No Florida deaths reported, 40 people rescued in wake of Hurricane Idalia

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said so far there have been no reported deaths in the state attributed to Hurricane Idalia that slammed into the Big Bend region on Wednesday.

But there was still widespread damage and more than 146,000 utility customers were still without power Thursday morning, mostly concentrated in that area.

“There has been significant damage, particularly along Florida’s Big Bend,” DeSantis said. “But the community is resilient, and we are going to work hard to make sure people get what they need.”

DeSantis said at least 40 people had be rescued by emergency responders since Wednesday and search and rescue operations are ongoing.

With maximum sustained winds of 125 mph, Idalia made landfall Wednesday morning in the Keaton Beach area of Taylor County. It caused damage in largely rural areas of North Florida such as Levy, Dixie, Suwannee and Madison counties before going into South Georgia.

Counties in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georiga were mostly spared the worst effects of the storm, but there were still widespread instances of downed trees and power outages, including 20,000 customers without power in Columbia County as of 9 a.m. on Thursday.

Utility workers Thursday morning had restored power to more than 400,000 customers, and DeSantis said the remaining outages were mostly in rural areas that took the brunt of Idalia.

DeSantis has requested a major disaster declaration from the federal government for 25 counties, seeking “expedited federal assistance” to help pay for debris removal and provide temporary housing to people.

DeSantis and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell planned Thursday to “see first-hand” damage from powerful Hurricane Idalia, a day after the storm barreled through North Florida.

Located off the North Carolina coast Thursday morning, Idalia was still listed as a tropical storm, with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph.

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