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Latest updates on Ian across the Tampa Bay area

Published September 25, 2022 at 6:56 PM EDT

Get the latest news and information on Ian from WUSF

What you need to know:

HOW TO HELP: Donate through theFlorida Disaster Fund or text DISASTER to 20222.

HOW TO GET HELP: Businesses, homeowners can get state and federal assistance

CHARITIES: 8 ways Tampa Bay residents can help the victims

LATEST FROM THE STATE: Visit FloridaDisaster.org

POWER OUTAGES: Track outages across the region

EVACUATION ZONES: How to find out if you're in an evacuation zone

SHELTERS: Map shows where to find an emergency shelter

Stay with WUSF for continuing coverage

Posted October 7, 2022 at 12:12 PM EDT

This is the last post in our live blog, but stay with WUSF for continuing coverage of Hurricane Ian. You can check out our2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season page for updates, preparation tips, and evacuation information.

Manatee to begin debris cleanup

Posted October 7, 2022 at 8:25 AM EDT

Manatee County debris haulers will begin their collection of storm debris on Oct. 7.

The county will be separated into western, northeastern, and southeastern service areas. A separate contractor is responsible for each area and will determine the exact collection route.

According to a news release, collections will take weeks to complete.

Click herefor details.

Historic flooding hinders recovery efforts in rural Florida counties

Posted October 7, 2022 at 6:01 AM EDT
Deputies in the water with a car
Hardee County Sheriff's Office
/
Facebook
Deputies tend to a car in the water in Hardee County on Sept. 30, 2022.

In some Florida counties, officials are waiting for water to recede before the damage can be fully assessed.

Hurricane Ian made landfall along Florida’s Gulf Coast one week ago, on Sept. 28, where the coastal city of Fort Myers was particularly devastated. Farther inland, tracing the storm’s path through central Florida, Ian deposited unprecedented rain and flood waters, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.

In south central Florida — rural Highlands, Hardee and DeSoto counties — flooding is impeding power restoration, geographic access and damage surveillance.

Roughly a week since the storm, standing water is standing in the way.

Here's a county-by-county breakdown.

Friday morning power outage update

Posted October 7, 2022 at 5:52 AM EDT

As of 5:30 a.m., 137,561 remain without power across the state, primarily in Sarasota, Lee, and Collier counties.

Florida Power and Light, which serves Sarasota and Manatee counties along with other areas across the state, reports 47,207 people are still without service.

This includes 9,631 in Sarasota County, 600 in Manatee.

Duke Energy still has 350 customers without power.

You can check power outages across the state here.

DeSantis news conference

Posted October 6, 2022 at 2:44 PM EDT

Gov. DeSantis provided a Hurricane Ian update during a news conference in Nokomis:

More state money pledged for relief

Posted October 6, 2022 at 2:41 PM EDT

Florida lawmakers plan to pump more money into a new state disaster-relief fund, which Gov. Ron DeSantis has been running through to speed recovery from Hurricane Ian.

House and Senate leaders announced Wednesday the Joint Legislative Budget Commission will hold an emergency meeting next week to release an additional $360 million into the Emergency Preparedness and Response Fund, which was established this year with $500 million.

“These additional funds will ensure more resources are immediately available to aid in our state’s recovery needs,” incoming House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, said in a prepared statement.

> Read more

Coping with stress and grief

Posted October 6, 2022 at 1:19 PM EDT
Coping with mental health
Melissa Larkin-Skinner speaks with Health News Florida’s Stephanie Colombini

From round-the-clock news about its impending arrival to the devastating aftermath, Hurricane Ian has caused many Floridians extreme stress for nearly two weeks — and it's not over.

Therapists with the Florida Behavioral Health Association say they are concerned about the toll this could take on residents, both now and in the long-term.

Board chair Melissa Larkin-Skinner is also CEO of Centerstone of Florida, which operates behavioral health centers in the Sarasota-Manatee region and in Southwest Florida, some of the areas hit hardest by the storm.

She spoke with Health News Florida’s Stephanie Colombini about the mental health impacts of Hurricane Ian.

How businesses and homeowners can get help

Posted October 6, 2022 at 11:56 AM EDT

State officials on Wednesday announced several initiatives aimed at helping homeowners and business owners who have been impacted by damage from Hurricane Ian.

In a news release, Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie said some programs will provide financial assistance, while others will help residents with cleanup and home repairs.

They include short-term, zero-interest loans through the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program, along with federal assistance for households who have uninsured or underinsured expenses.

Homeowners can also sign up for help with residential cleanup and home repairs.

> Read more

Well-water testing in Manatee

Posted October 6, 2022 at 7:15 AM EDT
Manatee County workers in Myakka City
Cathy Carter
Manatee County is providing sterile bottles to residents so they can collect water samples from their wells and then return them for testing.

During a storm surge or flood, as in the case of Hurricane Ian, sewage runoff and overflow from rivers and streams could carry bacteria such as E. coli and cholera, protozoa such as Giardia and viruses such as hepatitis.

Health officials say those who get their water from a well should boil it as a precaution because their water supply may have been flooded. The well water should be brought to a rolling boil for at least one minute. Aerating the water by pouring it several times from one container to another will help to dispel the flat taste of boiled water.

Manatee County is also providing sterile bottles to residents so they can collect water samples from their wells and then return them for testing.

Residents can pick up a sterile bottle and instructions for collecting a sample of well water at the Myakka Community Center in Myakka City.

> Read more

Thursday morning power outage update

Posted October 6, 2022 at 7:13 AM EDT

As of early 7 a.m., 218,139 people remain without power across the state.

Florida Power and Light, which serves Sarasota and Manatee counties along with other areas across the state, reports 91,111 people are still without service.

This includes 24,334 in Sarasota County, and 67 in Manatee.

Duke Energy has around 384 customers without power.

Operation Blue Roof provides temporary repairs

Posted October 5, 2022 at 12:58 PM EDT

Residents in Sarasota, Lee, Charlotte and Collier counties are now eligible for temporary roof repairs under the Operation Blue Roof program.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, through FEMA, will provide temporary roof coverings to help reduce further damage following Hurricane Ian until permanent repairs can be made.

Primary residences, or permanently occupied rental property with less than 50% of the roof framing damaged, are eligible for repairs.

Vacation rental properties are not eligible for the program.

Residents can sign up on the Operation Blue Roof website.

For more information, call 1-888-ROOF-BLU (1-888-766-3258) from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Verizon 911 service restored

Posted October 5, 2022 at 12:45 PM EDT

Verizon Wireless customers in the greater Tampa Bay region are once again able to call 911 after a nationwide outage.

Sheriff's offices in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota and Hernando counties all reported that Verizon Wireless users were experiencing network issues when they were trying to call 9-1-1 starting Tuesday afternoon.

Those issues included call failure or the caller not being able to hear the operator. They were cleared up starting late Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.

In event of similar failures in the future, sheriff's offices recommend that callers text 911 or call their local sheriff's non-emergency number.

