October 5, 2022 Hurricane Ian's aftermath in Florida

By Adrienne Vogt and Aditi Sangal, CNN

Updated 9:33 p.m. ET, October 5, 2022
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9:33 p.m. ET, October 5, 2022

Public schools are set to reopen tomorrow in Collier County, but it's unclear how many students will show up

From CNN’s Stephanie Gallman and Amanda Musa

Public schools in Florida's Collier County are set to open Thursday, although it's unclear how many students will show up for class, according to the school district.

The reopening will not only provide a sense of normalcy for kids during this time of recovery, but it will also help parents head back to work, said Chad Oliver, Executive Director of Communications and Community Engagement for Collier County Public Schools.

 “Schools are really like an engine,” Oliver he told CNN. “We drive so much of the economy.” 

However, Oliver says several families showed up at a school donation drive Wednesday to say goodbye to teachers. Their homes had been destroyed and they were moving elsewhere, he said. 

The destruction caused by last week's Category 4 storm compounded a problem that already existed in the city of Naples — the difficulty in finding affordable rental housing, Oliver said.

Meanwhile, more than 22% of the teachers live in hard-hit Lee County, but Oliver says the district is confident it is ready to reopen with the help of more than 800 substitute teachers.

“Our teachers are cut from a different cloth,” Oliver said, many of them coming in on an already scheduled day off to get their classrooms ready for tomorrow.

Around 50,000 students currently attend schools in the Collier County School District. 

According to Collier County Schools’ website, free breakfast and lunch will be available to all students through Oct. 31.

 

8:48 p.m. ET, October 5, 2022

At least 125 people died due to Hurricane Ian, according to CNN's tally

At least 125 people died from Hurricane Ian after it tore through the southeastern US last week, according to CNN's tally, based on data from local and state agencies.

 On Wednesday, the Florida Medical Examiners Commission reported 15 more deaths attributed to the Category 4 storm, according to a news release from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.  

They comprised seven deaths in Monroe County, three deaths in Putnam County, three deaths in Hendry County and one death each in Polk and Sarasota counties.

If the toll of fatalities remains at 125, it would rank Ian as the 24th deadliest hurricane in US history, according to NOAA.

The is the county breakdown of the deaths so far:

 FLORIDA – 120

  • Lee County: (55) 
  • Charlotte County: (24) 
  • Collier County: (8) 
  • Monroe County: (7)
  • Volusia County: (5) 
  • Sarasota County: (5) 
  • Manatee County: (3) 
  • Putnam County: (3)
  • Martin County: (1)
  • Lake County: (1) 
  • Polk County: (2) 
  • Hendry County: (4) 
  • Hillsborough County: (1) 
  • Hardee County: (1)

NORTH CAROLINA - 5 

There were five storm-related deaths, according to a news release from Gov. Roy Cooper’s office.  

  • Three people died in separate vehicle-related incidents on Friday, according to the release.  
  • One person died from carbon monoxide poisoning after running a generator in a closed garage. 
  • No information was provided about one death.

8:05 p.m. ET, October 5, 2022

Scenes from Sanibel Island: Telling owners their homes are destroyed

From CNN’s Leyla Santiago and William Brown

CNN's Leyla Santiago talks with the Schulz family
CNN's Leyla Santiago talks with the Schulz family (CNN)

Steve and Lori Schulz's home on Sanibel Island took on several feet of storm surge and “pretty much everything” in the house is ruined. 

The couple’s son Joe helped them clean up after the storm and described removing 25 trash cans worth of mud from the home.

The Schulzs were helping to secure some homes of their neighbors who weren't on the island when the storm hit, leaving them with no time to evacuate, they told CNN. They left Sanibel Island today but eventually, hope to return to their home.

“Sanibel is a great community,” Lori Schulz shared hopefully. “We’ll rebuild. Everybody works together and everybody cares about each other.”

Other houses on the island: Andy Garcia is the owner of Sanibel Home Concierge, a property management company that monitors about 40 properties. He has had to tell several clients that their homes are beyond saving.

“It’s totally devastating to hear them on the other end of the phone, just gasping for air, and you’re telling them their home was destroyed,” Garcia said. “It’s totally heart-wrenching for me.” 

Garcia has worked in the area for 26 years and admitted he doesn’t know what the future holds for the island.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen for tomorrow, how long this is going to take to rebuild,” Garcia said. “It’s just totally devastating.”

7:51 p.m. ET, October 5, 2022

Black residents in 2 Florida neighborhoods say they have been left out of relief efforts

From CNN's Nicquel Terry Ellis and Justin Gamble

Latronia Latson said she feels like she has been neglected in the recovery efforts from Hurricane Ian

Latson, who lives in the Dunbar neighborhood in Fort Myers, Florida, said she can’t get to a relief center to get bottled water and other necessities being distributed because she doesn’t have transportation; the bus system is not running in her neighborhood. Her stove and microwave also mysteriously stopped working after the hurricane, despite power being restored. 

