Lee County, Florida, Sheriff Carmine Marceno estimates the number of dead in his area from Hurricane Ian to be in the "hundreds."
He made his comments during an interview on Thursday's "Good Morning America" on ABC.
"While I don't have confirmed numbers I definitely know the fatalities are in the hundreds," he said. "There are thousands of people that are waiting to be rescued and, again, I cannot give a true assessment until we're actually on scene assessing each scene, and we can't access people.
"That's the problem. We're accessing the bridges. We're seeing what's compromised and what's not, and this will be a life-changing event for the men and women responding. They're going to see things they've never seen before. So we're going to get together, the Floridians –it's a great state – we have great people here, and everyone wants to help."
Asked about his fatality estimate, Marceno said: "So far confirmed in the hundreds, meaning that we are responding to events, drownings, and, again, unsure of the exact details because we are just starting to scratch the surface on this assessment. We're doing everything that we possibly can. Now it's to protect and preserve lives, and we are in full force doing that."
Lee County is on Florida's southwest coast, where Fort Meyers is located.
ABC News meteorologist Rob Marciano tweeted: "Horrific and heartbreaking words spoken by Sheriff of Lee County #Florida on @GMA: 'Fatalities are in the hundreds' – there are no words if this is indeed true."
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