Hillsborough debris collection ramping up

Posted October 5, 2022 at 8:23 AM EDT
Yard debris next to a sidewalk
Hillsborough County
/
Facebook
The county will ramp up debris cleanup efforts on Thursday, Oct. 6. They’re asking residents to have the yard debris they want collected out in front of their yard by Monday, Oct. 10.

Overall, Hillsborough County solid waste has about 3,000 miles of road to cover as it starts to pick up debris. That’s separate from the cities of Tampa, Temple Terrace, and Plant City, which run their own departments.

"That's about the distance from here to Seattle, Washington, that we have to have trucks going down those roadways, making sure we're picking up every pile,” said Travis Barnes, Hillsborough County’s Solid Waste sustainable materials manager.

Barnes says they'll ramp up debris cleanup efforts on Thursday, Oct. 6. They’re asking residents to have the yard debris they want collected out in front of their yard by Monday, Oct. 10.

There are also residential drop-off sites for those who want to get rid of the yard debris themselves. Barnes said over 4,000 residents have utilized this method already.

> Read more

Timetable for Sarasota schools reopening

Posted October 5, 2022 at 8:21 AM EDT

After closing on Sept. 27 "indefinitely" due to Hurricane Ian, Sarasota County schools announced Tuesday they plan to reopen schools in the northern part of the county on Monday, while schools in the more heavily affected areas further south may not reopen until mid-October.

"The reopening plan is going to be a phased reopening plan. North County schools from Taylor Ranch north, we are shooting for Monday, we'd like to open on Monday, be ready for that," Sarasota superintendent Brennan Asplen said.

"South county schools will follow and they will take at least another week to reopen with the amount of damage we have had down there in our schools."

Another news conference will be held later this week to announce an update on the reopening plans.

> Read more

Wednesday morning power outage update

Posted October 5, 2022 at 8:19 AM EDT

Nearly 320,000 people 319,962 remain without power across the state as of Wednesday at 7:45 a.m.

Florida Power and Light, which serves Sarasota and Manatee counties along with other areas across the state, reports 178,271 people are still without service.

This includes 47,104 in Sarasota County, and 6,180 in Manatee.

Power has been restored to all but 175 Tampa Electric customers and 430 Duke Energy customers. Lakeland Electric reports 59 outages.

US 17 reopens

Posted October 5, 2022 at 6:33 AM EDT

Both directions of U.S. 17 from Arcadia to Wauchula in DeSoto and Hardee counties is now open to traffic after the roadway was cleared on Tuesday.

State Roads 70 and 72 remains closed in DeSoto due to flooding from the Peace River.

DeSantis updates efforts to access barrier islands

Posted October 5, 2022 at 5:56 AM EDT

Governor Ron DeSantis says work will begin immediately on a temporary bridge that will provide access to Sanibel Island, while access to Pine Island could be completed by the end of the month, according to a news release.

The causeway leading to the Sanibel Island was destroyed during Hurricane Ian.

The Florida Department of Transportation “already made tremendous progress on the temporary bridge to Pine Island,” DeSantis said. “Now, I’ve asked them to work with Lee County to immediately begin work to provide temporary access and begin repairs to the Sanibel Causeway.

"Access to our barrier islands is a priority for our first responders and emergency services who have been working day and night to bring relief to all Floridians affected by Hurricane Ian.”

FDOT says it expects the Sanibel Causeway to be accessible by the end of October, after completing emergency repairs, and ahead of long-term repairs.

911 outage in Hillsborough, Manatee

Posted October 4, 2022 at 5:04 PM EDT

Verizon users in Hillsborough and Manatee counties may experience difficulty when attempting to dial 911 because of a regional outage.

Customers from Jacksonville to the Keys are experiencing the outage, according to a release from Manatee County Government.

Verizon users can still text 911 for emergency assistance. If a resident experiences a dropped call, texting 911 is recommended to make sure to connect with dispatch.

Manatee residents can call (941) 748-2222 until the issue is resolved.

Sarasota debris collection begins Wednesday

Posted October 4, 2022 at 1:58 PM EDT

The city of Sarasota will begin debris collection and removal on Wednesday.

There is are no specific days scheduled, so residents are encouraged to place their items by their curbs as soon as possible.

Details can be found on the city's website.

Benefit concert at Van Wezel

Posted October 4, 2022 at 1:46 PM EDT

The Sarasota Orchestra and Van Wezel Hall will host a Hurricane Ian relief concert on Friday, Oct. 7.

Tickets are $10-25 and can be purchased online, by calling 941-263-6799, or at the box office through Friday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Proceeds will benefit the Suncoast Disaster Recovery Fund.

The Patterson Foundation is also providing a dollar-for-dollar match up to $750,000.

Courts in SW Florida closed

Posted October 4, 2022 at 1:21 PM EDT

Courts in a number of Southwest Florida counties remain closed because of Hurricane Ian.

According to the Florida Supreme Court website, courts in Charlotte, Collier, Glades and Hendry counties are tentatively scheduled to reopen Thursday.

The DeSoto and Hardee County Courthouses will be closed through Wednesday, but it's not clear yet if they will reopen Thursday.

Lee County courts are expected to reopen Monday, Oct. 10.

All courts are closed Wednesday in observance of Yom Kippur.

Flood warning extended for rivers

Posted October 4, 2022 at 11:56 AM EDT

A Flood Warning has been extended for the Alafia River and Little Manatee rivers, and continues for the Myakka, Peace rivers, and Horse Creek, according to the National Weather Service.

Dry conditions over the next several days should allow the flood waters to gradually recede.

The flooding at the Peace River continues to affect roads in and around Arcadia. Portions of State Roads 70 and 72 continue to be closed.

Manatee schools are back open

Posted October 4, 2022 at 9:05 AM EDT

Manatee County schools resumed regular operations Tuesday after closing prior to the arrival of Hurricane Ian. Bus transportation, after-school activities and athletics are all back.

Sarasota County public schools remained closed until further notice as crews continue to assess, clean and repair damage at district facilities.

US 17 reopens in DeSoto, Hardee

Posted October 4, 2022 at 8:57 AM EDT

The Florida Highway Patrol says all lanes are back open on US 17 in DeSoto and Hardee counties.

State Roads 70 and 72 remain closed in DeSoto.

Tuesday morning power outage update

Posted October 4, 2022 at 6:24 AM EDT

Nearly 439,000 people remain without power across the state, although residents of the immediate Tampa Bay region have largely had their service restored.

As of Tuesday at 6 a.m., 827 Tampa Electric customers are still without power, along with 1,990 Duke Energy customers and 1,174 with Lakeland Electric.

Florida Power and Light, which services Sarasota and Manatee counties along with other areas across the state, reports 260,768 people are still without service.

Click here for updatesacross the state.

Hillsborough, Manatee nature preserves begin reopening

Posted October 4, 2022 at 5:29 AM EDT

Several nature preserves across Hillsborough and Manatee counties have reopened after they were closed due to flooding from Hurricane Ian.

