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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9:19 a.m. ET, September 29, 2022

Lee and Charlotte counties are basically off the power grid at this point, Florida governor says

As of 6 a.m. ET this morning, southwest Florida has 2.02 million reported power outages, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday morning, adding that there may be additional outages in central and northeast Florida.

"Lee and Charlotte [counties] are basically off the grid at this point," he said.

The damage to power infrastructure in the two counties is extensive, according to reports from DeSantis. The governor said that the Charlotte and Lee reconnects are likely going to need rebuilding of infrastructure. 

"Crews that are on their way down right now, but that's going to be more than just connecting a power line back to a pole," he explained.

"The other counties likely are not going to require the extent of the structural rebuild, but of course, that's going to be assessed as the day goes on," he added.

Here are the power outage numbers he detailed:

  • Hillsborough: 220,000
  • Pinnellas: 150,000
  • Manatee: 129,000
  • Sarasota: 250,000
8:49 a.m. ET, September 29, 2022

Tropical storm winds stretch from Tampa, Florida, to Charleston, South Carolina, this morning

From CNN's Brandon Miller

The center of Tropical Storm Ian is located 10 miles west of Cape Canaveral on Thursday morning, according to the 8 a.m. ET update from the National Hurricane Center, but the impacts are being felt over hundreds of miles.

Top wind speeds with Ian are at 65 mph, with higher gusts, but tropical storm-force winds (39 mph and up) are stretching all the way from Tampa, Florida, to north of Charleston, South Carolina. 

The tropical storm-force wind field stretches for more than 550 miles on Thursday, which is around 200 miles more than when Hurricane Ian made landfall on Wednesday.

In addition to the winds, torrential rainfall has been — and still is — occurring across much of central and northeastern Florida. 

Some of the heaviest rain has fallen in and around the Orlando area where flash flood warnings remain in effect. Rainfall amounts over one foot have been reported and additional rain is expected.

The Little Wekiva River, north of Orlando, is already a foot over its all-time record crest, and it is forecast to rise nearly another two feet.

8:44 a.m. ET, September 29, 2022

The road to recovery for businesses in Fort Myers is going to be long, mayor says

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Vehicles make their way through a flooded area of Fort Myers, Florida, on Thursday morning.
Vehicles make their way through a flooded area of Fort Myers, Florida, on Thursday morning. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The road to recovery for businesses in Fort Myers is going to be long, mayor Kevin Anderson told CNN on Thursday.

While there have been no reports of loss of life in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, and rescue teams have gotten to work already, Anderson described a high volume of damage.

Speaking to CNN over the phone, he said he was at least two blocks away from the river and yet, he was standing on a block of concrete pier that had floated away.

"This thing weighs a ton. That's how powerful the water was last night," he said. "We have several businesses that have been damaged by the rising water, the flood. It going to be a long recovery for those businesses, I can tell you. I'm looking at the post office and the water line looks to be about four feet high on the outside of the building."

Anderson urged the residents to stay inside and detailed the work that is cut out for a variety of teams in the aftermath of the storm. 

"Number one, they should stay inside. It's not safe to be out moving around. The roads are very slick from mud. There's downed power lines, there's trees that are still subject to falling. So people really should stay home. They need to be patient. Florida power and light will get there, get the power outages as quick as they can. We're working on the restoration of our water service. First of all, we've got to get the roads clean so they're passable so that our crews can get out there and go to work," he said. 

8:41 a.m. ET, September 29, 2022

Here's how you can help victims of Hurricane Ian

Hurricane Ian made landfall as a Category 4 storm with winds of 150 mph on Florida’s west coast. As some 1.75 million people faced evacuation orders, torrential rains, flooding and record storm surges in Naples and Fort Myers left more than 2.6 million people without power across the state. And the need is expected to grow.

The state of Florida has a Florida Disaster Fund that you can donate to here or by texting “disaster” to 20222.

Several organizations already have teams on the ground. You can help them here or by clicking the button below.

