distribution, food supplies, medical aid, [and] people in and out of there," Hokanson of the National Guard said Friday.
Destruction across Lee County, including inland
Lee County Public Safety officials said this was the most damage they had ever seen from a storm, including the most damage they have seen at Fort Myers Beach. Beaches in the area were destroyed and images show destruction caused by the forceful movement of boats and floating vehicles.
The county continues to contend with the massive flooding.
Lee County officials have asked for support for a water main break at the facility, DeSantis said Friday. The county does not have water at this time and FEMA and the Army Corp of engineers are working to get the water back up and running.
The Biden administration said it would assist with search and rescue efforts, power restoration, helping to address challenges faced by local hospitals and problems presented by damage to roads and bridges, according to a statement from the White House.
Lee and Charlotte Counties were 85% without power as of Friday morning, DeSantis said.
Rescues and fatalities
City of Sanibel officials said Thursday evening they have confirmed at least two fatalities.
More than 500 individuals were rescued in Lee and Charlotte Counties, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management, and search and rescue operations are continuing.
The U.S. Coast Guard and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue have been involved in search and rescue efforts, including in Sanibel and Captiva. Many rescues were made in waist-high water, public safety officials said Thursday.
Marceno said Wednesday night it was clear the area had been hit very hard and there were reports of buildings being compromised. A curfew was enacted at 6 p.m. but officials were unable to enforce it.
Where Hurricane Ian goes next
Hurricane Ian initially made landfall in Florida on Wednesday afternoon near Cayo Costa. At that point, it was a Category 4 storm, with winds around 150 mph.
Landfall occurred about 20 miles west northwest of Fort Myers and 20 miles west southwest of Punta Gorda, which was struck by Hurricane Charley in 2004.
A hurricane warning was issued for the entire coast of South Carolina as Ian moves north, with the National Hurricane Center anticipating another landfall, this time near Charleston.
ABC News' Alexandra Faul, Justin Gomez and Victoria Arancio contributed to this report
Sanibel Island, Lee County facing impacts from Hurricane Ian originally appeared on abcnews.go.com