These include Cockroach Bay in Ruskin and Cypress Creek in Tampa.

But Lithia Springs Conservation Park and more than 20 county nature preserves remain closed because of high water, downed trees, or other issues related to Hurricane Ian.

Click herefor an updated list of the Hillsborough parks and preserves that remain closed.

In Manatee County, Coquina Beach joins Manatee Beach and Bayfront Park in opening on Tuesday, bu only from Cortez Beach south to the concession stand.

Other parks should reopen later this week.

Points of distribution sites set

Posted October 4, 2022 at 5:18 AM EDT

The state's Department of Emergency management has set up 28 sites in Sarasota County and across Southwest Florida where residents can pick up food, water, and ice. Additional sites will be established based on need.

Click herefor a list of the sites.

State clears way for jobless benefits after Ian

Posted October 3, 2022 at 1:40 PM EDT
Responders from the de Moya Group survey damage to the bridge leading to Pine Island, to start building temporary access to the island in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Matlacha, Fla., Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022. The only bridge to the island is heavily damaged so it can only be reached by boat or air. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Gerald Herbert/AP
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AP
Responders from the de Moya Group survey damage to the bridge leading to Pine Island, to start building temporary access to the island in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Matlacha, Fla., Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022. The only bridge to the island is heavily damaged so it can only be reached by boat or air. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

State officials have taken steps to make it easier for people in areas affected by Hurricane Ian to receive unemployment benefits, as recovery efforts from the massive storm continued Monday and the death toll mounted.

The state, in part, temporarily eliminated what is known as a “waiting week” before unemployment benefits can be paid. Also, it removed a requirement that applicants contact five potential employers a week to keep unemployment benefits flowing.

“There is no need for red tape in a time like this,” Department of Economic Opportunity Secretary Dane Eagle said Monday during a briefing at the state Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee. “I know people personally back home who don't even have a job to go to. The restaurant at the beach is completely gone.”

The changes apply to people in counties that are under a Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster declaration. Those counties are Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Flagler, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Orange, Osceola, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns and Volusia counties.
> Read more

Hillsborough Head Start Centers closed Monday, will reopen Tuesday

Posted October 3, 2022 at 7:19 AM EDT

All Hillsborough County Board of County Commission Head Start and Early Head Start Centers will close on Monday, Oct. 3 for children and families to allow for staff to assess and cleanup the centers.

All Head Start and Early Head Start Centers will reopen at their regular time on Tuesday, Oct. 4 for normal operations with children and families.

Five of the centers lost power due to Hurricane Ian. The power has been restored at all locations, but staff needs to evaluate each center and get them ready for Tuesday's opening.

Medical examiners report raises Lee County's Hurricane Ian death toll to 42, statewide rises to 58

Posted October 3, 2022 at 7:14 AM EDT

Lee County's Hurricane Ian-related deaths was placed at 42 and statewide deaths at 58 after an updated report Sunday from The Florida District Medical Examiners to the Medical Examiners Commission.

The report was made after the deaths were confirmed by autopsy as storm-related.

The deaths attributed to Hurricane Ian confirmed by the MEC from the counties:

Collier – 3; Hendry – 1; Hillsborough – 1; Lake – 1; Lee – 42; Manatee – 2; Sarasota – 3; Volusia – 5

> Read more

In Hurricane Ian's wake, dangers persist, worsen in parts

Posted October 3, 2022 at 7:13 AM EDT
People stand on the destroyed bridge to Pine Island as they view the damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Matlacha, Fla., Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022. The only bridge to the island is heavily damaged so it can only be reached by boat or air. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Gerald Herbert/AP
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AP
People stand on the destroyed bridge to Pine Island as they view the damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Matlacha, Fla., Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022. The only bridge to the island is heavily damaged so it can only be reached by boat or air. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

People kayaking down streets that were passable just a day or two earlier. Hundreds of thousands without power. National Guard helicopters flying rescue missions to residents still stranded on Florida’s barrier islands.

Days after Hurricane Ian carved a path of destruction from Florida to the Carolinas, the dangers persisted, and even worsened in some places. It was clear the road to recovery from this monster storm will be long and painful.

And Ian was still not done. The storm doused Virginia with rain Sunday, and officials warned of the potential for severe flooding along its coast, beginning overnight Monday.

Ian's remnants moved offshore and formed a nor’easter that is expected to pile even more water into an already inundated Chesapeake Bay and threatened to cause the most significant tidal flooding event in Virginia’s Hampton Roads region in the last 10 to 15 years, said Cody Poche, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

> Read more

Update on power outages

Posted October 2, 2022 at 6:29 PM EDT

As of Sunday, Tampa Electric says it has restored power to 280,000 customers who lost service after Hurricane Ian.

Around 16,500 remain without power, or 6 percent of its customers.

TECO says it hopes to restore power in parts of eastern Hillsborough County and Polk County, which suffered the most damage, by Monday night.

Overall, more than 740,000 customers are without power across the state, including around 50,000 with Duke Energy, 461,000 with Florida Power and Light, and 6,100 with Lakeland Electric.

Click herefor an update on power outages across the state.

Manatee boil-water notice rescinded

Posted October 2, 2022 at 4:47 PM EDT

Boil water advisories were rescinded yesterday [Sunday] in Manatee County for residents in Anna Maria, Bradenton Beach, and Holmes Beach.

This also applies to some mobile home residents who had their service interrupted following Hurricane Ian.

Normal trash pickup will resume today [Monday], but recycling collections will be suspended until further notice so drivers can concentrate on trash and debris collection. Several drop-off recycling sites have been set up across the county.

Stories from a Lee County shelter

Posted October 2, 2022 at 2:17 PM EDT
Blonde woman wearing a black top and white pants, flipping through sopping wet pages of an address book. The blue ink bleeds all throughout the white pages.
Jessica Meszaros
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WUSF Public Media
Eileen Whalen of Sanibel Island is sitting in front of the Hertz Arena, which is being used as a shelter for people displaced by Hurricane Ian. She's trying to find numbers of family and friends to call in her hand-written address book that's soaking wet from flooding in her home.

Hertz Arena in Estero, which is usually home to the minor-league hockey team Florida Everblades, has now become a shelter to those displaced by Hurricane Ian. On Saturday, busloads of people arrived from the devastated areas of Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island.

Eileen Whalen and her husband arrived Saturday afternoon, having just been rescued from Sanibel.

They had been in their flooded home without phone service or power since Hurricane Ian made landfall Wednesday, crumbling the lone causeway connecting to the mainland.

Whalen said she kept looking for help from others still on the island.

"I stood outside and waved my arms and yelled. I found a man on a bicycle two times. And he went and got the police,” Whalen said.

> Read more

Early claims show big losses

Posted October 2, 2022 at 2:15 PM EDT

A first batch of insurance claims from Hurricane Ian showed nearly $474 million in estimated insured losses, according to data posted on the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation website.

