Officials say the confirmed number of storm-related deaths rose to 44 in Florida, but additional fatalities were still emerging county by county - pointing to a far higher final toll.

Two hard-hit barrier islands near Fort Myers - Pine Island and Sanibel Island - were cut off after the storm damaged causeways to the mainland.
Two hard-hit barrier islands near Fort Myers - Pine Island and Sanibel Island - were cut off after the storm damaged causeways to the mainland. (AP)

Dozens of Florida residents left their flooded and splintered homes by boat and by air, while authorities in South Carolina and North Carolina began taking stock of their losses in the wake of Hurricane Ian.

The death toll from the storm, one of the strongest hurricanes by wind speed to ever hit the US, grew to more than four dozen, with 47 deaths confirmed in Florida, four in North Carolina and three in Cuba. 

Reports of additional fatalities in Florida were still emerging county by county - pointing to a far higher final toll.

READ MORE: Hurricane Ian slams Florida as Category 4 fury

The bulk of the deaths confirmed in Florida were from drowning in storm waters, but others from Ian’s tragic aftereffects. 

An older couple died when they lost power and their oxygen machines shut off, authorities said.

The storm weakened on Saturday as it rolled into the mid-Atlantic, but not before it washed out bridges and piers, hurdled massive boats into buildings onshore and sheared roofs off homes, leaving hundreds of thousands without power.

Elsewhere, South Carolina’s Pawleys Island - a beach community roughly 75 miles (115 kilometers) up the coast from Charleston - was among the places hardest hit. 

Power remained knocked out to at least half of the island Saturday.

Eddie Wilder, who has been coming to Pawleys Island for more than six decades, said on Friday’s storm was “insane".

He said waves as high as 25 feet (7.6 meters) washed away the local pier, an iconic landmark.

The Pawleys pier was one of at least four along South Carolina’s coast destroyed by battering winds and rain. 

READ MORE: Hurricane Ian delivers blow to South Carolina after lashing Florida

In North Carolina, the storm left over 280,000 people statewide without power at one point on Saturday morning, officials said.

The outages were down sharply hours later, after crews worked to restore power.

Biden to survey destruction

Biden and his wife, Jill, will visit Florida on Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tweeted, but the couple will first head to Puerto Rico on Monday to survey the destruction from a different storm, Hurricane Fiona, which struck the US territory last month.

Before pummelling Florida, Ian plunged all of Cuba into darkness after downing the island's power network. Electricity was gradually returning, mainly in Havana, but many homes remain without power.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies