Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk agreed to provide the company’s satellite internet service, Starlink, for help in response to Hurricane Ian in areas of Southwest Florida still without connectivity.
“We are working with Elon Musk and Starlink satellite. They are positioning those Starlink satellites to provide good coverage in Southwest Florida and other affected areas,” DeSantis told reporters on Saturday. “We are expecting 120 additional large Starlink units to deploy to Southwest Florida.”
Florida and the Carolinas, staggered by one of the fiercest storms in U.S. history, faced a massive recovery as remnants of Hurricane Ian threatened further flooding along the Eastern Seaboard while leaving tens of billions of dollars in damage in its wake.
The number of confirmed fatalities from Ian rose to at least 50, most in Lee County, Florida, which bore the brunt of the storm when it slammed ashore on the state’s Gulf Coast on Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane packing maximum sustained winds of 150 miles (240 km) per hour.
The death toll was expected to climb as floodwaters receded and search teams reached more areas initially cut off by the storm.
As the full extent of devastation came into clearer focus three days after Ian made U.S. landfall, officials said some of the heaviest damage appeared to have been inflicted by raging wind-driven ocean surf that rushed into seaside communities and washed buildings away.
New satellite images from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) showed beach cottages and a motel building that lined the shores of Florida’s Sanibel Island had been demolished by Ian’s storm surge. Although most homes appeared to still be standing, roof damage to all was evident.
Surveys from the ground showed that the barrier island, a popular tourist getaway that was home to some 6,000 residents, was left utterly ravaged, from its infrastructure to its famously idyllic aesthetic character.