SANIBAL ISLAND, Fla. (AP) — Rotting fish and garbage litter the streets of Sanibel Island. On land, the debris of washed-up houses is piled into the canal like matchsticks. Large crab boats sit among the remains of a mobile home park.

“Think of a snow globe. Pick it up and shake it – that’s what happened,” said Fred Suzette.

For the past three days, he and his wife Joyce have been making tours of their damaged mobile home in Fort Myers, cleaning up after Hurricane Ian hit Florida’s Gulf Coast.

As for emotional turmoil, he says: “You either hold on, or you lose it.”

Just offshore, residents of Florida’s devastated barrier islands are also returning to assess damage to homes and businesses despite limited access to some areas.

The broken causeway to Sanibel Island may not be passable until the end of the month. Meanwhile, residents like Pamela Brislin arrived by boat to see what they could salvage.

Breslin weathered the storm, but is haunted by what happened next. When he contacted the neighbor, he found the woman crying. Her husband had died, his body lying on a picnic table until help arrived. Another neighbor’s house caught fire. The flames were so big they forced Breslin to do what a hurricane couldn’t — flee with her husband and a neighbor’s dog.

The d*ath toll from the storm rose to at least 101 on Thursday, eight days after the storm made landfall in southwest Florida. According to the Florida Commission of Medical Examiners report, 98 of these d*aths occurred in Florida. Five people were also killed in North Carolina, three in Cuba and one in Virginia.

Ian is the second deadliest storm to hit the mainland United States in the 21st century after Hurricane Katrina, which killed more than 1,800 people in 2005. The deadliest hurricane ever to hit the United States was the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900, which killed more than 1,900 people. 8,000 people.

Piles of debris, caused by damage from Hurricane Ian, line a roadway in Matlacha, Fla., Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Ian, a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 150 mph (240 km/h), unleashed torrents of rain and caused widespread flooding and damage. The flood turned the streets into raging rivers. Backyard waterways overflow neighborhoods, sometimes more than a dozen feet (3.5 m), dumping boats onto yards and roadways. Beaches disappeared, as tidal waves pushed beaches inland.

Sanibel Island ordered a total curfew after the storm passed, allowing search and rescue teams to do their work. This meant that residents who evacuated the island were technically prevented from returning.

But the city of about 7,000 began allowing residents to return from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday. City Manager Dana Souza told residents in a Facebook live stream that she wishes the municipality had the resources to provide transportation, but for now residents will have to arrange a trip by private boat.

Pine Island is closer to the mainland than Sanibel, but it was also severely damaged by the storm.

Cindy Beckford’s house was still standing. Most of the damage was caused by the flood, which left a thick layer of dirt on its floor.

“It’s not our stuff we’re worried about. It’s our community. Pine Island is very close,” said Bickford, who arrived for the first time Thursday.

She was optimistic that much could be saved.

“We’re going to tear the house down so we can live in it,” said Beckford, who wore a T-shirt that read “Relax,” “Refresh” and “Renew.”

This photo taken on October 4, 2022 shows the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Fort Myers, Florida, United States.  The d*ath toll from Hurricane Ian in the US has exceeded 110, while millions of customers are without power.  According to a CNN tally Wednesday, Ian has killed at least 110 people, including 105 in Florida and five in North Carolina.  (Photo by Rolando Lopez/Xinhua via Getty Images)
This photo taken on October 4, 2022 shows the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Fort Myers, Florida, United States. The d*ath toll from Hurricane Ian in the US has exceeded 110, while millions of customers are without power. According to a CNN tally Wednesday, Ian has killed at least 110 people, including 105 in Florida and five in North Carolina. (Photo by Rolando Lopez/Xinhua via Getty Images)

Xinhua News Agency via Getty Images

The storm caused billions of dollars in damage and dozens of d*aths, the majority of victims in Florida. Even a week after he passed, authorities warned that more dead could still be found as they continued to survey the damage.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday at a news conference in the Sarasota County town of Nokomis that he is working toward massive water restoration and power restoration in the storm-hit area. About 185,000 customers are without power, which is more than 2.6 million statewide.

He said rescue workers have carried out about 2,500 missions, mainly to barrier islands along the Gulf coast as well as inland areas that have seen severe flooding. He said more than 90,000 structures have been inspected and survivors checked.

He said that residential areas damaged by the hurricane have shown a lot of resilience over the past week.

President Joe Biden visited some of Florida’s hurricane-ravaged areas on Wednesday, surveying the damage by helicopter and then on foot alongside DeSantis. The Democratic president and Republican governor pledged to put political rivalries aside to help rebuild homes, businesses and lives. Biden stressed in a briefing with local officials that the effort could take years.

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