September 28, 2022 Hurricane Ian updates

By Adrienne Vogt, Elise Hammond, Aditi Sangal, Mike Hayes, Maureen Chowdhury, Seán Federico-O'Murchú and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 1:52 a.m. ET, September 29, 2022
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2:31 p.m. ET, September 28, 2022

Man riding out hurricane in Fort Myers says he's seeing "incredibly high" waves in Gulf of Mexico

(CNN)
(CNN)

Frank Loni, an architect from California who is working in Fort Myers, Florida, said he's "never seen something of this nature before" as Hurricane Ian hammers the area.

He's seeing cars and boats float down the street and "trees nearly bent in half," as well as some people seeking shelter, he told CNN's Ana Cabrera.

The storm surge is about 5 feet high right now, he estimated. The National Hurricane Center said storm surge could reach 18 feet in the area.

He is on the seventh floor of a steel reinforced concrete building and plans to ride out the storm with family members and friends. They have supplies and food to last for a few days.

Loni said he's been visiting this area since his childhood, and he's never seen waves as high as the ones in the Gulf of Mexico.

"The waves we are seeing on the Gulf side of the island are incredibly high and something I've never seen before," he said

"We were actually here for the aftermath of Hurricane Charley. We had evacuated during that storm. And what we're seeing here right now appears to be much worse damage than what Charley did to this island," he said.

Watch more here:

1:48 p.m. ET, September 28, 2022

Jacksonville readies for impacts from Hurricane Ian 

From CNN’s Nick Valencia and Amanda Watts 

The city of Jacksonville, Florida, is readying for the impacts of Hurricane Ian and is urging residents in certain flood zones to consider evacuating. 

Coastal Duval County is under a Hurricane Watch and the city warns that hurricane-force winds are possible within the next 48 hours. 

In an update on the Jacksonville Emergency Preparedness and Homeland Security websiteon Wednesday it said “It is recommended that those who live in Zones A or B and experienced flooding during previous storms consider evacuating.” 

Several schools and universities have closed for the duration of the week, as well as city offices and library branches, the statement says. 

On Tuesday, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry issued a State of Emergency for the city which went into effect on Wednesday at 12 p.m. ET.  

The city said right now, bridges remain open, but state jurisdictions will work closely “with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Highway Patrol to monitor wind conditions at area bridges. If winds exceed specified levels, FDOT will work with law enforcement to close affected bridges.” 

Jacksonville is in the northeast corner of Florida.

1:45 p.m. ET, September 28, 2022

Naples issues a citywide curfew on Wednesday

From CNN's Melissa Alonso

Naples, Florida, officials issued an emergency citywide curfew on Wednesday. 

City officials asked residents to shelter in place until further notice.

"As Hurricane Ian approaches landfall, extremely hazardous conditions are on our roadways. The City of Naples has issued an emergency citywide curfew to protect and safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of City of Naples residents, visitors, and first responders," said the city notice.

The curfew does not apply to first responders and emergency workers, said the notice. 

1:24 p.m. ET, September 28, 2022

Videos show formidable storm surge at Hurricane Ian's eye wall

Storm chaser Reed Timmer documented on Twitter the storm surge at Pine Island, Florida, as Hurricane Ian's eye wall hammered the area.

His videos show crashing waves, heavy rain, gusty winds and limited visibility.

The eye wall "consists of a ring of tall thunderstorms that produce heavy rains and usually the strongest winds," according to the National Weather Service.

Pine Island is west of Cape Coral and Fort Myers.

1:30 p.m. ET, September 28, 2022

Most of Florida’s citrus belt is threatened by Hurricane Ian, satellite images show

From CNN’s Matt Egan

Hurricane Ian's expected damaging wind and flooding is threatening most of Florida’s massive citrus industry.

At least 75% of the Florida citrus belt is under threat of heavy flooding rains over the next 36 hours, according to satellite imagery provider Maxar Technologies.

Maxar’s WeatherDesk finds that at least a third of the groves are likely to see some wind damage, mostly in the northwestern portion of the citrus belt. 

How the market is reacting: Florida is a leading citrus producer, including oranges and grapefruit. Orange juice futures jumped 4% on Wednesday afternoon as investors bet supply will be hurt by Hurricane Ian. The price is up by almost 30% so far this year.

The timing of the storm is difficult for farmers in Florida as citrus crops are nearing harvest season. 

“There will be quite a bit of fruit drop and losses of fruit from the trees,” Maxar said. 

