September 29, 2022 Hurricane Ian updates

By Elizabeth Wolfe, Travis Caldwell, Kelly McCleary, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Maureen Chowdhury, Elise Hammond and Seán Federico O'Murchú, CNN

Updated 1:30 a.m. ET, September 30, 2022
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5:15 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

"There's literally nothing to come back to": Fort Myers Beach council member says most homes are gone

Damaged buildings are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Fort Myers Beach, Florida on Thursday.
Damaged buildings are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Fort Myers Beach, Florida on Thursday. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Dan Allers, a council member in Fort Myers Beach, described devastation at a level "that no one really anticipated or expected" as he walked through the area Thursday after it was pounded by Hurricane Ian.

He said that he's aware of at least three deaths reported in the town located on Florida’s Estero Island. 

Allers did not know the total number of fatalities.  

He estimated that 90% of the island is gone, including businesses that had been there for decades and had weathered several hurricanes.

"When I say gone, it's not just the insides of the houses — it's brick homes, it's houses that were on stilts, wood homes," Allers said. "It's gone."

"It's total devastation," he said.

Most of the streets are blocked off by debris and homes that have been uprooted and moved by the storm, according to Allers. He said some houses on the beach side of the main thoroughfare have broken away and fallen into the Gulf of Mexico.

"Essentially if your home is not built out of concrete, to FEMA standards over the last five years, it's pretty much gone. There's literally nothing to come back to," Allers said.


4:26 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

"There weren't many places we could go with our stuff," says an Orlando-area resident who stayed put


Alex White and her daughter Stella decided to wait out the flooding -- and although the water is rising Thursday around their Orlando-area home, she has no regrets.

"A lot of it had to do with — there weren't many places — like I knew the shelters were open and they're relatively close by, but there wasn't many places we could go with our stuff. I've got my dog in here too," White told CNN's Don Lemon of her decision to remain in her home. "And the flooding is more than we thought it would be, but I still — I don't feel terribly — terribly, like, my house is about to float away. It's pretty sturdy. Been through things before."

Standing outside her front door, she admitted she has never seen this much water.

"The level that it's at right now is very surprising," White said, noting that it has risen very quickly over the past few hours.

But she feels pretty good about staying put. "I feel really good seeing the boats and things going by and the rescue people started checking in on everybody pretty early, so that was super comforting," she said.

"Currently we're still fine, we're just hunkering down waiting to hear when things are going to start going back down when the power's going to start coming back," White said.

White added that neighbors who also decided to stay are checking in on one another. The biggest concern among residents is their vehicles, "because our cars are shot," she said.

3:03 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

Millions are still without power in Florida. If you're using a portable generator, here are tips to stay safe

More than 2.6 million people across Florida are still without power Thursday and officials are warning people to take precautions when firing up portable generators.

Generators can be immensely helpful for storm victims without power. They can also be deadly when used incorrectly.

“Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the leading causes of death after storms in areas dealing with power outages,” the National Weather Service said. There is also a risk of electrocution or the generator starting a fire, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said.

Here are some other tips to keep in mind, according to the National Hurricane Center:

  • Never use a generator inside an enclosed space, such as a house or garage. Keep the generator outside, at least 20 feet away from any doors or windows, the NWS said.
  • It’s also a good idea to have a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector, as carbon monoxide is invisible and odorless.
  • If you feel sick or dizzy, find fresh air and get medical attention, NHC said.
  • Before refueling the generator, turn it off and let it cool down. "Gasoline or other flammable liquids spilled on hot engine parts could ignite," according to FEMA.

3:11 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

Fort Myers official says water, electricity and sewage systems are cut off in large parts of the city

A man helps a woman among debris at a downtown condominium in Fort Myers, Florida, on Thursday.
A man helps a woman among debris at a downtown condominium in Fort Myers, Florida, on Thursday. (Marco Bello/Reuters)

Liston Bochette, mayor pro tempore and city council member of Fort Myers, said the powerful Category 4 Hurricane Ian "shredded the community."

"Large parts have no electricity, large parts have no water. And even the sewer systems — the computers that process — are down," Bochette told CNN's Alisyn Camerota.

"Florida depends on storage tanks," he said. "When we don't have the generators to drive the tanks, it cuts off drinking water, washing water. And then with the sewage problem, it will only become a bacterial problem."

"It's a formula for disaster," he added.

"We're hoping the cavalry will ride over the hill and help us out here. ... The computer system, city hall failed, the generators failed, the Internet, and the backup internet companies both failed. So we got quite a communication problem just letting people know what to do," Bochette said.

But teams are working hard at the central emergency center, he said. "We're doing the best we can in a bad situation," he said.

2:41 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

More than 3,000 people in nursing homes evacuated in Florida

From CNN's Carma Hassan

Rescuers evacuate residents from an assisted living facility in Orlando on Thursday.
Rescuers evacuate residents from an assisted living facility in Orlando on Thursday. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

About 40 Florida nursing homes have been evacuated due to Hurricane Ian, according to the Florida Health Care Association.

“As of this morning, there have been about 40 nursing home evacuations, approximately 3400 residents,” spokesperson Kristen Knapp said in an email to CNN. “Most are in the low lying areas where counties have issued evacuation orders, others are in areas where concerns over flooding are occurring.”

The Florida Health Care Association is an advocacy organization representing long-term care providers.   

“Our goal is always to keep our residents and staff safe, so facilities have been working their plans, they have their generators fueled as required by the state of emergency (must have 96 hours worth of fuel within 24 hours of SOE issued per the emergency power plan laws). Providers have been hardening their facilities and stocking their resources for those that are sheltering in place,” Knapp said.

