Florida emergency management is calling on volunteers from across the state who can donate their time to hurricane cleanup in Southwest Florida. Gov. Ron DeSantis says rebuilding will take months.
“You have people that have been dislocated, you have people that no longer have homes, and so there’s going to be a wide variety of things that they’re going to need in the coming days, weeks and months,” DeSantis said Friday morning. “Volunteer Florida, if you want to volunteer your time, visit www.volunteerflorida.org, to find volunteer opportunities. I think this is one way where you can really make an impact.”
The death toll is rising as search and rescue teams continue to scour the area.
Florida Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie said 21 people had been reported dead as of Friday morning, but there are likely more.
“We do have an identified situation that was done during the hasty search,” he said. “The water was up over the rooftop, right? But we had a Coast Guard rescue swimmer swim down into it and he could identify it appeared to be human remains. We do not know exactly how many; we do not know what the situation is.”
Guthrie said search and rescue teams are still waiting for the water to recede and for specialized equipment in some areas to confirm the total number of people killed.
State emergency managers say 14,000 people remain in shelters across the three hardest-hit counties: Hardee, Charlotte and Lee.
The vast majority of all three counties are still without power.