Insurers were required to begin submitting claims data Friday and will continue submitting the information each day through Oct. 7.

The first batch included 62,047 claims, with estimated losses totaling $473.828 million.

> Read more

Low-interest loans available for Ian recovery

Posted October 2, 2022 at 1:38 PM EDT

Businesses and residents across Florida that suffered losses following Hurricane Ian can now receive low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Businesses and private nonprofit organizations can borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster-damaged or destroyed real estate or other business assets.

The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is Nov. 28. The deadline to return economic injury applications is June 29, 2023.

Applications are available on the Small Business Administration website.

FHP warns: Avoid US 17

Posted October 2, 2022 at 10:08 AM EDT

The Florida Highway Patrol is urging motorists to avoid US 17 due to multiple road closures. The roadway is closed at these locations:

  • Carter Street to Fletcher Street
  • Sweetwater to State Road 70
  • Tennessee Street to Sweetwater

FHP also warns of multiple traffic signals out in the area, along with flooding and debris in the roadways.

Sarasota levee break

Posted October 2, 2022 at 9:55 AM EDT

44 confirmed dead in Lee County

Posted October 2, 2022 at 6:30 AM EDT

A report from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement placed Lee County at the forefront of deaths from Hurricane Ian with 30 of the 44 confirmed thus far.

Florida District Medical Examiners report hurricane deaths to the Medical Examiners Commission (MEC) following autopsy after confirming the death is storm-related. FDLE staffs the Florida Medical Examiners Commission.

There are now 44 deaths attributed to Hurricane Ian confirmed by the MEC from the counties below.

Lake – 1; Sarasota – 3; Manatee – 1; Volusia – 5; Collier – 3; Lee – 30; Hendry – 1.

Duke nears full power

Posted October 1, 2022 at 6:26 PM EDT

Duke Energy says it hopes to have power restored to 90% of its customers counties by Sunday.

As of Saturday afternoon, more than 861,000 customers have had their power restored with around 171,000 still without power.

Duke Energy serves 1.9 million customers across the state.

Florida National Guard lends a hand in Sarasota

Posted October 1, 2022 at 6:24 PM EDT
Florida National Guard and other volunteers at a distribution center
Cathy Carter
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WUSF Public Media
A steady stream of cars pulled up to a white canopied tent at the Venice Community Center on Oct. 1, 2022, where members of the Florida National Guard loaded up vehicles with cases of bottled water and ready-to-eat meals.

Sarasota County has set up numerous distribution sites to help residents with food and supplies in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.

A steady stream of cars pulled up to a white canopied tent Saturday at the Venice Community Center where members of the Florida National Guard loaded up vehicles with cases of bottled water and ready-to-eat meals.

The distribution centers will continue to operate Sunday and Monday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

> Read more

Water service restored in Manatee

Posted October 1, 2022 at 5:49 PM EDT

Water service has been restored for all Manatee County residents as of Saturday afternoon.

Officials say crews with Manatee County Utilities have also been able to provide more water for Sarasota County.

Customers in mobile home parks and those who have recently had water service restored are still under a boil water advisory through Sunday.

Residents and visitors are still being asked to limit showers, toilet flushes and laundry to reduce impacts on the county's waste-water system.

Help comes to Hardee County from far and wide

Posted October 1, 2022 at 5:21 PM EDT
Exterior of trailer
Gabriella Paul
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WUSF Public Media
Responders are operating on an Incident Emergency Plan that’s created every 24 hours, out of a building running on a generator and a trailer provided by Florida Department of Emergency Services.

Around 50 emergency city, state and national responders have set up operations in Wauchula, a rural Florida town in Hardee County, as search and rescue efforts continue following Hurricane Ian.

Brett Deedon, an information officer with Oregon’s Fire Marshal Incident Management Team, arrived in Wauchula along with 12 others from his office following a request from the state of Florida on Monday to assist with Hurricane Ian.

Deedon said the data on search and rescue missions is still being compiled.

“On the 29th, there were 49 water rescues by high-water boat rescue and four pet rescues as well. That’s just on the fire and rescue side,” Deedon said, adding that number doesn’t account for search and rescues completed by the National Guard or EMS strike teams that are also on site.

He said his team has traveled the farthest, with three others from Virginia, Ohio and New York. They arrived in Tallahassee and traveled through Gainesville before heading to Hardee County.

> Read more

I-75 reopens in Sarasota County

Posted October 1, 2022 at 5:11 PM EDT

Law enforcement comes to DeSoto's aid

Posted October 1, 2022 at 2:18 PM EDT
Law enforcement gathering water and helping assist DeSoto County in Hurricane Ian recovery
DeSoto County Sheriff's Office
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Facebook
Deputies with the DeSoto, Lafayette, Hendry and Taylor County Sheriff’s Offices load water, unload at a boat ramp, and then leave to deliver it to those landlocked from the flooding in DeSoto County.

Sheriff's offices around Florida are assisting DeSoto County in dealing with flooding after Hurricane Ian.

In a post on the DeSoto County Sheriff's Office Facebook page, the department showed how deputies from Lafayette County in North Florida, Hendry County in South Florida, and Taylor County in the Florida Panhandle.

> Read more

Looters are warned

Posted October 1, 2022 at 2:16 PM EDT

Gov. Ron DeSantis vowed that looting and taking advantage of people already suffering from the devastating impacts of Hurricane Ian will not be tolerated.

Officials said there’s round-the-clock law enforcement on the barrier islands; places most impacted by Ian’s wrath.

Attorney General Ashley Moody took it a step further saying she wants looters to stay in jail and not be released on bond. Moody also said maintaining law and order in the aftermath of the catastrophic damage is a top priority and that she’s reached out to state attorneys with specific directives and requests to that end.

> Read more

How you can help the victims

Posted October 1, 2022 at 12:06 PM EDT

Organizations across the state — and nationwide — are mobilizing in an effort to help those who have been impacted by Hurricane Ian.

They're offering ways to not only donate goods and money to assist communities across Florida, but also to give of your time and make yourself available to provide emergency assistance and help directly in the areas most hard-hit.

> Read more

Updates from Sarasota, including a possible levee break

Posted October 1, 2022 at 10:04 AM EDT

Parts of I-75 are shut down due to rising Myakka River

Posted October 1, 2022 at 6:51 AM EDT

[UPDATE]: Drivers in Sarasota County are facing major headaches as I-75 is closed due to the rising Myakka River. Overnight, FHP troopers consolidated the I-75 closure at Sumter Boulevard in Sarasota County due to the rising Myakka River. The interstate is now only closed southbound at Exit 193 (Jacaranda Boulevard) and northbound at Exit 179 (North Port / Toledo Blade Boulevard).

[PREVIOUS POST:] Drivers in Sarasota County are facing major headaches as a long stretch of I-75 is closed due to the rising Myakka River.

The road is no longer safe for drivers, so it was shut down in both directions from mile marker 179 (North Port / Toledo Blade Blvd) to mile marker 191 (Englewood / Jacaranda Blvd).

