Local rescue teams are sidelined by dangerous conditions as trapped residents call for help, officials say

Rescue and emergency response missions have been delayed in some heavily-impacted parts of Florida because of risky storm conditions, state and local officials said.

In Charlotte County, Emergency Management Director Patrick Fuller said Wednesday night that emergency response teams there will not be able to answer calls for help “until the hazards conditions end.” Officials hopes to resume responses Thursday morning.

Other counties have been inundated with emergency calls, with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office saying they are in “triage mode.”

“We are getting a significant number of calls of people trapped by water in their homes,” the office said in a statement Wednesday.

“Some are reporting life threatening medical emergencies in deep water. We will get to them first. Some are reporting water coming into their house but not life threatening. They will have to wait. Possibly until the water recedes.”

First responders in Fort Myers are now out surveying the damage, according to the Fort Myers Fire Department early Thursday morning.

“Crews have reported back with debris in the roadways, flooding, electrical lines down, power poles in the roads, traffic lights out, disabled vehicles, and building collapses,” the department said, asking for residents to remain indoors.

Gov. Ron DeSantis cautioned in a press conference Wednesday that 911 calls may not be answered right away in some areas.

“Local first responders will deploy as soon as it’s safe to do so,” DeSantis said, adding, “By and large until the storm passes, they are not going to go into a situation for rescue and put their own folks at risk.”

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