In southwest Florida, approximately 15 to 20 facilities are without power but have generators operating and minimal damage. 

“We are still watching the central/east coast as the storm moves through and the potential for flooding is the most concerning. Facilities will work with their local emergency managers if there are immediate concerns, since all emergencies are local and that is the most effective way to get critical needs met,” Knapp said. 

3:24 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

At least 200 water rescues were conducted in the Orlando area today, first responders say


CNN's Don Lemon joined a group of first responders on a boat conducting water rescues in Orlando — and they said they made dozens of rescues on Thursday.

"At least 200 starting at about 4:30, 5:00 this morning," a lieutenant told the CNN anchor.

One of the challenges during rescues is that they don't always know what's under the water, the lieutenant said.

"Part of the big issues that we had is navigating these waters. Even though we know we're in a neighborhood and you know the streets dictate where we go. You know, we've gotten hidden mailboxes, culverts," he said.

The area where they were operating is prone to flooding, but "this is the highest it's ever been," the lieutenant said.

He added, "It happened about some five years ago and these three lakes, these small lakes, they join together by small canals, they crested sometime early this morning and this whole area here is a super low-lying area, this one and the neighborhood we were at this morning, which was all single-family dwellings, completely devastated, completely under water."

The water was 6-8 feet deep on Thursday, the first responders said.

2:31 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

Florida CFO warns about insurance scams

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis cautioned those affected by Hurricane Ian to be wary of insurance scammers.

"The predators ... [will] initially try to sign up construction management contracts, public adjusters. They're going to come in like a bunch of locusts, and they're going to try to hit the neighborhoods, and people are vulnerable right now," Patronis said in Punta Gorda during a briefing with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

"If it sounds too good to be true, it is," he said.

"That first phone call that you're going to make needs be to your agent, your carrier, or to my office," he advised people who have suffered damage to their homes.

Patronis said the state will probably have 20 to 25 carriers that will initially be in RVs to give out living expense funding.

3:07 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

A Naples fire station was submerged in water, but the department is still making rescues

Hurricane Ian left a fire station in hard-hit Naples, Florida, submerged in water, but it didn't stop crews from making rescues in the community Thursday, the department's fire chief said.

"It got us quick," Chief Pete DiMaria told CNN, describing the moment storm surge flooded the first responders' base of operations.

Video shows firefighters wading through knee- and waist-deep water in the station's garage, moving around the fire trucks and checking on which equipment still functioned.

"We couldn't get our vehicles out of the station fast enough. We had to shelter in place for a little while," DiMaria said.

The fire chief said emergency calls came to the station while crews were still stuck inside, a frustrating and unnerving experience.

"We all do this job to help our community and when we're hearing people that needed our assistance and not being able to get there — even though we warned them that if you stayed in the evacuation area, we might not be able to get there — it still pulls at us," DiMaria said.
Naples Fire-Rescue Department crews help rescue a stranded motorist in Naples, Florida, on Thursday.
Naples Fire-Rescue Department crews help rescue a stranded motorist in Naples, Florida, on Thursday. (Naples Fire-Rescue Department via AP)

The department eventually got most of its equipment working and sent rescue teams out on the streets to find people in need, including a woman they pulled from a car stuck in floodwater.

"We're certainly back out on the streets and we're serving our community right now. We've completed the majority of our rescues that got backed up from the storm, and right now we're working on some road closures and checking the area for further flooding," DiMaria said.

The fire chief said the storm surge has largely receded and that many roads have now been cleared. The department plans to sweep the streets and check on neighbors again before dark.

2:26 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

Ian continues to disrupt air travel as it moves northward

From CNN's Pete Muntean and Greg Wallace

Tropical Storm Ian threatens another blow to air travel as it moves up the east coast and away from the Florida panhandle, where airports are assessing conditions and determining when service can safely resume.

Flight cancelations are about to surpass those of Wednesday — the worst day for US flight cancelations of the last six months, FlightAware data shows Thursday. As of 1 p.m. ET on Thursday, airlines have canceled more than 2,000 flights in the US and have already canceled more than a thousand flights on Friday.

“Tropical storm Ian is moving off of Florida into the Atlantic and is expected to turn northwest and make landfall again in the Carolinas tomorrow,” the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement, saying passengers should check on the status of their flights with the airlines. 

Here's a look at how some airlines are impacted:

  • American Airlines — which canceled more than 600 flights on Wednesday and another 348 on Thursday — says operations at its fourth largest hub in Miami are recovering.
  • Southwest Airlines, which typically operates a high number of routes to and from Florida airports, canceled more than 525 flights.
  • United Airlines says it has proactively canceled more than 392 flights to and from Florida airports since Tuesday.

Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport anticipates reopening by late Friday, CEO Rick Piccolo told CNN. He watched from his office as the storm pulled apart the airport’s roof. “While we won’t look as pretty as we used to because the ceiling’s all gone, we’ll be functional,” he said.    

Tampa International Airport officials said an inspection Thursday morning “determined TPA did not sustain any serious damage during the storm.” It expects “high passenger volumes” when it reopens at 10 a.m. on Friday. The airport is “very lucky to have come out on the other side of this largely unscathed,” airport CEO Joe Lopano said in a statement.  

Melbourne Orlando International Airport – one of the smaller commercial airports in Florida with service from Allegiant, American and Delta — said it plans to reopen Friday morning.

CEO James Parish said Punta Gorda Airport experienced “extensive” damage to hangars at the airport and does not have power in the passenger terminal. Once power is restored, the airport will make plans to restore service from Allegiant Air, he added.