Drivers planning on traveling on I-75 to southwest Florida should seek an alternative route or follow the detours suggested by the Florida Department of Transportation.

> Details on the detours

Most Tampa Bay area schools will reopen Monday

Posted October 1, 2022 at 6:24 AM EDT

Most public school districts in the greater Tampa Bay region are planning to reopen Monday after assessing campuses in the wake of Hurriane Ian.

That includes Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Polk counties.

Manatee County officials say schools will be closed at least through Monday due to traffic lights not working around the county.

Sarasota County schools will remain closed until further notice. A reopening announcement will be made once the safety of students and employees can be ensured.

> Read more

How to report someone missing from Ian

Posted October 1, 2022 at 4:11 AM EDT

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced late Friday how to report someone missing following Hurricane Ian.

According to a news release from the governor's office, the state website for reporting missing persons related to the storm is http://missing.fl.gov.

If you need to report a missing person, fill out the form on behalf of “Someone Else.” You can also fill out the form on behalf of yourself if communications are limited.

Safe and found persons can be reported safe at http://safe.fl.gov.

Ian's U.S. death toll climbs to 27

Posted September 30, 2022 at 11:40 PM EDT

The U.S. death toll from Hurricane Ian has risen to 27 as of Friday night.

According to Florida's Medical Examiners Commission, several new deaths were attributed to the storm, including a 62-year-old woman who died after suffering injuries and drowning when a tree fell on a mobile home, a 54-year-old man who was found trapped in a window after drowning, and a female who was found tangled in wires under a residence in Lee County.

Other deaths reported earlier included a 22-year-old woman who was ejected from an ATV rollover Friday because of a road washout in Manatee County and a 71-year-old man who died of head injuries when he fell off a roof while putting up rain shutters on Wednesday.

Another three people died in Cuba earlier in the week as the storm churned northward.

The death toll was expected to increase substantially once emergency officials have an opportunity to search many of the hardest-hit areas.

Hundreds of North Port residents trapped by flooded waters after Hurricane Ian

Posted September 30, 2022 at 10:27 PM EDT
Two men in camouflage stand in flooded street with highway traffic sign in foreground.
National Guard troops from Bonifay, in Florida's panhandle prepare to assist with rescue of residents trapped in flooded neighborhoods in North Port.

Todd Grimm parked his truck on the shoulder of exit 182 off I-75 Friday morning and looked at a body of water where pavement is typically present.

Grimm lives in North Port Estates, which borders Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in southern Sarasota County.

"(Thursday) we had four feet of water in the street, so everybody was on an island at their houses just watching the water rise and rise," he said. "Everybody had their boats and their kayaks and our neighbor had a monster truck and he barely got us out."

On Friday, several residents were paddling back into the neighborhood, where hundreds of people remain trapped following Hurricane Ian.

> Read more

Ian makes landfall again, this time in South Carolina

Posted September 30, 2022 at 3:05 PM EDT
A firefighter examines a large tree across a road as the effects from Hurricane Ian are felt, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Alex Brandon/AP
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AP
A firefighter examines a large tree across a road as the effects from Hurricane Ian are felt, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Hurricane Ian made another landfall Friday, this time in South Carolina, after carving a swath of destruction across Florida earlier this week.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Ian’s center came ashore Friday afternoon near Georgetown with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph (140 kph).

Ian hit Florida’s Gulf Coast as a powerful Category 4 hurricane with 150 mph (240 kph) winds Wednesday, flooding homes and leaving nearly 2.7 million people without power.

Before landfall, Sheets of rain whipped trees and power lines and left many areas on Charleston’s downtown peninsula under water by midday. A popular pier in the beach community of Pawleys Island collapsed and floated away. In Myrtle Beach, waves were pushing against the city’s boardwalk tourist area, flowing over where thousands of tourists typically fill the wide sandy stretch.

> Read more

Orlando International Airport resumes passenger flights

Posted September 30, 2022 at 11:30 AM EDT

Orlando International Airport announced Friday that, as of noon, it was resuming passenger flights.

A preliminary survey found minor damage to airport facilities following Hurricane Ian’s passage as a tropical storm. And Orlando International hopes to resume normal airport operations fully within 24 hours.

Melbourne Orlando International Airport reopened at 6 a.m. Friday and was back to normal.

Daytona Beach International Airport remained closed as of Friday morning.

Also in Central Florida, the LYNX bus system is resuming its fixed routes using the Sunday schedule through this weekend.

Some routes began at 9:30 a.m. Friday. Others will start only when it’s safe to do so. And routes could be modified for safety reasons or to comply with curfews.

Ian's floodwaters rush into St. Augustine, close A1A and Bridge of Lions

Posted September 30, 2022 at 11:18 AM EDT
State Road A1A in downtown St. Augustine was flooded during Tropical Storm Ian.
WJCT
State Road A1A in downtown St. Augustine was flooded during Tropical Storm Ian.

Downtown St. Augustine felt the force of Tropical Storm Ian on Thursday as water breached the seawall and rushed into the historic city.

By afternoon, water had flooded State Road A1A near the Bridge of Lions and pushed inland toward North Ponce De Leon Boulevard.

Significant flooding also hit St. Hastings, Flagler Estates and other low-lying areas, comparable to what the region experienced during Hurricane Matthew in 2016, said County Administrator Hunter Conrad.

St. Johns County recorded sustained winds of 35 to 50 mph with higher gusts. More than 300 people were rescued Thursday, said St. Johns County Fire Rescue Chief Jeff Prevatt.

“We are still actively responding to calls. We have made multiple rescues today. And, if you don't need to be out in this weather in the storm, it's a long way from over. Please stay home,” Prevatt said.

The Bridge of Lions was closed and will reopen when flooding subsides.

Greg Caldwell, St. Johns County’s director of public works, said his team tried to assess properties along A1A but couldn’t go farther south that State Road 206. "There’s a lot of flooding going on on those roads out there,” he said.

City officials urged people to stay out of the area and avoid driving through standing water. St. Augustine’s city manager said moving vehicles can push water into houses that were not previously flooded.

Information was provided to WJCT from partners NewsJax4 and Jacksonville Today.

Treasure Coast escapes the worst of Ian

Posted September 30, 2022 at 11:01 AM EDT
A toppled tree blocks a road in Okeechobee County after Tropical Storm Ian passed through.
WGCU
A toppled tree blocks a road in Okeechobee County after Tropical Storm Ian passed through.

Florida's Treasure Coast appears to have dodged the worst of Ian, which swept across the area Wednesday night as a tropical storm.

There were power outages, trees down, some flooding and property damage, but no fatalities reported as of Thursday.

Okeechobee County appears to have suffered the worst in the region on Florida's east coast. Over 17,000 people lost power, some mobile homes suffered damage and flooding also appears to have been a greater problem.

