As Ian drove east across Florida Thursday morning, the high winds, heavy rains and storm surges strained emergency services in the southwestern state.
Shortly after midnight, the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office said paramedics were unable to face the storm damage. Floods, high winds, debris on roadsSome workers couldn’t even reach their families because many mobile operators were down, it said.
In Fort Myers, city officials said first responders have priority.urgent life-threatening situationsThat was when parts of the city were no more than 3-4 feet deep.
And in nearby Cape Coral, where emergency services were shut down on Wednesday, the fire department had created a “priority list” of people to call 911.
Diana Burnett, a telephone operator at Cape Coral Police Department, said in a short telephone interview that officers had resumed search and rescue operations by early Thursday morning.
Still, she said, there are many people waiting for help. “There’s a curfew, there’s a flood, there’s no electricity,” she said.
Before a hurricane or other catastrophe strikes, emergency responders typically place assets and resources where damage is most likely to occur, said Randall, director of emergency management at the University of California, Irvine. Styner said.
“Once the situation is safe, we will place responders in the highest priority areas to begin responding,” Steiner said in an email. “Responses are generally prioritized in order of safety of life, protection of critical infrastructure, and protection of property.”
However, that logic can be difficult for residents to accept during an emergency.
The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday it was dealing with medical emergencies, including cases of cardiac arrest in childbirth, after local agencies stopped answering calls in person due to high winds.
“As you can imagine, it is very difficult for our representatives to tell callers that first responders cannot help. The agency said on Twitter.
As dawn approached Thursday, it was unclear when or if emergency services would resume after the storm. Several counties and local governments have said they will resume emergency services once sustained winds drop below 45 mph.
But Wright Dobbs, a meteorologist who works the night shift at the National Weather Service in the state capital Tallahassee, said such thresholds usually vary by local agency or department. A weather service expert briefs local officials on weather conditions, but has no role in setting thresholds, he added.
“We are weather experts, but not emergency response experts,” he said.