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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10:09 a.m. ET, September 29, 2022

Large portion of Sanibel Causeway washed away in Hurricane Ian surge

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy and Rebekah Riess


A portion of the Sanibel Causeway has been washed away by storm surge from Hurricane Ian, according to video from CNN affiliates WBBH and WPLG.

At least three sections of the causeway have been washed away, according to aerial video from WPLG.

CNN geolocated the location where WBBH is reporting from, and the roadway that was washed out is a ramp up to the causeway's second bridge, spanning the second half toward Sanibel Island. 

Two portions of the ramps to both bridges and a stretch of roadway that crossed an island in the middle of the causeway have been completely washed away.

The causeway is the only way to get to or from Sanibel and Captiva Islands to Florida's mainland. 

Sanibel Causeway and Pine Island Bridge are "not passable and they are going to require structural rebuilds," said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during an update briefing on Thursday.

Florida Highway Patrol confirmed that a portion of the Sanibel Causeway Bridge “was damaged / washed out,” Lt. Gregory S. Bueno with the Public Affairs Division of Florida Highway Patrol told CNN.

According to Florida 511, all lanes of the bridge are currently closed and the severity of the closure is listed as “major.”

Watch reporting from the scene:

10:21 a.m. ET, September 29, 2022

A woman is riding out the storm with her family at a Disney World hotel 

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Disney World was completely closed for business as it braced for the impact of Ian's landfall on the west coast of Florida on Wednesday. 

Kelly Zimmerman told CNN that she rode out the hurricane with her sister and her children at a hotel in the theme park located in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

"Disney is wonderful and they try to make it a great experience. And so even though things were closed, they were still trying to make it great for the kids and had like the arcades all free in the hotel and just different characters coming, and dance parties and crafts. They tried to make the best of it so that the guests would still have a good experience," she said. 

While they experienced rain and wind, Zimmerman said she "very safe the whole time and protected."

On Sunday, the family had plans to go to Mickey's Halloween party.

"We're just going to be patient and wait for the storm to clear so we can go to Mickey's Halloween" party, she said. "Hopefully that will still be able to happen without any delay." 


10:01 a.m. ET, September 29, 2022

What we know — and what we don't — about the aftermath of Ian

From CNN staff

Brenda Brennan sits next to a boat that washed up against her apartment in Fort Myers, Florida, on Thursday.
Brenda Brennan sits next to a boat that washed up against her apartment in Fort Myers, Florida, on Thursday. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Powerful Hurricane Ian crossed Florida from Wednesday into Thursday, leaving a path of destruction in its wake. As the now-tropical storm exits the state, the complete assessment of damage still needs to be seen, but here's what we know:

  • Power outages: At least 2.5 million Florida energy customers are still without power, according to In Lee County, which includes Fort Myers and Cape Coral, about 90% of all customers are in the dark. About 92% of customers in Charlotte County, home to Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda, are also without power.
  • Rainfall: Ian set records for the highest water levels ever observed in multiple locations such as Fort Myers and Naples in southwest Florida. Radar estimates and ground observation rainfall shows well over a foot of rain fell in just 12 to 24 hours across a swath the region. In some of the hardest-hit locations, this exceeds the rainfall rates for 1-in-1,000-year flood events, according to NOAA data. Storm surge reached 12 feet in some places. As of Thursday morning, a storm surge warning – meaning life-threatening surges could hit – was in place for a coastal stretch from northeastern Florida into an area north of Charleston, South Carolina.
  • Rescues: The Coast Guard and National Guard were “pulling people off of roofs in Fort Myers” with aircraft Thursday morning, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Brendan McPherson told CNN, adding air crews have rescued at least 13 people between Fort Myers and St. Petersburg since Wednesday. Officials are also especially focused on getting search teams into hard-hit Lee County amid concerns many still need rescuing there, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell said Thursday morning. An official number of deaths and injuries are still unknown.
  • Watches and warnings: The storm on Thursday is expected to move into the Atlantic Ocean, threatening other states’ east coasts. Governors in Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina have already declared states of emergency. Track the storm here.
  • Schools: Most schools that were in the areas impacted by Hurricane Ian will be able to reopen on Friday or Monday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a briefing on Thursday. Acknowledging the breadth of damage in Lee and Charlotte counties, DeSantis said they're in a "very difficult situation" and that authorities will "work with them and see when they can get back on their feet."
9:58 a.m. ET, September 29, 2022

Coast Guard makes 23 rescues in Florida within first day of storm response

From CNN’s Hannah Sarisohn 

US Coast Guard crews in Florida have rescued 23 people within the past 24 hours, Deputy Commandant for Operations Vice Adm. Peter Gautier said Thursday morning

Gautier told CNN that those still in Ian’s path should heed evacuation orders as the storm is not over yet. 

Gautier said the Coast Guard will work with the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up any oil spills and hazardous materials in impacted areas after the storm.  

