September 27, 2022 Florida braces for Hurricane Ian

By Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal, Elise Hammond and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 10:01 PM ET, Tue September 27, 2022
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3:48 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

A county-by-county breakdown of the 1.75 million people under mandatory evacuation orders in Florida

From CNN’s Chuck Johnston

There are just more than 1.75 million people under mandatory evacuation orders across the state of Florida at this hour. 

Here's the breakdown by county:

  • Lee County: 450,395 people under mandatory evacuation orders
  • Pinellas County: 442,259 people under mandatory evacuation orders
  • Hillsborough County: 390,000 people under mandatory evacuation orders
  • Sarasota County: 151,000 people under mandatory evacuation orders
  • Charlotte County: 126,832 people under mandatory evacuation orders
  • Manatee County: 120,000 people under mandatory evacuation orders
  • Pasco County: 70,000 people under mandatory evacuation orders

Note: St John’s County has a mandatory evacuation that goes into effect on Wednesday and is not included in this current list. When it goes into effect at 6 a.m. ET tomorrow, another 180,000 people will be under mandatory evacuation orders.

A total of 2.5 million Floridians are currently under some kind of evacuation order — either mandatory or voluntary — according to Florida officials. 

3:44 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

St. Petersburg mayor asks residents to heed evacuation orders

From CNN’s Jamiel Lynch 

Officials in St. Petersburg, Florida, are telling residents to heed the evacuation orders and to conserve water if they decide to stay in the city. 

"Even though the center of the projected track of the hurricane has shifted further south, this is not the time to let our guard down," mayor Ken Welch said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon. 

Welch said that no matter where the storm hits, the city is expected to see wind, rain, flooding, tornadoes, and high storm surge. 

"Please heed and get to a safe place tonight," Welch said. 

"You don't need to go to Georgia. You just need to get to higher ground in a non-evacuation zone with your storm kit and supplies," he added.

The city's public works administrator Claude Tankersley asked anyone who remains in the city to conserve the water they use during the storm so that all sewage and wastewater systems will continue to operate during and after the storm. 

"For those of us who remain, I want to ask you — I want to plead with you actually — during the storm, reduce the amount of water you are using,” he said. 

The city asks that residents do not use dishwashers and washing machines, limit flushing and limit showering. 

3:21 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Hurricane Ian poses high risk to Florida's elderly and retired population, officials say

From CNN’s Rachel Ramirez

As calls for mandatory evacuations and warnings of storm surge and strong winds from Hurricane Ian grow more urgent in Florida, local governments and state agencies are trying to prepare one of its most vulnerable groups — those living in nursing homes and other senior care facilities.

Florida has around 6 million citizens over the age of 60, according to according to the state’s Department of Elder Affairs — nearly 30% of its total population. As of Tuesday, all adult day cares, senior community cafes, and transportation services in evacuation zones are closed, according to the department.

“The department is ensuring emergency plans are being followed and providers have region-specific resources needed to serve seniors before and after the storm,” Sarah Stevenson, the department’s director of communications, told CNN.

“Providers in the projected path of the storm distributed shelf-stable meals to senior clients that would normally receive home-delivered meals,” Stevenson said. The elderly population, just like low-income, marginalized communities, are among the most vulnerable groups when it comes extreme weather disasters.

Not only do they require more care, they also require refrigeration and a sterile environment for some of their medications.

As Ian barrels toward the state, the Agency for Health Care Administration told CNN that it has conducted more than 290 on-site visits in nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the path of the storm that had been previously out of compliance with generator requirements.

“As of today, 100% of operating long-term care facilities have a generator on-site,” said Brock Juarez, AHCA deputy chief of staff, noting that they are requiring all health providers to send daily updates to make sure each facility is taking the appropriate precautions to keep aging patients safe.

The American Association of Retired Persons is spreading awareness of the risk this storm poses to the state’s older population. The AARP website also provides disaster preparedness resources for older adults and their families, including advice on setting up generators, avoiding storm surge and reviewing insurance policies.

“As Hurricane Ian barrels toward Florida, we should all be reminded: it is extremely important for Floridians to have an updated disaster plan each year at the beginning of storm season,” AARP Florida State Director Jeff Johnson said in a statement.

“As Floridians, we know it only takes one storm to drastically change lives forever. Proper preparedness and a disaster plan can minimize damage to your property and ensure your family’s safety.”

3:23 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Texas governor deploys resources to Florida

From CNN's Andi Babineau and Joe Sutton

The Texas Division of Emergency Management will deploy a task force to Florida in advance of Hurricane Ian, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday.

"Texas is no stranger to hurricane disaster response efforts, and we recognize the urgency for additional resources in preparation of this Category 3 storm," Abbott said in a statement. "We greatly appreciate the generosity of Floridians and aid the State of Florida has sent us during times of crisis in our state — and we are honored to do the same."

The Texas A&M Task Force 1 will deploy a search-and-rescue team consisting of 45 personnel, four boats, and two canines, to support a request by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the statement said. 

4:26 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

House Jan. 6 committee postpones public hearing because of Hurricane Ian

From CNN's Manu Raju and Annie Grayer

Members of the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection are pictured.
Members of the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection are pictured. (Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images)

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol postponed its hearing scheduled for Wednesday in light of Hurricane Ian heading toward Florida.