“Overall we feel quite fortunate, we are definitely not as severely impacted as the west coast was," she said. "They are in our thoughts and prayers.”

In St. Lucie County, about 12% of Fort Pierce Utilities Authority customers in St. Lucie County lost power, but restoration efforts were underway Thursday morning, said director of utilities Javier Cisneros.

“There was flooding in swales and yards and roads," said St. Lucie County communications director Eric Gill, "but we haven’t had a lot of reports of damage to homes.”

In Martin County Emergency Management Director Sally Waite said, “We’ve had about 14,000 people without power," and "we do have a couple of trees down."

But there were no reported injuries overnight and no serious structural damage.

"We’ve had some minor flooding," said Waite.

“We had approximately 75 people that were sheltering," said Emergency Management coordinator Ryan Lloyd.

The shelters closed Thursday afternoon.

Flood warnings issued for rivers in Tampa area

Posted September 30, 2022 at 10:44 AM EDT

The National Weather Service extended a flood warning for several rivers in the Tampa Bay area as of 10 a.m. Friday.

  • Alafia River at Lithia affecting Hillsborough County. The maximum river stage in the 24 hours ending at 9 a.m. Friday was 17.9 feet and a crest of 18.6 feet is expected just after midnight Saturday. It will go below flood stages late Tuesday evening. Flood stage is 13 feet.
  • Little Manatee River at Wimauma at US 301 affecting Hillsborough County.
  • Manatee River at Rye Bridge affecting Manatee County.
  • Manatee River near Myakka Head at State Road 64 affecting Manatee County.
  • Myakka River at Myakka River State Park affecting Sarasota County.
  • Peace River at Zolfo Springs at State Road 17 affecting Hardee County.
  • Peace River at Arcadia at State Road 70 affecting Desoto County.
  • Peace River at Bartow affecting Polk County.
  • Horse Creek near Arcadia at State Road 72 affecting Desoto County.

Heavy rainfall associated with Ian continues to cause major flooding issues along many area rivers.

  • Alafia, including Lithia and Riverview near US 301 – moderate flooding is forecast.
  • Little Manatee, including Wimauma at US 301 – major flooding is forecast.
  • Manatee River, including Myakka Head at State Road 64, Rye Bridge – minor flooding is forecast.
  • Myakka, including Myakka River State Park - major flooding is forecast.
  • Peace, including Bartow, Zolfo Springs at State Road and Arcadia at SR 70 - major flooding is forecast.
  • Horse Creek, including Arcadia at State Road 72 - major flooding is forecast.

Additional information is available atweather.gov.

Hurricane Ian heads for Carolinas after pounding Florida

Posted September 30, 2022 at 7:31 AM EDT
Damaged structures are seen in the wake of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee
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AP
Damaged structures are seen in the wake of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla.

A revived Hurricane Ian set its sights on South Carolina's coast Friday and the historic city of Charleston, with forecasters predicting a storm surge and floods after the megastorm caused catastrophic damage in Florida and left people trapped in their homes.

With all of South Carolina’s coast under a hurricane warning, a steady stream of vehicles left Charleston on Thursday, many likely heeding officials’ warnings to seek higher ground. Storefronts were sandbagged to ward off high water levels in an area prone to inundation.

Along the Battery area at the southern tip of the 350-year-old city’s peninsula, locals and tourists alike took selfies against the choppy backdrop of whitecaps in Charleston Harbor as palm trees bent in gusty wind.

With winds holding at 85 mph (140 kph), the National Hurricane Center's update at 5 a.m. Friday placed Ian about 145 miles (235 km) southeast of Charleston and forecast a “life-threatening storm surge” and hurricane conditions along the Carolina coastal area later Friday.

> Read more

Fort Myers photographer captures powerful images in Hurricane Ian's aftermath

Posted September 30, 2022 at 7:11 AM EDT
James Grey looks for his house baot on Thursday (9/29/22) along the Caloosahatchee River in downtown Fort Myers, Flrodia. "The dream is gone," Grey said of losing his house boat. The storm surge from Hurricane Ian flooded most of downtown Fort Myers.
Kinfay Moroti
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WGCU
James Grey looks for his house baot on Thursday (9/29/22) along the Caloosahatchee River in downtown Fort Myers, Flrodia. "The dream is gone," Grey said of losing his house boat. The storm surge from Hurricane Ian flooded most of downtown Fort Myers.

Kinfay Moroti, a Fort Myers photographer, found power, hopelessness and hope in a variety of images taken following the deadly passage of Hurricane Ian in Southwest Florida.

> See more

Despite damage, some Manatee County residents say they fared well during Hurricane Ian

Posted September 30, 2022 at 6:43 AM EDT
flooded street with downed tree branches
Stephanie Colombini
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WUSF Public Media
People who visited Anna Maria Island on Thursday said they were dealing with power outages and minor storm damage, but ultimately felt grateful Ian had spared them the worst.

Many residents in the Tampa Bay region are feeling lucky after Hurricane Ian spared them from the more severe damage it inflicted on other parts of Florida.

But signs of the storm were still evident on the barrier islands of Manatee County on Thursday, a day after the storm made landfall in Southwest Florida. More than 100,000 people in the county were without power as of Thursday afternoon. Still residents say things could have been much worse.

Driving onto Anna Maria Island, there were downed palm trees and broken store signs. Some traffic lights were out and the occasional street was covered in floodwater. But the clearest remnant of Ian's presence was on the beach, where wind howled and the usually calm Gulf of Mexico waters were filled with choppy waves. Windows on waterfront condos and homes were shuttered to protect against the storm.

This was one of many coastal communities in the region where officials ordered residents to evacuate as Hurricane Ian was forecast to hit the Tampa area. But not everyone left, hoping it would steer clear as it did.

> Read more

'Lee and Charlotte are basically off the grid,' DeSantis says in grim update

Posted September 29, 2022 at 3:29 PM EDT

Though downgraded from a hurricane, Tropical Storm Ian remained a threat Thursday to Central Florida and Northeast Florida, state officials said, after the massive storm brought destruction to the southwestern part of the state.

“The impacts of this storm are historic,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a Thursday morning press briefing. “The damage that was done has been historic, and this is just (based) off initial assessments. There’s going to be a lot more assessing that goes on in the days ahead.”

President Joe Biden formally issued a disaster declaration and told DeSantis that he was dispatching Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell to Florida on Friday to check in on response efforts and to gauge where additional support will be needed. The declaration makes federal assistance available to affected people in parts of Florida and provides help to the state and local governments with costs of debris removal and emergency-protective measures

DeSantis said Ian caused unprecedented storm surge and flooding. The storm came ashore Wednesday in Lee and Charlotte counties as a Category 4 storm, and efforts were underway Thursday to identify and rescue people who remained in danger.