8:22 a.m. ET, September 29, 2022

Coast Guard is actively rescuing people from roofs in Fort Myers, commander says

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas 

Coast Guard teams are gearing up for a busy day of search and rescue and have been pulling people off roofs, Rear Admiral Brendan McPherson, a US Coast Guard commander, told CNN Thursday.

“We didn’t even wait for the passage of the storm last night, we had helicopters in the air. We rescued 13 people along the coast between Fort Myers and St. Petersburg,” he said.

“We currently have an aircraft in the air with the Florida National Guard actively pulling people off of roofs in Fort Myers," he added.

8:47 a.m. ET, September 29, 2022

"Don’t be a disaster tourist," Manatee County asks residents 

From CNN’s Amanda Watts 

Manatee County officials are pleading with residents: “Don’t be a disaster tourist by putting yourself in harm’s way.” 

On Thursday morning, teams in Manatee County will “move in to clear the way on to Anna Maria Island to allow utilities crews to restore the island's sewer service first and then potable water,” according to an update on their website

“Utilities crews are mobilizing to help restore wastewater service. More than 200 lift stations were off-line across the county due to power outages—more than 28% of the system,” the update said. Teams are also working with Florida Power and Light (FPL) teams to clear roads.

"More than 134,000 FPL customers are without power," it added.

“It’s all hands on deck,” Manatee County administrator Scott Hopes said in a statement. “But it is important we all pitch in to do we do the work that matters.” 

Manatee County sits just below Tampa on Florida’s west coast.

8:19 a.m. ET, September 29, 2022

More than 2.6 million customers across Florida are without power

From CNN's Jamie Loftus

More than 2.6 million Florida customers are without power, according to the tracker

In the hardest-hit southwestern region, Lee County — which includes Fort Myers and Cape Coral — has over 420,000 customers without power. That's about 90% of all customers.

In Sarasota County, which includes Sarasota and Venice, over 225,000 power customers are in the dark. That's roughly 79% of the residents.

Collier County, home to Naples and Marco Island, has more than 202,000 customers without power, which accounts for 77% of the county.

8:06 a.m. ET, September 29, 2022

Majority of Marco Island roads are no longer flooded following storm surge

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

The majority of the roads on Marco Island in Collier County, Florida, are no longer flooded, according to an update from the Marco Island Police Department Thursday morning.

During Hurricane Ian’s storm surge, many vehicles were stalled in the middle of roads, and teams are now attempting to move them, the update said.

While Marco Island Public Works worked through the night removing trees from roadways, utilities and traffic lights are still out and cell phone coverage is intermittent, according to the update.

The Marco Island Police Department Marine Unit will be out on the waterways around 9:00 a.m. ET, police said.

8:22 a.m. ET, September 29, 2022

Lee County has been hit the hardest, FEMA administrator says 

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

A section of the causeway leading to Sanibel in Lee County is seen knocked out by Hurricane Ian early Thursday.
A section of the causeway leading to Sanibel in Lee County is seen knocked out by Hurricane Ian early Thursday. (Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via ZUMA Press Wire)

Lee County, Florida, was the area hit hardest by Hurricane Ian, FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell told CNN Thursday, and the damage is going to be catastrophic.

“The area that has been hit the hardest — certainly from what we’re hearing right now — is Lee County,” Criswell said. “We know that there was significant storm surge there. We know that their water system has been impacted, and we’re focused right now on getting some search and rescue teams, who have been out since 4:00 this morning, to get into that area and identify who might need assistance, who might need to get rescued.” 

That’s just one area, she said, and they know that others, including many along the western coast, had “significant impact.” 

She did not have a number on people who might need rescue. 

“I don’t think that we can quantify it yet,” she said about the amount of damage that has been done. “But I can tell you that it is going to be catastrophic. The amount of impact to these communities is going to be significant.” 

Criswell said that FEMA is preparing for the possibility of thousands of displaced families that will need assistance.