Citrus production was already under significant pressure even before Hurricane Ian.

In July, the US Department of Agriculture estimated US production of oranges would drop by 13% in 2021 AND 2022 to the lowest level in 55 years because of the drought in California and citrus greening in Florida.

1:28 p.m. ET, September 28, 2022

Storm surge could be "life changing," Florida's Lee County sheriff says 

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

A potentially 18-foot storm surge could be life changing, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno, said on CNN’s "Inside Politics" Wednesday.

“I’ll tell you, you talk about an 18-foot storm surge, I mean that’s life changing,” Marceno said. “I’m worried about everybody in my county, those coastlines, those lowland coastlines, Cape Coral is a huge city, over 200,000 residents, all the barrier islands, you worry about everything as sheriff.”

Lee County is in Southwest Florida and includes cities such as Fort Myers, Cape Coral and Sanibel. 

1:22 p.m. ET, September 28, 2022

Florida is experiencing wind gusts over 100 miles per hour

From CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar

Category 1 hurricane-force winds and higher gusts are spreading inland across central Florida as of 1 p.m. ET.

The center of Hurricane Ian is only 35 miles west of Fort Myers and 45 miles southwest of Punta Gorda as of the 1 p.m. ET update from the National Hurricane Center.

Here's a sample of observations from the past hour:

  • Naples Grand Beach: 112 mph
  • Punta Rassa: 107 mph
  • Sanibel Island: 107 mph
  • Captiva: 100 mph
  • St. James City: 97 mph
1:22 p.m. ET, September 28, 2022

"It may appear to be calm at some point — you may just be in the eye of the storm," Florida governor warns

(Governor DeSantis' Office)
(Governor DeSantis' Office)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis urged residents to be cautious and stay inside as Hurricane Ian is set to make landfall soon.

"It may appear to be calm at some point — you may just be in the eye of the storm, and the back side of that will get very, very nasty," he said.

He urged residents to stay inside until the storm passes, adding other warnings for residents to heed when navigating the situation.

"Once the storm has passed and it is safe to go outside, you still need to be cautious. Avoid downed power lines, standing water. Stay clear of downed trees and don't drive in standing water. And please, if you are going to use a generator for your home, do not allow that to be inside — the exhaust needs to be outdoors. Stay out of the way of emergency crews out of Florida waters and away from all downed power lines. Stay off the roads. There is no need to rush back," he said.

DeSantis warned of massive power outages to come.

"We have 200,000 power outages recorded throughout the state of Florida. But outside of southwest Florida, crews are working to quickly restore power," he said.

"Of course 200,000 is a drop in the bucket for what will happen over the next 24 to 48 hours. There will be widespread power outages particularly in southwest Florida. We have over 100 portable cell towers ready to be deployed into the area once it is safe to enter," he noted.

1:18 p.m. ET, September 28, 2022

Fort Myers is in "the thick of things" as storm conditions hit city, mayor says

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Heavy rain and wind is seen at the Caloosahatchee Bridge in Fort Myers, Florida, on Wednesday.
Heavy rain and wind is seen at the Caloosahatchee Bridge in Fort Myers, Florida, on Wednesday. (Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Fort Myers, Florida, Fire Chief Tracy McMillion told CNN on Wednesday afternoon that the city is currently “in the thick of things,” urging people to stay sheltered in place. 

“We are in the thick of things,” McMillon said. “Now is the time to stay inside. One of the messages that we’re putting out there is to stay in and check in, talk to your family, talk to your relatives, let them know where you are."

"In addition to that, we’re asking folks to stay away from windows, stay away from openings and get to a central place in your home that’s built up by walls, fairly narrow. And so, this way you can hunker in and kind of ride this out. We are in the thick of it," the mayor added.

McMillion said that officials don't know exactly how many people are waiting the storm out at home, but county partners have told them that there’s about 4,000 people in the shelters provided in the county and plenty of room left in them. It's unclear how many people left the area completely, he said. 

“There’s really no way to really determine how many folks at this point in time are still in their homes, but that’s something that we’re going to be aggressive with when the time and opportunity gets available for us to get back on the roads and start doing emergency response with our first responders,” he said. 

After the storm moves through, “we’re not really sure what it’s going to look like, and this is one of the things when it comes to storms, especially big storms like this one,” he said. “We don’t know the cards or the hand that we’re going to be dealt from Ian, but we are ready to actually play the deck and do the best we can to actually make sure our community’s safe as we go out with recovery efforts.”