> Read more

Sunshine Skyway is now open

Posted September 29, 2022 at 3:28 PM EDT

Castor: Tampa fared 'comparatively' well; helping SW Florida is a priority

Posted September 29, 2022 at 3:25 PM EDT
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor (center) and police Chief Mary O'Conner give an update on Hurricane Ian on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022. Castor warned of downed trees, flooding and power outages -- and told people if they haven't evacuated by now, they should stay where they are. O’Connor said the city is enhancing penalties for those charged with property crimes during the storm.
City of Tampa
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Twitter
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor (center) and police Chief Mary O'Conner give an update on Hurricane Ian on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022. Castor warned of downed trees, flooding and power outages -- and told people if they haven't evacuated by now, they should stay where they are. O’Connor said the city is enhancing penalties for those charged with property crimes during the storm.

Noting that “you can’t count on predictions,” Tampa Mayor Jane Castor on Thursday reported that the city fared well during Hurricane Ian but her primary concern was the counties hit hardest by the storm.

“Well, if you look at it comparatively, we came through very, very well,” Castor said.

The mayor said there have been no reports of large-scale flooding in Tampa but that several thousand people remained without power throughout the region. Tampa Electric has been prepared with 3,000 additional line personnel to assist in restoring service, she added.

Castor reported a number of trees uprooted and streetlights that are out. but the city was in the process of assessment and repairs.

> Read more

Bucs will play Chiefs as scheduled in Tampa, but team's thoughts are with Ian victims

Posted September 29, 2022 at 2:02 PM EDT

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who moved their football operations to South Florida to avoid Hurricane Ian, say they are ready to return home to play the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night.

The team practiced at the Miami Dolphins’ training facility on Wednesday, describing the experience as different, but insisting the disruption to their routine will not hinder their ability to prepare for the team they beat in the Super Bowl two seasons ago.

"Our thoughts and prayers remain with the many thousands in the Southwest Florida region who have been severely impacted by Hurricane Ian. We are also very thankful that the Tampa Bay area was spared the most damaging consequences of this powerful storm," the team said in a statement Thursday.

"We have informed the NFL, after consulting with local and state agencies, that we are ready to play Sunday night's game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Raymond James Stadium as originally scheduled.

"We would like to thank all of the local government agencies and the thousands of emergency personnel who worked tirelessly over the past few days to ensure that our area would be ready to respond if needed. We would also like to acknowledge the Miami Dolphins organization for their assistance and hospitality in allowing us to use their practice facilities this week.

"We also want to express our sincere appreciation to the first responders and emergency personnel who are already battling the elements, saving lives, and helping our neighbors in those most impacted areas to our south."

The team said it will later announce ways to "join together to support our community and those most impacted by the storm."

The Bucs allowed family members, and even some pets, to accompany players and coaches in relocating ahead of the storm making landfall on Florida’s west coast.

One player — linebacker Devin White — was not able to take his animals to South Florida. He has a stable or horses and is an avid rider.

“I think my barn is more expensive than my house,” White said. “I’ve been watching the cameras, and I have somebody working at the barn that stayed behind. So hopefully, everybody there is safe and we can get past it.”

This is not the first time the Bucs have evacuated players and families with a hurricane approaching.

Hurricane Irma forced postponement of a Week 1 matchup against the Dolphins in 2017, when the Bucs flew some players and their families to Charlotte, North Carolina, to wait out the storm. Others chose to drive to destinations in north Florida, Alabama and Georgia, while the NFL rescheduled the game to a bye date shared by the Bucs and Dolphins.

Tampa area rivers at or near flood stage

Posted September 29, 2022 at 1:26 PM EDT

Several area rivers are near or in major flood stage in the wake of Hurricane Ian’s rain.

WUSF's Ray Hawthorne, who is a meteorologist, says heavy rain during the last week of August and earlier this month is making it easier for rivers to flood.

“Rainfall in September had already been running nearly twice the average in parts of the Tampa Bay region," Hawthorne said. "Ian has added more to that. The Myakka River State Park in Sarasota County is expected to be at major flood stage through the first week of October, and the Alafia River near Wimauma will be in major flood stage until Saturday.

And the Peace River at Bartow, Zolfo Springs, and Arcadia is in a similar situation, with moderate to major flooding expected through the first week of October.”

Hawthorne says radar estimated 6 inches of rain in southern Hillsborough County to as much as 20 inches near North Port in Sarasota County from Hurricane Ian. He says little or no rain is expected through next week.

Pasco County evacuation order has been lifted

Posted September 29, 2022 at 11:43 AM EDT

Pasco County announced Thursday that it is lifting all evacuation orders and that government offices will reopen on Friday.

All shelters are closed except for the Mike Fasano Regional Hurricane Shelter.

Damage assessment and repairs are ongoing.

In addition, animal services will reopen at noon Friday and senior centers will reopen on Monday.

Pinellas Park resuming normal operations

Posted September 29, 2022 at 11:36 AM EDT

Pinellas Park says it will reopen all city offices, rec centers and the library on Friday and resume normal business operations.

The city has already opened a vegetation debris drop-off location at 6101 78th Ave N. Enter from 62nd Street. The site is serving Pinellas Park residents only, no commercial contractors will be allowed. Hours are 9 am to 5 pm.

For information, call (727) 464-4333 or click here.

'Right now, there is no pier'

Posted September 29, 2022 at 11:31 AM EDT

The Naples Pier, a top tourist destination, has been destroyed by Hurricane Ian, with even the pilings torn out, a Colier County official said Thursday.

The storm sent waves of at least 20 feet over the historic structure, said Penny Taylor, a commissioner in Collier County.

“Right now, there is no pier,” Taylor said.

Hillsborough lifts evacuation order

Posted September 29, 2022 at 10:08 AM EDT

Following initial safety assessments, Hillsborough County has rescinded evacuation orders issued for Hurricane Ian.

MacDill Air Force Base remains closed. The base is assessing damages and will announce when it is safe to return.

Officials urge residents returning to their homes to use caution to avoid driving through standing water and obstructions, and to stay clear of downed power lines. Also, some traffic lights are not working.

The county is preparing to conclude sheltering operations and transitioning shelters for evacuees who still need assistance.

Residents whose homes have been damaged are encouraged to find a safe place to stay, such as with family, friends, or a nearby hotel.

Tampa International Airport flights will resume Friday morning

Posted September 29, 2022 at 9:58 AM EDT
Tampa International Airport maintenance and operations staff inspected the airfield and facilities Thursday morning, Sept. 29, 2022, and determined the airport did not sustain any serious damage during Hurricane Ian.
Tampa International Airport
Tampa International Airport maintenance and operations staff inspected the airfield and facilities Thursday morning, Sept. 29, 2022, and determined the airport did not sustain any serious damage during Hurricane Ian.

Tampa International Airport said it will resume commercial operations on Friday at 10 a.m.

Maintenance and operations staff inspected the airfield and facilities Thursday morning and determined the airport did not sustain any serious damage during Ian.

Parking facilities, the rental car center, and TSA security checkpoints will also reopen Friday

"With high passenger volumes expected, passengers are urged to arrive at the airport at least two hours before their scheduled departure," the airport said in a prepared statement.

