CNN  — 

After Hurricane Ian obliterated communities in Florida, rescue crews going door to door in search of survivors are reporting more deaths, and residents grappling with loss are facing a long, daunting recovery.

As of Tuesday, at least 109 people have been reported killed by the hurricane in the United States, with 105 of those deaths in Florida and 55 of them in Lee County. The Florida Medical Examiners Commission reported a death in Martin County, an additional death in Manatee County and an additional death in Sarasota County attributed to Hurricane Ian, according to a news release from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Ian also claimed the lives of four people in North Carolina.

The storm slammed into Florida as a furious Category 4 hurricane last Wednesday. Days later, some residents of island communities are cut off from the mainland, hundreds of thousands of people are without power and many Floridians have found themselves homeless.

As of Tuesday evening, about 400,573 customers in Florida were without power, according to Many outages remain in hard-hit Lee and Charlotte counties, with 208,263 outages in Lee County and 75,721 outages in Charlotte County. Outages also continue to be tracked in Sarasota, Manatee, Collier, Hendry, Hardee, and Desoto counties.

In some cases, government officials dealing with recovery efforts are among those who lost their homes.

Fort Myers Beach City Councilman Bill Veach said his 90-year-old cottage is in ruins, with only one section that was a recent addition left standing. Pieces of his home were found two blocks away, he said.

“When you are walking around the ruins, it’s an apocalyptic scene,” Veach said of his neighborhood.

Still, even in the wreckage, there have been moments of hope, he said.

“You see a friend that you weren’t sure was alive or dead and that brings you joy. A joy that is so much more than the loss of property,” he added.

Debris lies around Bill Veach's badly damaged home in Fort Myers Beach.

Rescuers have been coming to the aid of trapped residents via boat and aircraft. Statewide, more than 2,300 rescues have been made and over 1,000 urban search and rescue personnel have checked 79,000 structures, Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a news conference Tuesday. The governor also announced the opening of the first Disaster Recovery Center – or “one-stop shop” – in Fort Myers for residents and businesses that have been affected by Hurricane Ian.

Live updates: Hurricane Ian’s aftermath in Florida

Some residents who were anxiously waiting to hear from their loved ones have received unimaginable news.

Stacy Verdream told CNN she and her brother found out Monday their uncle, Mike Verdream, died in the storm. Mike Verdream decided to ride out Hurricane Ian in Matlacha, Florida, and planned to go to his boss’ two-story home if things got too bad.

Stacy Verdream said she spoke with her uncle briefly on Wednesday. Her cousin spoke with him later that day and he said the water was 4 feet deep before telling her he had to go.

“It was a very brief call because he said he was very scared and she’d never heard him like that, because he wasn’t that type of person. He’s always put on a brave face,” Stacy Verdream said. “But she said he sounded absolutely terrified.”

The family was unable to reach Mike Verdream because his phone was wet, his niece said. A detective told Stacy Verdream on Tuesday that her uncle was found in a canal on Friday. The condition of his body was consistent with other victims that had been recovered, Verdream said. Authorities used medical records to identify her uncle because his face was not recognizable, Verdream said. An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.

“He was always there for me growing up, teaching me how to drive and taking me to the fair,” she said. “The cool uncle that would buy me like a dirt bike and bought the Jet ski for us to, like, go out on the lake. He just loved us to death.”