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"Water was up over the rooftop": Florida official describes harrowing scene as search missions continue

Hurricane Ian heading to South Carolina coast
Hurricane Ian churns toward South Carolina coast 03:57

Devastation continues to unfold in Florida as rescue missions continue in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.

Kevin Guthrie, director of Florida's Division of Emergency Management, said there have been more than 700 rescues so far and that they are in "hasty search" mode, while the governor said more than 1,000 rescue personnel are going up and down the Florida coast.

Guthrie described one scene — at a location that was not specified — of a completely flooded house with what was believed to be bodies inside.

"The water was up over the rooftop," Guthrie said Friday at a press conference. "We had a Coast Guard rescue swimmer swim down into it and he could identity there appeared to be human remains." 

Guthrie said they didn't know how many people may have been there. 

He added that there are "a couple of other situations where we had that particular type of situation." 

Further investigation is needed, he said, but teams need floodwaters to recede and are awaiting special equipment to complete the search safely. 

Floodwaters rose dramatically as Ian hit southwestern Florida as a Category 4 hurricane on Wednesday. One person posted a video of floodwaters bursting through the door of her residential building in Naples:

State emergency officials announced 21 deaths as of Friday morning, however they're not sure if all are directly related to the storm.

Additionally, in Volusia County, the sheriff's department has confirmed two storm-related deaths there.

Rear Admiral Brendan McPherson, U.S. Coast Guard Seventh District Commander, told "CBS Mornings" that his crews have been facing "devastating circumstances." 

"These aircraft are flying in areas where you normally wouldn't fly. In fact, they're going into areas where we can't get at it any other way, not by boat or by land," he said. "...We're here for the long haul." 

Hurricane Ian is headed to South Carolina, where it's expected to make a direct hit in the state's Lowcountry. Local officials and the National Hurricane Center have said that there will likely be "life-threatening" and "dangerous" impacts. 

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