Ian has weakened to a tropical storm, continues to pummel Florida

Rescue and emergency response missions have been delayed in hard-hit parts of Florida due to dangerous storm conditions, state and local officials said.

In Charlotte County, Emergency Management Director Patrick Fuller said Wednesday night that emergency response teams will not be able to respond to calls for help “until hazardous conditions are over.” Officials hope to resume responses Thursday morning.

Other counties have been inundated with emergency calls, with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office saying they are in “triage mode.”

“We are receiving a significant number of calls from people trapped by water in their homes,” the office said in a statement Wednesday.

“Some are reporting life-threatening medical emergencies in deep water. We’ll get to them first. Some are reporting water coming into the house, but it’s not life-threatening. They’ll have to wait. Possibly until the water recedes.”

Fort Myers first responders are now surveying the damage, according to the Fort Myers Fire Department Thursday morning.

“Crews have reported debris on roads, flooding, downed power lines, power poles on roads, lights out, disabled vehicles and collapsed buildings,” the department said, urging residents to stay in the interior

Gov. Ron DeSantis warned at a news conference Wednesday that calls to 911 may not be answered immediately in some areas.

“Local first responders will deploy as soon as it’s safe to do so,” DeSantis said, adding, “Generally, until the storm passes, they won’t go into a rescue situation and put their own people”.

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