Paramedics and other volunteers with a disaster relief group went door-to-door on Saturday on the devastated island of Pine Island in Florida, offering to evacuate residents who had left Hurricane Jan only to find yourself in a landscape of flooded houses with no running water or electricity.

The largest barrier island off Florida’s Gulf Coast, Pine Island has been largely cut off from the outside world. Yang severely damaged the only bridge to the island, leaving it accessible only by boat or air.

Lee County Sheriff’s Office reported Saturday night that the US Coast Guard planned to evacuate Pine Island by “water” on Sunday.

Residents were asked to come to the island’s fire department, from where they would be taken by truck to the Yucatan boardwalk and then by boat through Matlacha Pass. Then they will be taken by bus to the shelter.

Damage from Hurricane Ian in Florida
A resident walks past debris on Pine Island Road after Hurricane Ian in Matlacha Isles, Florida, on October 1, 2022.

Eva Marie Uscategui/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Pine Island has long been known for its quiet, small-town atmosphere and mangrove trees. It is a popular spot for fishing, kayaking and canoeing. Now in this ruined paradise, grim scenes of destruction are everywhere.

Houses are smashed to smithereens, and boats thrown onto the road. The island has no electricity or running water – except for a few hours on Friday, when one resident said he was able to take a shower. The mobile home community was destroyed.

As of late Saturday evening, the official death toll in the country from John was 24. However, after contacting local sheriff’s offices, CBS News found that the number of deaths directly or indirectly related to the hurricane was at least 73 people. Of those 73 victims, 35 were in Lee County. Yang has also been found guilty of at least four deaths in North Carolina.

Helen Koch blew her husband a kiss and said, “I love you,” as she sat in a Medical Corps helicopter that carried her and seven of the couple’s 17 dogs to safety from the devastated island on Saturday. The dogs were in cages, strapped to the outside of the helicopter as it took off.

Her husband, Paul Koch, stayed with the other dogs and planned to leave the isolated island for a second trip. He told The Associated Press that a few days before, he didn’t think they would make it because a strong hurricane was raging and the house started taking on water.

Medical Corps volunteers went to one home to find a woman who was known to have been stranded during the storm and had not been in contact with her friends since. Inside the woman’s house, heavy furniture was overturned and her belongings were scattered. There was no sign of the woman, leading to fears that she had been pulled from the house by a storm surge.

Some residents said they hadn’t seen anyone from outside the island for days. Some cried when Medical Corps volunteers came to their doors and asked if they wanted to be evacuated. Some refused the offer for now and asked for another day to pack. But others really wanted to leave the island.

Linda Hanshaw said the close-knit island community is amazing and “everyone I know who hasn’t left is trying to leave”.

But this was not true for everyone. Kathleen Russell tried to talk her elderly husband into going, but he didn’t want to leave just yet. The couple refused offers to evacuate, saying they were not ready but might want to leave on Sunday.

The Medical Corps is a nonprofit group of pilots, paramedics, doctors, Navy SEALs and other volunteers who respond to natural disasters and get people to safety. It began in 2013 in response to Super Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, and in 2017 it began deploying aircraft and response services to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to the organization’s website.