How Many People Died in Hurricane Ian?

March 22, 2024

TALLAHASSEE — Months after Hurricane Ian walloped Florida with a crushing storm surge and torrential rainfall, the death toll continues to rise. It is up to 144, according to the state medical examiners commission.

The official count reflects both direct deaths and indirect ones, which occur before, during or after a storm. Direct deaths include storm surge, structural damage and car accidents. Indirect deaths include carbon monoxide poisoning from generator use, heat-related illness and injuries during storm cleanup. The number of indirect deaths from Ian could increase. Two dozen people in Lee County alone died from those factors. In addition, many people who were living in the path of Hurricane Ian waited to evacuate until it was too late, especially older residents with health conditions. In some cases, evacuation orders were issued a day after the storm’s expected landfall.

Indirect deaths in the case of Hurricane Ian also included a man who cut his leg on debris as he cleaned up after the storm and died a few days later of infection and other complications. The death toll also includes a 19-year-old who was driving outside Lynchburg, Virginia, when gusty winds and heavy rains toppled a tree onto his vehicle. He died at the scene, according to police.

The number of indirect deaths attributed to Hurricane Ian will likely continue to rise as the state’s medical examiners finish their work. The final numbers will depend on who is counting, because different agencies tally hurricane and tropical storm deaths in different ways. A former deputy director of the National Hurricane Center found that during the last 50 years, water — whether from storm surge, high surf or flooding rains — was responsible for more than half of all storm-related deaths.

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