The fame of screwing up haunts US President Joe Biden. The other day, when no one dared to say anything, he said that Hurricane Ian "may be the deadliest in Florida history."
If anyone thought it was another reckless skid, they did well to keep quiet. Four days later, and there is still no definitive count, the estimate is around 77 deaths, including four in North Carolina on its way to the east of the country, when it has been losing strength.
But its consequences continue to drag on. In Cuba, where there are at least three deaths, there have been protests since Tuesday with the passage of Ian due to the lack of electricity. The storm caused a total blackout on the island, in which there are parts that this Sunday had not yet recovered normality.
However, the hardest hit area is centered in southwestern Florida, in Lee County and, specifically, in Fort Myers. The destruction is brutal. Any resemblance to what was up until Wednesday afternoon is purely coincidental.
Some neighbors have described them to the media like this: “It is as if someone took an atomic bomb and dropped it.”
Lee County also has the highest number of fatalities. Only in this territory there are 35 deaths. There is a suspicion that this high number is linked to the delay of the authorities in urging the evacuation.
While those responsible for other areas of the coastal strip gave this order on Monday, 48 hours before the impact of the wind at a speed greater than 200 kilometers per hour, in the Lee they were weighing all that day whether or not to communicate to the citizens the need to flee, waiting to see the evolution of the meteorological phenomenon.
The evacuation order was delayed until Tuesday, in an apparent violation of the strategy designed by the emergency managers, which could have contributed to the catastrophic human consequences given the limited time frame.
Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Andersonn responded to the criticism on Sunday by putting the burden on citizens. "Hurricane warnings started in June," he said on CBS. “There is a degree of personal responsibility. I think the county acted appropriately. The issue is that there is a certain percentage of people who never pay attention to the warnings,” he stressed.
Deanne Criswell, administrator of the federal emergency agency (FEMA) threw a cape when stating that Ian was unpredictable at the time of impact, since Lee County and Fort Myers "were not in the cone of the hurricane before making landfall" .
Since last Thursday, rescuers have carried out more than 4,000 interventions to save trapped people.
Some 800,000 subscribers remained without power in Florida. Criswell warned affected states to keep their guard up because the hurricane's undertow hides dangers.