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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9:54 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

City of Punta Gorda to suspend all emergency services once sustained winds exceed 45 mph

From CNN’s Sara Weisfeldt

The City of Punta Gorda in Florida will suspend all emergency services once sustained winds reach an excess of 45 miles per hour, according to a statement released Tuesday night.

“Emergency and non-emergency phone lines will still be open for calls, but police and fire response will not be possible until the storm has passed,” the statement noted. 

The statement said that once it's safe, the emergency calls will be answered in order of priority.

"There may be serious delays in response even after the storm has passed depending on damage, road blockage, and flood waters,” the city added. 

Punta Gorda is in southwest Florida, about 100 miles south of Tampa.

 

9:02 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Administration is ready to assist with Hurricane Ian, Biden says

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez and Nikki Carvajal

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The White House is closely tracking Hurricane Ian as it barrels toward Florida, with President Joe Biden receiving regular updates and speaking with local officials in the storm's projected path ahead of landfall in the US. 

As of Tuesday afternoon, Hurricane Ian remains at Category 3. The storm's winds rose slightly to 120 miles per hour, after decreasing as a result of making landfall over western Cuba. Ian is expected to continue strengthening and to hit Florida on Wednesday.

"(The) forecast can change, but for now the experts say this could be a very severe hurricane, life threatening and a devastating impact," Biden said from the Rose Garden Tuesday at an event for lowering health care costs. "The administration is on alert and in action to help the people of Florida."

Biden spoke with Florida's Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis Tuesday evening, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tweeted, "to discuss the steps the Federal government is taking to help Florida prepare for Hurricane Ian."

"The President and the Governor committed to continued close coordination," Jean-Pierre said

Jean-Pierre said earlier during Tuesday's press briefing that Biden held separate calls with Mayors Jane Castor of Tampa, Ken Welch of St. Petersburg and Frank Hibbard of Clearwater.

Biden later said the mayors he called are "focused on the safety of their communities and they're doing everything they can to get people out of harm's way." The President relayed that he "told each one of them in my conversations separately, whatever they need — I mean it sincerely, whatever they need — contact me directly."

8:53 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

DeSantis spoke to Biden shortly after hurricane news conference

From CNN’s Jamiel Lynch and Kaitlan Collins

An updated schedule for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis shows that he had a call with President Joe Biden shortly after a 5:30 p.m. ET media briefing on Hurricane Ian.

During the briefing, DeSantis said he has yet to speak with the President and that his “phone line is open.” 

DeSantis’ updated schedule shows he had a 6:30 p.m. ET call with Biden.

CNN has reached out to DeSantis’ office for any readout or information on the call. 

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed the call between the governor and Biden in a tweet.

The call is notable given Biden had not spoken to DeSantis until now about the storm.

Instead FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell had been in communication with DeSantis. 

 

9:15 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Cuba is in a nation-wide blackout, state media says

From CNN’s Patrick Oppmann

Cuba is experiencing a nationwide blackout, according to state media.

Officials said Hurricane Ian, which wreaked havoc in western Cuba on Tuesday, caused the power outage. 

In a social media posting, Cuba’s state-run National Electric System said the current output for the island nation of 11 million people was at zero percent.

Officials said they hope to begin restoring power late Tuesday or early Wednesday. 

Earlier, the state electric company, Unión Eléctrica de Cuba, said it would keep off the power in Havana to avoid deaths or damage to property until the weather improves, following the hurricane-strength rains and winds that hit the capital.

8:41 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Tropical storm-force winds arrive in the Florida Keys

From CNN's Robert Shackelford

Hurricane Ian's outer bands are bringing sustained tropical storm-force winds to the Florida Keys, according to the 8 p.m. update from the National Hurricane Center.

A National Data Buoy Center site near Sombrero Key recently reported a sustained wind of 43 mph and the Florida Keys Marathon International Airport reported a wind gust of up to 52 mph.

During the last hour, the Key West International Airport reported a sustained wind of 48 mph and a gust to 71 mph.

8:26 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Tolls are suspended on Central Florida roads in preparation for Hurricane Ian

From CNN’s Amy Simonson

Tolls have been suspended on central Florida toll roads in preparation for Hurricane Ian, according to a Seminole County government statement. 

Toll roads include:  

  • Apopka Expressway
  • Beachline Expressway
  • Central FL Greenway
  • East-West Expressway
  • Florida’s Turnpike Mainline
  • Goldenrod Road Extension
  • I-4 Express Lanes
  • Osceola Parkway
  • Poinciana Parkway
  • Seminole Expressway
  • Southern Connector Extension
  • SR 453, Wekiva Parkway
  • Western Beltway

8:25 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Parkland High School shooter penalty trial to close for 3 days due to Hurricane Ian 

From CNN’s Maria Cartaya 

Nikolas Cruz is shown at the defense table during the penalty phase of Cruz's trial at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. on Tuesday, September 27.
Nikolas Cruz is shown at the defense table during the penalty phase of Cruz's trial at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. on Tuesday, September 27. (Amy Beth Bennett/Pool/South Florida Sun Sentinel/AP)

The penalty trial for Nikolas Cruz, the Parkland High School shooter, resumed on Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale with the state beginning its rebuttal case. 

The Broward County Courthouse is closed Wednesday and Thursday in advance of Hurricane Ian. The court proceedings for the trial were originally expected to go through the rest of the week with a half-day scheduled for Friday.  

“Even if the courthouse is open [on Friday] the consensus is to finish the doctor’s testimony on Monday,” said Judge Elizabeth Scherer after conferring with state prosecutors and defense attorneys about scheduling.  

In October 2021, Cruz pleaded guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on February 14, 2018.    

Jurors will be tasked with sentencing Cruz to death or to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Jurors must be unanimous for a death sentence, according to Florida law. 

8:09 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Cuba state electric company says it's keeping power grid shut to prevent deaths or damage

From CNN’s Patrick Oppmann in Havana

Cuba’s state electric company, Unión Eléctrica de Cuba (UNE), says it will keep the power off in Havana to avoid deaths or damage to property until the weather improves, following the hurricane-strength rains and winds that hit the capital in the wake of Ian.

UNE said it turned off the power ahead of the storm to avoid people being electrocuted as well as to prevent fires.  

Cuba’s aging power grid has been plagued with blackouts all summer which has led to rare protests against the government. 

7:41 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Florida Keys beginning to experience tropical storm force winds, Monroe County official says

From CNN’s Amy Simonson

News crews, tourists and local residents take images as high waves from Hurricane Ian crash into the seawall at the Southernmost Point buoy, Tuesday, September 27, in Key West, Florida.
News crews, tourists and local residents take images as high waves from Hurricane Ian crash into the seawall at the Southernmost Point buoy, Tuesday, September 27, in Key West, Florida. (Rob O'Neal/The Key West Citizen/AP)

The Florida Keys have begun to experience the effects of Hurricane Ian as tropical storm winds have started gusting through Monroe County, an official said.

Shannon Weiner, Monroe County Emergency Management director, told CNN’s Erin Burnett that the Keys are experiencing tropical storm force winds of 40 to 50 miles an hour and some heavy gusts of 60 to 70 mph in Key West.

According to Weiner, rain has been falling off and on all day and in some areas, more than six inches of water has fallen. 

“We do expect it to worsen overnight. We are beginning to see a few power outages throughout the lower Keys — some downed trees in residential areas. So, we are very closely monitoring the situation as we move through the evening and early morning hours,” she said. 

Weiner said officials are urging people who are enjoying staying out in the elements to seek shelter with family or friends particularly after nightfall as the conditions continue to deteriorate.