The panel had originally scheduled a hearing for Wednesday to reveal new information it has uncovered since its last hearing on July 21, but the committee’s chair, Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, of Mississippi, and vice chair, Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, of Wyoming, made the announcement Tuesday afternoon.

“In light of Hurricane Ian bearing down on parts of Florida, we have decided to postpone tomorrow’s proceedings,” Thompson and Cheney said in a joint statement. “We’re praying for the safety of all those in the storm’s path. The Select Committee’s investigation goes forward and we will soon announce a date for the postponed proceedings.”

One of the committee’s nine members, Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy represents a district that includes parts of Orlando. CNN reported earlier that Murphy may not have been able to attend the hearing.

4:28 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Cancellations and airport closures begin as airlines brace for a major impact

From CNN's Pete Muntean and Greg Wallace

A man walks through the baggage claim area at Tampa International Airport before the airport is due to close at 5pm ET ahead of Hurricane Ian on Tuesday.
A man walks through the baggage claim area at Tampa International Airport before the airport is due to close at 5pm ET ahead of Hurricane Ian on Tuesday. (Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images)

Airlines, airports, and the federal government are bracing for aviation infrastructure to take a major blow from Hurricane Ian. Cancellations and closures are already piling up across the Florida peninsula. 

FlightAware data shows more than 1100 cancelations nationwide Wednesday with the Orlando and Southwest Florida airports rounding out the top three hotspots, though the effects could ripple through the southeastern US with Atlanta and Charlotte already seeing cancellations.

Tampa International Airport: Operations will be suspended at 5 p.m. ET Tuesday. A publicly available notice to pilots reads that the airport will only be open for emergency aircraft. The airport typically handles 450 flights daily.  

St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport closed at 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday “due to mandatory evacuation orders from Pinellas County and remain closed until the evacuation order is lifted,” according to the verified tweet from the airport. 

Sarasota-Bradenton airport announced it will be closed starting at 8 p.m. Tuesday night.  

Orlando International Airport: Commercial operations will cease at 10:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday, according to an update from the airport, which welcomes nearly 130,000 passengers daily, according to its website. 

 The Federal Aviation Administration is holding a Tuesday evening teleconference about the impact of Hurricane Ian on air travel, according to a notice on an agency website.

American Airlines says it has proactively canceled 175 flights as of Tuesday morning, including both mainline and regional flights.  

American customers traveling through 20 airports in the hurricane’s path can rebook flights without change fees. The airline has also added “reduced, last-minute fares for cities that will be impacted” in hopes of helping people who are trying to “evacuate via air.” 

Multiple airlines are moving aircraft out of harm’s way and note it will take time to reestablish service after the storm. First, officials and the airlines must determine when and where it is safe to resume flights, and then they must have crews on the ground available.   

“Our in-house weather forecasting is a powerful tool to aid in ops decision making but equally important are the conditions of ground infrastructure after the storm passes,” Delta spokesman Morgan Durrant told CNN.  

United Airlines and Southwest Airlines are suspending operations at the Fort Meyers and Sarasota airports. United is also canceling all Tuesday and Wednesday flights to and from Key West and is canceling some flights out of Orlando.

CNN's Rebekah Riess contributed to this report.

2:47 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Storm surge watch issued for the entire Georgia coast

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

A storm surge watch has been issued for the entire Georgia coast, and the state is anticipating some flooding and flash flooding, officials said Tuesday.

Heavy rainfall of four to six inches of rain with some isolated areas of eight inches is expected along the state’s coastal counties.

Georgia Emergency Management officials said they are currently at a Level Two elevated activation for the State Operations Center. 

A tropical storm warning has been issued for Camden and Glynn counties, and a tropical storm watch has been issued for the remainder of the Georgia coast.

Gov. Brian Kemp is expected to issue a statement declaring a state of emergency today, which will encompass all state resources, GEMA Director James C. Stallings said.

“Currently we're asking our residents in vulnerable housing situations, including those in low-lying areas, or high flood risk areas, you should consider a temporary relocation to higher ground,” Stallings added.
2:35 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

St. Johns County, on Florida's East Coast, announces Wednesday evacuation order

From CNN's Shawn Nottingham

Officials on Florida’s east coast are now beginning to prepare for Hurricane Ian’s approach.

St. Johns County administrator announced at an afternoon news conference the county will issue an evacuation order on Wednesday morning, including the entire city of St. Augustine.

Hunter Conrad, the county administrator, said they are “looking at flooding, storm surge and a rain event very similar to what we had during Irma.”

The area could get 3 to 5 feet of storm surge and 10 to 15 inches of rain, according to Conrad.

St. Jonhs County schools, as well as county offices, will be closed for the rest of the week. 

2:34 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

As Ian strengthens, surge forecast for Tampa is slightly lower at 4-7 feet

From CNN's Brandon Miller 

Hurricane Ian is growing stronger in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico with maximum sustained winds up to 120 mph, according to the 2 p.m. ET update from the National Hurricane Center.

The southward shift in the track has resulted in some changes to the expected storm surge, notably the slight decrease in the forecast for Tampa Bay in Florida, which is now 4-7 feet —down from 5-10 feet projected earlier.

It would still be a record storm surge if it is verified.

The maximum storm surge will occur on the right side of the advancing center of Hurricane Ian, which is forecast to occur between Sarasota and Fort Myers, including Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda, and could reach up to 12 feet.