9:56 a.m. ET, September 29, 2022

Englewood Hospital is closed and transferring patients 

From CNN’s Amanda Watts 

HCA Florida Englewood Hospital is currently closed and will transfer patients to other facilities, according to social media posts by the hospital.

“Due to the impact of Hurricane Ian, HCA Florida Englewood Hospital has currently suspended services, and we are in the process of transferring patients for their safety,” the post said. 

The patients were being transferred to other HCA Florida Healthcare hospitals, according to another post

The hospital has set up a patient reunification hotline for family of the patients. 

HCA Florida Englewood Hospital offers “cardiovascular care, general surgery, 24/7 emergency care, urology, orthopedics, stroke care and advanced imaging services.” 

9:51 a.m. ET, September 29, 2022

Collier County government services closed Thursday following hurricane impacts

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

All nonessential government services and facilities in Florida's Collier County will be closed on Thursday, following the impacts of Hurricane Ian in the county, which includes Naples.

But all essential services, including those involving public utilities and emergency operations, remain fully operational, the country said in a Thursday morning update.

Collier Area Transit services will also stay suspended on Thursday morning until the roads have been evaluated and cleared for service, the update said.

9:55 a.m. ET, September 29, 2022

Sarasota's police chief urges residents to remain off the roads as authorities assess damage 

From CNN’s Amanda Watts 

Sarasota, Florida, Police Chief Rex Troche said winds in the city are still gusting, and he urged residents to remain off the roads.

“I know people are getting antsy and they want to get back into their homes,” he said in a video on Facebook

“Into the early morning hours, we sent out police officers as the wind started to die down to start assessing the damage in the city,” Troche said. “They then relayed that information so that this morning at first daybreak, we could start taking action with respect to clearing roads down power lines, communicating with our other partners like Florida Power to make sure that they had people in route to help us out.” 

Sarasota has several bridges that remain closed on Thursday morning, he said, and officers are out assessing them. 

The police chief became visibly emotional as he spoke about the destruction in Southwest Florida. 

Troche said that he is thinking of other agencies across the region that are dealing with massive damage. 

“I just want to make sure that everyone understands that we're in this together, we're one community, one family, and we want to make sure that we recover as quickly as possible,” he said. 

“I also want to say to the other agencies in the cities — our hearts go out to the damage that we've seen,” Troche said, getting choked up. “We're going to be here, we're going to be here for all of you.” 


9:53 a.m. ET, September 29, 2022

Ian has produced 1-in-1,000 year rainfall in some parts of Central Florida

From CNN's Allison Chinchar and Brandon Miller

Hurricane Ian brought record flooding to several locations in central and southern Florida.

Radar estimates and ground observation rainfall shows well-over a foot of rain fell in just 12 to 24 hours across a swath the region. In some of the hardest-hit areas, this exceeds the rainfall rates for 1-in-1,000 year flood events, according to NOAA data.

Even more locations over a wider area saw 500-year and 200-year rainfall rates, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis referenced the hurricane’s rainfall as “a 500-year flood event” on Thursday morning.

A 1,000-year rainfall event is one that is so intense that it is only seen once every 1,000 years on average under normal circumstances. But extreme rainfall is becoming more common as the climate crisis pushes temperatures higher. Warmer air can hold more moisture, which loads the dice in favor of historic rainfall.

Placida, Florida, had an observed rainfall total of more than 15 inches over 12 hours on Wednesday. This exceeds the 1-in-1,000 year flood event interval of 14.0 inches. 

Lake Wales, Florida, received 16.99 inches in 24 hours, which exceeds its 1-in-1,000 year flood event for a 24-hour interval of 16.8 inches.

Other locations that likely had 1-in-1,000 year flood events, but have only been confirmed by radar rainfall estimates, mostly because the hurricane damaged the measuring equipment or power outages, include:

  • Winter Park: 12 inches in 12 hours
  • North Port: 14 inches in 12 hours
  • Myakka City: 14 inches in 12 hours

Rainfall rates in landfalling tropical systems has increased as a result of a warming climate, according to scientists. Numerous other 1-in-1,000 year flood events have occurred in non-tropical systems this year, such as in St. Louis, Eastern Kentucky, and Dallas.

9:46 a.m. ET, September 29, 2022

Manatee County lifts evacuation orders, but warns it is not an all-clear 

From CNN’s Amanda Watts 

Manatee County, Florida, has lifted the evacuation orders that were put in place ahead of Hurricane Ian. 

In a statement on Thursday, Manatee County said: “Emergency evacuation shelters are being closed, and residents are being allowed to return to their homes. However, it is not a return to normal.” 

“This is not an all-clear,” said Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes. “There are still hazards out there, and you need to understand the danger.” 

Teams are assessing the damage this morning.

“Initial assessments show that the island communities have suffered minor to moderate damages with a greater impact being felt inland in east county communities like Myakka city,” he said. 

“Reports of fallen trees, scattered limbs and snapped power wires have been widespread across the region, and while power crews are already deploying to the area, residents are being asked to be alert for debris and downed lines,” according to the statement.