Southwest Florida's Fort Myers Beach is "pretty much gone" after Hurricane Ian's disastrous rain and wind, a local official told CNN on Thursday.
Fort Myers Beach Town Councilman Dan Allers described the extent of the devastation upon the city, which sits on Estero Island in the Gulf of Mexico and once boasted a population of 5,600.
"I made it about two-thirds down the island, and I'd say 90% of the island is pretty much gone," Allers told host Don Lemon. "Unless you have a high-rise condo or a newer concrete home that is built to the same standards today, your house is pretty much gone.
"Every home pretty much on the beach is gone. Some of the homes on the side streets are completely gone, and there's nothing but a hole with water."
Allers said many residents struggled to get to higher ground before Hurricane Ian made impact Wednesday on Cayo Costa island. The storm also caused substantial flooding and power outages around Fort Myers and Cape Coral.
"I've heard stories of people getting in freezers and floating the freezers to another home … and being rescued by higher homes," Allers stated, adding that the city "might be able to rebuild."
Jared Moskowitz, the former head of Florida emergency management, shared a startling video of Ian's aftermath on Fort Myers Beach, similarly commenting that the area "will need to be completely rebuilt."
The news comes as President Joe Biden approved federal assistance to South Carolina as the storm barrels into the state. His action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to oversee disaster relief efforts.
"This could be the deadliest hurricane in Florida's history," Biden said Thursday at the FEMA headquarters in Washington, D.C. "The numbers are still unclear, but we're hearing early reports of what may be substantial loss of life."
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