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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7:58 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

Sanibel Causeway could need a complete rebuild, governor says

In this aerial view, parts of Sanibel Causeway are washed away along with sections of the bridge.
In this aerial view, parts of Sanibel Causeway are washed away along with sections of the bridge. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The Sanibel Causeway — the only connection to the mainland for Sanibel and Captiva islands in southwest Florida — will need either a major overhaul or a complete rebuild after the devastation of Hurricane Ian, Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a news conference Thursday evening.

CNN previously reported that Ian's storm surge washed away at least three parts of the roadway.

"That's going to require major, major overhaul and potentially a complete rebuild," the governor said. "They're going to look at it and see."

"That's the only way on Sanibel and Captiva island, so the operations to help people there have mostly been by air," DeSantis added.

Earlier Thursday, the governor described the storm surge that hit the area as "biblical."

(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

7:27 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

Hurricane Ian is likely the largest natural disaster in Florida history, state fire marshal says

From CNN’s Amanda Musa

A boat sits in the middle of a street in Fort Myers, Florida on Thursday.
A boat sits in the middle of a street in Fort Myers, Florida on Thursday. (Ricardo Arduengo/AFP/Getty Images)

Hurricane Ian is shaping up to be the largest natural disaster in Florida history, according to the state's fire marshal.

Florida is also seeing its largest-ever emergency response, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Thursday night. In Florida, the state CFO also serves as state fire marshal.

“The United States Coast Guard has been amazing,” Patronis said. “They have done over 30 aerial rescues in the last 24 hours on 30 sorties.”

Meanwhile, 24,000 utility workers are trying to restore power.

The Florida National Guard has delivered teams to Captiva Island where a major bridge collapsed. Patronis said his crews are going door-to-door there, checking on people that may be stranded.

The fire marshal said the devastation in the Fort Myers area reminds him of the damage left behind by Hurricane Michael in 2018, when communities with older infrastructure and older building codes also took the brunt of the storm.

6:59 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

"We know what's coming." Gov. McMaster warns South Carolinians to prepare for Ian's arrival on Friday

From CNN’s Paradise Afshar

Gov. Henry McMaster told residents of South Carolina to pay attention to the warnings for Hurricane Ian's track ahead of the system making landfall Friday morning. 

“We know what’s coming,” McMaster said at a news conference Thursday. “There’s a little bit of wiggle room in exactly how strong the rains and how strong the wind will be, but the biggest variable is human reaction. It’s people failing to take the necessary precautions. That’s the real danger that we have, is human error.” 

McMaster said that residents should prep for the storm before it arrives.

“Doesn’t make much difference whether this comes in at Hurricane strength or below at storm strength or somewhere on the line, cause it’s going to be blowing strong winds and it’s going to be all over the state at different levels, as you can see if you go look at those maps,” he said. 

6:59 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

City of Fort Myers to distribute food, water and ice on Friday, mayor says

From CNN’s Amanda Musa

A view of a flooded community in Fort Myers, Florida on Thursday.
A view of a flooded community in Fort Myers, Florida on Thursday. (Marco Bello/Reuters)

Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson said in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian he is already thinking about how to rebuild — starting with making sure people have enough food and water.

“We need to get the utilities back up and we need to get people rebuilding, tomorrow we will start with several food, water, and ice distribution centers,” Anderson told CNN's Jake Tapper on Thursday. “Hopefully, that will help ease what people are dealing with.”

The city's downtown area has seen substantial damage including flooding as well as downed trees and power lines, Anderson said.  

“This is a downtown that we have taken the last several decades to rebuild and revitalize,” Anderson said. “It concerns me that a lot of those businesses affected will go dark.”

Meanwhile, most of the main roads in Fort Myers have been cleared and emergency teams have been able to reach many affected areas, he said.

6:13 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

City south of Orlando sees historic flooding due to Hurricane Ian, officials say

From CNN’s Amanda Musa

Hurricane Ian's impact has "been a worst-case scenario for us here in Osceola County,” Bill Litton, Osceola County‘s Emergency Management director, told CNN’s Jake Tapper Thursday evening.

Litton said the city of Kissimmee – 18 miles south of Orlando – saw a historic amount of flooding as the storm passed through Central Florida.

