Rescue teams search for people who may still be trapped in homes after Hurricane Ian

Nearly a week after Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida, search and rescue teams are still on the job. More than 100 people were killed in the state during the storm and its aftermath. Utility workers say it will likely take until the weekend for power to be restored to the more than 400,000 customers that remain without electricity. William Brangham reports.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Nearly a week after Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida, search-and-rescue teams are still on the job in Southwestern Florida. More than 100 people in the state were killed in the storm and its aftermath, according to the latest count from several news organizations.

    And utility workers say that it will likely take until the weekend for all power to be restored. More than 400,000 customers remain without electricity tonight.

    William Brangham has the latest.

  • William Brangham:

    Days into the search-and-rescue efforts in ground zero of Hurricane Ian, Fort Myers, Florida, emergency officials are still sorting through the wreckage.

  • Jenny Arguello, South Florida Task Force:

    There's massive destruction, wood pilings that we can't actually see under. And there are voids sometimes under there. So, what we do is, we rely on, obviously, all of our senses.

  • William Brangham:

    Rescuers are going door to door, accounting for those who decided to shelter in place and who might still be missing.

    As of Monday, Florida state officials said more than 1,900 people had been rescued. But, at the same time, Ian's death toll is continuing to rise. In Fort Myers Beach, residents are showing up for one another.

  • Jackie Ocanas, Fort Myers Beach Resident:

    We're helping our neighbors to get there, and just overwhelming, because everybody needs help. Who do you choose to help?

  • William Brangham:

    Some say they're worried officials will force them to evacuate.

  • Temple Condon, Fort Myers Beach Resident:

    We really don't want to leave, because this is all we have left. And some — they're not letting — now they're not even letting homeowners back to the beach.

  • William Brangham:

    The sheriff of Lee County spoke to those efforts today, after other residents complained that help has been slow in coming.

  • Carmine Marceno, Lee County, Florida, Sheriff:

    It's a matter of accessing the people that need that. But we are in place. And those strike teams are taking people on and off the beach. I wish I could press a button and do it all right now. It just takes time.

  • William Brangham:

    Crews are also working tirelessly to restore power after the beating Ian dealt to the electrical grid. Officials are hoping to have far more people powered back up by this weekend.

    In Cuba, where the power situation became a point of national contention, most residents had their lights back on by Monday, this after protests last week over persistent blackouts when Ian knocked power out on the entire island on September 27.

  • Maria Carla Catala, Havana Resident (through translator):

    This has been terrible, no light, no food. We lost everything in our freezer. Awful.

  • William Brangham:

    Protests had subsided by Sunday evening.

  • Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL):

    OK, OK, OK. Stop, stop, stop.

  • William Brangham:

    Back in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis pushed back on reporters who again asked about the timing of evacuation orders in Lee County.

  • Gov. Ron DeSantis:

    We should be focusing on lifting people up and stop incessantly talking and trying to cast aspersions on people that were doing the best job they could with imperfect information.

  • William Brangham:

    President Biden is scheduled to travel to Florida tomorrow.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm William Brangham.

Listen to this Segment