Latson said the more affluent, predominately White communities seem to be getting prioritized in the storm recovery. 

“They need to make it convenient for those that don’t have transportation,” said Latson, who is disabled. “We just don’t get the same service (as people in other parts of town).”

Latson is among the residents and community leaders in Florida who say the poor, majority Black neighborhoods such as Dunbar and River Park in Naples are forgotten as rescue and relief teams descend on the areas hit by Hurricane Ian last week. 

The residents say they were among the last to get their power restored and shelters and relief centers are being set up too far away for people who don’t have access to vehicles.

Officials in Fort Myers did not immediately provide a response to these concerns when contacted by CNN. CNN also reached out to a spokesperson for the city of Naples and has not heard back. 

The residents’ complaints lay bare the growing racial disparities in natural disaster recovery each time a major storm affects part of the country. Several studies found that the Federal Emergency Management Agency provides less aid to people of color facing disaster relief compared to White people.

Poor communities and communities of color are also often built in locations that are more physically vulnerable to extreme weather events and have less investment in their infrastructure, experts say.

To read more, click here:

7:08 p.m. ET, October 5, 2022

Every home on Sanibel Island is damaged in some way, city official says

From CNN’s Amanda Musa

An aerial picture taken on September 30, shows damaged houses in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Sanibel, Florida.
An aerial picture taken on September 30, shows damaged houses in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Sanibel, Florida. (Ricardo Arduengo/AFP/Getty Images)

Every home on Sanibel Island is damaged in some way, according to Vice Mayor Richard Johnson.

“People have lost everything, in some cases. It is varied degrees of damage, but every home on Sanibel has received some level of damage. Everywhere from minor to total devastation,” Johnson told CNN on Wednesday. 

Urban search and rescue teams have been to 95% of homes on the island, Johnson said, adding that the city is now looking forward to rebuilding.

“We're absolutely are concerned about rebuilding. This could happen again, and it will happen again,” Johnson said. “However, we will be prepared. We will rebuild, and we will rebuild stronger and better than we were before.”

Hurricane Ian hit the area just before tourist season and Johnson said the island will feel an economic impact. The island has a year-round population of 7,000 but that grows to more than 35,000 during the winter months.

“Unfortunately, this tourist season will be nonexistent. We are not going to be prepared to accept our tourists at this time,” Johnson added. 

7:00 p.m. ET, October 5, 2022

Couple used plastic storage tubs as rafts to float their baby (and cat) to safety during storm

From CNN’s David Williams and Sharif Paget

Callie Brown recorded a video showing her home taken from a neighbors house.
Callie Brown recorded a video showing her home taken from a neighbors house. (Courtesy Callie Brown)

A Fort Myers couple had to abandon their flooded home and swim to their neighbors’ house during Hurricane Ian — and used plastic storage tubs as makeshift rafts to float their 3-month-old son and their cat to safety.

Callie Brown and Chad Duckwall decided to shelter in place because they thought the storm was heading toward Tampa.

“It shows how unpredictable the track was. We expected it to be so much further north of us,” Duckwall said.

They thought they were going to be OK as the winds raged around them last Wednesday, but then saw water seeping in under their door.

“I mean right away we knew we are in trouble, because it was a matter of minutes that it went from an inch of water on our house floors to two feet. It was very fast,” Brown said.

As the water rose, they grabbed everything they could carry – mostly things that baby Charlie would need — and shifted to the attic.

Duckwall said he brought some tools and his chainsaw in case they needed to cut through the roof.

The water was 4 or 5 feet deep within 30 minutes and reached the top of Brown’s SUV, which was parked in the garage and which they could see from the attic.

Charlie was sleeping in his car seat during this part of their ordeal and Tucker, the cat, was in a mesh backpack.

They weren’t sure how high the water would get and a friend called and said neighbors were able to get to a nearby house on higher ground.

They decided to swim for it.

The plastic bins held the family’s Christmas ornaments and were big enough to hold Charlie and his car seat after they were emptied out. Brown covered Charlie with a baby blanket to protect him from the wind and rain.

Brown said the water was over her head as they swam and the current pushed them away from the home they were aiming for.

“It happened so fast and I think our adrenaline and just like survival kind of instinct kicked in. It was scary,” she said. “Once we got out our front door, the current was so strong, we didn't really have a choice on where we were going.”

They only went a few houses down the street, but it felt like forever.

“We had our baby Charlie in a storage bin, a Tupperware bin, we had the cat and another one and we were just holding onto each other and holding onto those bins and just kicking as hard as we could.”

Callie Brown and Chad Duckwall pose with their baby Charlie.
Callie Brown and Chad Duckwall pose with their baby Charlie. (Courtesy Callie Brown and Chad Duckwall)

They wound up in a neighbor’s backyard near and were able to go up the stairs to the second level of their porch, which was still a few inches above the water.