Parts of Kissimmee that have never seen flooding are covered in water while other areas saw around 14 inches Thursday, Litton told CNN.

“One of our hospitals here, Osceola Regional — which is a trauma two-level center — was surrounded by water this morning. Our rescues could not make entry,” Litton said.

The water has since receded at that hospital; however, Litton said flood waters entered the emergency room of another hospital this morning. He did not provide the name of that hospital.

Litton told CNN that crews have also been working to help rescue people from flood waters.

“We're fortunate to have our city partners and county partners to be able to pull these individuals out of the water,” Litton said.

Kissimmee has a population of nearly 80,000 people, according to the US Census.

6:04 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

Hurricane Ian's rainfall was 10% higher because of climate change, analysis shows

From CNN’s Angela Fritz

Homes are flooded in Port Charlotte on Thursday.
Homes are flooded in Port Charlotte on Thursday. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Hurricane Ian's rainfall was at least 10% wetter because of climate change, according to a rapid analysis released Thursday by scientists at Stony Brook University and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The analysis used the same methodology as a recent peer-reviewed study that looked at the influence of climate change on the 2020 hurricane season.

Michael Wehner, a senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley who ran the analysis, noted that the physical relationship between air temperature and water vapor would suggest that Hurricane Ian's rainfall should have only been around 5% higher due to climate warming.

"This means that the storms are more efficient at precipitating the available moisture," Wehner said in a statement. He also cautioned that their result is a "conservative estimate."

"Climate change didn't cause the storm but it did cause it to be wetter," Wehner said.

5:57 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

Orlando International to stay closed while most other Florida airports plan to restart operations Friday

From CNN’s Paradise Afshar and Gregory Wallace

Orlando International Airport remains closed.
Orlando International Airport remains closed. (Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images)

Seven of the 11 Florida airports that closed or suspended commercial service due to Hurricane Ian are scheduled to reopen by the end of the day Friday, according to CNN’s tally.  

Jacksonville International Airport is one of those, according to a tweet.

Some airlines are expected to be operating on reduced schedules, according to the airport, and travelers are encouraged to check flight their statuses before heading to the terminal. 

However, the state's busiest airport, Orlando International, said it does not have a timeline to reopen yet.

It said Thursday afternoon that damage inspections are underway. The airport did not immediately report the nature of any damage discovered during the assessments. 

“Due to the extent of the storm, no timeframe has been selected for when MCO will return to normal operations,” the airport said.  

The Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers — a place heavily hit by Ian — will also remain closed except to emergency personnel and humanitarian flights, according to a statement. 

5:36 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

Ian is again a hurricane off the Atlantic coast of Florida and heading toward South Carolina

From CNN's Brandon Miller

Ian has intensified into a hurricane again with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph, according to the 5 p.m. ET update from the National Hurricane Center.

Hurricane Ian is located about 240 miles south of Charleston, South Carolina, and is moving toward the north-northeast at 10 mph. 

“On the forecast track, Ian will approach the coast of South Carolina on Friday,” the hurricane center said. “The center will move farther inland across the Carolinas Friday night and Saturday.”

Some intensification is expected with Ian over the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, but it is expected to remain a Category 1 storm.

Storm surge is anticipated to reach between 4 to 7 feet in South Carolina from Edisto Beach to Murrells Inlet, including Charleston.

Ian’s large wind field is expected to produce impacts well away from the center, and the forecast track has more uncertainty than normal because of the storm is disorganized after passing over Florida. 

5:36 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

These are the watches and warnings in effect for Friday

From CNN's Brandon Miller

Hurricane Ian is taking aim at the Carolinas, with forecasts predicting the storm could hit parts of the East Coast on Friday.

Here are the current watches and warnings in effect:

Storm surge warning:

  • Flagler/Volusia Line to Cape Fear
  • Neuse River
  • St. Johns River

Hurricane warning:

  • Savannah River to Cape Fear

Tropical storm warning:

  • Vero Beach, Florida, to Savannah River
  • Cape Fear to Duck, North Carolina
  • Pamlico Sound

Storm surge watch:

  • North of Cape Fear to Duck, North Carolina
  • Pamlico River
  • Cape Fear River

Hurricane watch:

  • Flagler/Volusia County Line to the Savannah River
  • East of Cape Fear to Surf City