Hillsborough Co. officials report no deaths, prep for relief deployment
A man stands in the middle 7th Street in Ybor City on the rains soaked streets, a few hours before the high winds from Hurricane Ian hit Tampa, Fla., Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022. (Willie J. Allen Jr./Orlando Sentinel via AP)

ybor hurricane ian
'All of us are anxious to get out and help — that's what first responders do.'

Hillsborough County has reported no loss of life attributed to the impact of Hurricane Ian, Sheriff Chad Chronister announced Thursday morning.

But while officials consider the county spared, they’re prepping resources for recovery efforts in Lee and Charlotte counties, just south of Tampa Bay. The storm ravaged the region, with many trapped in flooded communities, and some officials estimating fatalities in the hundreds, Chronister said.

“Now we start our contingency plan on what assets and resources we’re able to send down south,” Chronister said. “All of us are anxious to get out and help — that’s what first responders do. And we’ll figure out what that plan looks like, we’ll get with our County Administrator and deploy those assets as quickly as possible.”

Attorney General Ashley Moody also told reporters Thursday morning that thousands of National Guardsmen and thousands of power linemen are ready to go into Lee and Charlotte counties, and the state is receiving assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Across the state, about 2.5 million homes remain without power, she said.

“The state and the federal emergency administrations are working well together, so I think this morning we will start to have a better understanding of what our damage looks like,” Moody said. “This is going to be one of the worst storms to have ever hit our state. So the recovery efforts will also be historic.”

Officials also continued to urge caution among Hillsborough County residents. Chronister pleaded with residents to avoid being out on roadways unless necessary, as crews continue to clear debris and work on restoring power. Many traffic lights across the county are also out of operation at the moment, making commutes more dangerous.

“If you don’t have a reason to be out in the roadways, please don’t,” he said. “We’ve made it through the storm unscathed. We don’t want to lose a life now because no one’s treated that light that’s out as a four-way stop.”

As for other county updates, MacDill Air Force Base remains closed as it assesses damage, said Hillsborough County’s emergency management director Tim Dudley.

After sheltering over 8,000 evacuees across 47 shelters, Hillsborough County will also be concluding shelter operations and transitioning shelter availability for evacuees, Dudley said. The county is referring people to community partners Feeding Tampa Bay and Metropolitan Ministries for help and support.

“We were lucky, once again, however threats do still remain,” Hillsborough County administrator Bonnie Wise said. “This storm continues to require an all-hands-on-deck effort to ensure a quick recovery.”

Interested in helping? Individuals can sign up to volunteer at www.metromin.org, donate nonperishable food items and bottled water, and donate to the Hurricane Relief Fund.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected].


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