Duckwall punched a hole in the screen so they could get into the porch.

Brian Yount was inside the house with his wife and twin daughters and was surprised to hear a man’s voice outside.

“You know, they had a 3-month-old in one bin and a cat in the other bin. It was just wild.”

Yount and his family had just moved to the area from Colorado, and he said he’d met Duckwall that day. “I instantly recognized him and said ‘Holy cow, Chad, get inside you guys,” Yount said.

Duckwall and Brown spent the night there with the baby and cat and three other neighbors who came to the Yount’s house for shelter.

Duckwall and Brown said Charlie was unfazed by the experience.

“When we actually floated down the road he was awake but he never cried. He just kind of looked around, you know, a little kind of wide-eyed like ‘What is happening, Mom. What's happening, Dad? What are we doing?'”

Tucker the cat was less happy about getting so wet.

“He spent the next 24 hours licking himself and mad at us,” Brown said. "But he's alive.”

CNN’s Hayley Wilson and Toby Lyles contributed to this story.

6:37 p.m. ET, October 5, 2022

Couple return to their Sanibel Island dream home — and discover the lower level is unhabitable

From CNN’s Randi Kaye, Laura Dolan, Jerry Simonson and Amy Simonson

Vicki Paskaly and Julie Emig return to Sanibel Island to inspect their home.
Vicki Paskaly and Julie Emig return to Sanibel Island to inspect their home. (CNN)

For the first time since Hurricane Ian ripped through Sanibel Island, Vicki Paskaly and Julie Emig were able to return to their "dream home" on Wednesday — only to find the lower level was unhabitable.

Emig, 64, and Paskaly, 68, traveled in by boat, the only means of transportation for residents since the causeway has been breached. No docking areas were standing, so they pulled up to the shore before walking just under a mile to view the damage that Hurricane Ian left at their address.

Emig was very apprehensive about what she was about to see. "Pulling up here we can already see the vegetation is in tatters. It’s really hitting home now,” she told CNN.

What they found was that the house they bought two years ago was still standing, but the lower level was destroyed, blanketed with mud and mold.

“This was our dream home, and now it’s gone. We thought we’d have a quiet life here, then Hurricane Ian took it,” Paskaly said.

The couple inspects the damage inside their home.
The couple inspects the damage inside their home. (CNN)

According to the couple, the water line that was left on the wall reached approximately 6 feet high. 

Although their home is still standing, others were not so fortunate. Several homes were in various states of destruction. One-story homes were either completely flooded or destroyed.

Most of the vegetation including palm trees was ripped apart or on the ground.

“It’s just gone, our beach is gone, the building’s trashed, the trees are gone, it was all so lush in there,” Paskaly said. “Oh my God, the debris, it’s unbelievable. It’s heartbreaking, it is heartbreaking,” she added.

5:41 p.m. ET, October 5, 2022

At least 40 deaths from the storm were likely caused by drowning, according to Florida state data

From CNN’s Devon M. Sayers and Alta Spells 

Drowning was likely the cause of at least 40 of the deaths from Hurricane Ian reported in Florida state data.

As of Tuesday night, the Florida Medical Examiners Commission data — obtained by CNN via an open records request —reflected at least partial information for 72 of the state’s storm victims. Of those, drowning was listed as a ​"possible" or a known “circumstance” ​in the deaths of 40 people.  

At least 105 people have died due to the storm, according to CNN's tally, based on official numbers provided by county and state officials. 

It is unclear how many of the deaths not yet included in ​​the detailed state data may also have been caused by drowning. 

The Medical Examiners Commission is a statewide organization that receives data from district medical examiners after autopsies are performed. 

In addition to drowning, other causes of death during Ian were delayed medical service due to the hurricane, blunt force trauma and at least two suicides, the data shows.  

4:46 p.m. ET, October 5, 2022

DeSantis says aerial view of Sanibel Island damage “does not do it justice” after ground tour

From CNN’s Andy Rose

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks as President Biden visits Fisherman's Wharf while touring areas damaged by Hurricane Ian, in Fort Myers, Florida, on October 5.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks as President Biden visits Fisherman's Wharf while touring areas damaged by Hurricane Ian, in Fort Myers, Florida, on October 5. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis toured Sanibel Island on Wednesday for the first time since Hurricane Ian devastated the community and damaged the only bridge to the mainland.

“You can go over it in a helicopter, and you see damage, but it does not do it justice until you are actually on the ground, and you see concrete utility poles sawed off right in half, massive power lines everywhere, massive amounts of debris,” he said.

The governor spoke at a press conference in Fort Myers after meeting with President Biden, who also was touring storm damage Wednesday. With the President standing behind him, DeSantis said he appreciated the administration’s help.

“We were very fortunate to have good coordination with the White House and FEMA from the very beginning of this,” DeSantis said.