(Natural News) Lee County, Florida had been hit by the worst of Hurricane Ian on Sept. 28, flattening buildings and washing away homes in its wake. As residents started to come to terms with the destruction, a new problem emerged – looting.
Authorities warned that “looting and violence” would not be tolerated, but this did not deter some people from doing so.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said they are especially concerned about looters going into areas that were hard-hit by the hurricane.
“You could have people bringing boats into some of these islands and trying to ransack people’s homes. I can tell you in the state of Florida, you never know what may be lurking behind somebody’s home,” DeSantis said.
Officials activated a 6 p.m. countywide curfew, which applies to over 413,000 citizens. Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said in a press conference that the issue is severe and is being taken seriously by law enforcement. (Related: Panic buyers stripped supermarket shelves bare before Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida.)
Marceno had a message for individuals who are ready to loot or prey on people in the aftermath of the event: “You better think twice. When I say zero tolerance, zero tolerance means we will hunt you down, track you down and you’re going to jail if you’re lucky.”
Already, five young suspects were arrested in Fort Myers for looting, the video of which had been spreading online and retweeted by Attorney General Ashley Moody.
“Florida will not tolerate looters taking advantage of #HurricaneIan to prey on vulnerable Floridians. They will be arrested and I have asked state attorneys to seek the longest pretrial detention possible to keep them locked up so they cannot commit new crimes,” she wrote on Twitter.
FEMA looking at immediate and long-term needs of Florida
Meanwhile, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell said they are looking at both immediate and long-term needs of Florida, including priorities such as helping search and rescue missions and working to restore power and services in Lee County.
“We’re already beginning our planning processes for what the recovery is going to look like, so while we’re still saving lives and stabilizing this incident, we know that we’re going to have a long and complex recovery. So we’re putting the measures in place right now to make sure we’ve got the right people on the ground to do that in the days to come,” she told NPR.
Criswell said Florida already has a plan to help residents as flood waters recede, adding that FEMA already assigned a federal disaster recovery coordinator to help.
Meanwhile, active search and rescue efforts are now ongoing, with the state’s Division of Emergency Management “working around the clock” and patrolling the areas affected by the mega storm in what DeSantis said was the “biggest flood event” that the state’s southwest region has ever seen.
A massive cleanup effort is also underway as Florida gets ready to get back on its feet.
Visit Disaster.news for more updates about the damages caused by Hurricane Ian.
Watch the video below for good news in Florida following the massive storm.
This video is from the GalacticStorm channel on Brighteon.com.
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