"We feel very lucky to have come out on the other side of this largely unscathed and are eager to restart operations after such a fraught and anxious week," Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano said. "We can now continue serving as an important resource for our travelers and community, and begin helping our fellow Floridians in their time of need."

TPA suspended operations at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Passengers should check with their airlines for the latest information on flight status.

Early view from St. Petersburg

Posted September 29, 2022 at 8:39 AM EDT

Ian leaves behind a swath of flooding

Posted September 29, 2022 at 8:21 AM EDT
Future radar for Ian
Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

Major Hurricane Ian made landfall near Cayo Costa shortly after 3 PM Wednesday and more than twelve hours later, it is still bringing flash flooding to central Florida before an eventual exit along the east coast.

Hurricane Ian made landfall as a strong Category 4 storm with winds of 155 miles per hour in southwest Florida Wednesday afternoon. After bringing a double-digit storm surge to areas along the Lee Island Coast, Hurricane Ian prompted flash flood emergencies from Sebring to Port Charlotte. As Hurricane Ian shifted north-northeast early Thursday morning, training of heavy rainfall in rain bands brought flash flooding to the Orlando area.

> Read more

Pinellas evacuations lifted

Posted September 29, 2022 at 8:18 AM EDT

Mandatory evacuation orders for Pinellas County have been lifted for all evacuation zones, mobile home communities and residential health care facilities effective 9 a.m. Thursday. Residents who evacuated due to the hurricane threat may return home using caution.

A grim update from Lee County officials

Posted September 29, 2022 at 7:34 AM EDT

It was a grim assessment late Wednesday.

The impacts of Hurricane Ian undoubtedly caused extensive infrastructure damage, likely deaths, sparked some looting, and resulted in the activation of a county-wide curfew as of 6 p.m.

"Our community has been, in some respects, decimated," Roger DesJarlais, the Lee County manager, said during a briefing Wednesday at the Lee County Emergency Operations Center on Ortiz Avenue. "There is tremendous damage on Sanibel and Fort Myers Beach."

DesJarlais alluded to the loss of power for 80 percent of FPL customers in Lee County and 75 percent of LCEC customers.

> Read more

Bridges remain closed

Posted September 29, 2022 at 6:40 AM EDT

Several bridges remain closed across the greater Tampa Bay region. These includes the Sunshine Skyway, along with the John Ringling Causeway Bridge in Sarasota, the Memorial Causeway Bridge leading out to Clearwater Beach, and the Cortez and Manatee bridges in Bradenton. The bridges will reopen once they are no longer sustaining tropical storm-force winds.

A reminder on generator safety

Posted September 29, 2022 at 6:31 AM EDT

Clearing conditions across Tampa Bay

Posted September 29, 2022 at 6:18 AM EDT
Future rainfall chart for Ian
Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

Hurricane Ian weakened into a tropical depression early Thursday morning as moves northeast across Florida, but not before causing widespread damage and flooding rains across much of the southwestern part of the state.

After topping out as a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph, Ian is now a tropical storm located around 40 miles southeast of Orlando and 35 miles southwest of Cape Canaveral.

> Read more

More damage in Sarasota

Posted September 29, 2022 at 5:38 AM EDT

5 a.m. video update

Posted September 29, 2022 at 5:37 AM EDT

Here's the 5 a.m. video update from the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network:

Naples Fire Rescue station inundated

Posted September 29, 2022 at 5:23 AM EDT

A Facebook live video from the Naples Fire Rescue Department showed the agency's Station One on 8th Avenue South flooded by Hurricane Ian, with fire engines, rescue units and even firefighters and EMTs hip deep or more in water.

The live video, shot around 3 p.m. Wednesday, showed members of the department removing equipment from fire engines that had water halfway up the sides of the emergency vehicles.

The department's Station One is right behind Naples city hall.

Tarin Bachle, public information officer for Naples Fire Rescue, caught the flooding on the Facebook Live video.

The video also showed the department's brand new fire engine inside the station and nearly wheel-well deep in the flood waters.

A member of the Naples Fire Rescue Department helps unload equipment from an engine nearly half-way inundated by flood water from Hurricane Ian on Wednesday.
Braun, Michael
A member of the Naples Fire Rescue Department helps unload equipment from an engine nearly half-way inundated by flood water from Hurricane Ian on Wednesday.

Bachle described the flooding as "water rushing in."

Other portions of the station were higher and allowed other department members to keep clear of the water.

 A look at the parking lot outside the Naples Fire Rescue Station One and city hall in downtown Naples.
Braun, Michael
A look at the parking lot outside the Naples Fire Rescue Station One and city hall in downtown Naples.

In the 12-plus minute Facebook Live video Bachle estimated there was about four feet of water on the station's grounds. "Please note, everyone here is safe. We are all OK. It's just our building and our equipment," she said.

She also took time to make a plea to area residents: "We encourage you all to please stay off the roads."

At one point Bachle tried to inject a little humor into the video: "It's just another day at Naples Fire Rescue."

Copyright 2022 WGCU. To see more, visit WGCU.

Early look at Sarasota damage

Posted September 29, 2022 at 5:05 AM EDT

The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office tweeted these photos of overnight damage:

Tampa airport to become National Guard staging area

Posted September 29, 2022 at 5:02 AM EDT

Tampa International Airport remains closed Thursday morning, but about 100 employees stayed there to ride out Hurricane Ian so they can start working on reopening the airport as soon as they get the "all clear."

Airport director Joe Lopano told the BBC that not only do they want to reopen as quickly as possible for travelers, but also because the airport can be a staging area for the National Guard to help areas to the south of the Bay area devastated by the storm.

"This is critical infrastructure not only for the state but for our for our country," Lopano said. "You know, your airport cannot stay closed. You have to make sure it's operational and that it can help those in need."

Tampa International stopped commercial flights at 5 Tuesday afternoon, and Lopano said the shutdown has been costly.

"The financial hit will be in the millions," Lopano said. "For us, that means in the millions for parking and concessions revenue, food and beverage and retail; but for the region, it's the economic cost of this, of not having the the airport up and running, not having people working. So for a period of time, I mean, it's it's a big economic hit for the region."

Lopano rode out the storm with those employees at the airport — something he did for Hurricane Irma in 2017.

FEMA: Search and rescue a priority

Posted September 29, 2022 at 4:58 AM EDT

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says search and rescue will be a priority after Hurricane Ian makes landfall.

Officials are worried that some people won't heed evacuation orders.

FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell says the effort will be coordinated by air, land and sea, with the Department of Defense, FEMA Urban search and rescue, the Coast Guard, and Florida officials taking part.

“We’re talking about impacts in a part of Florida that hasn’t seen a major direct impact in nearly 100 years," Criswell said. "There’s also parts of Florida where there’s a lot of new residents that have never experienced this type of threat. So my message to them is still: Take this very seriously. Listen to your local officials."

Around 128,000 gallons of fuel are being distributed along with generators to restore power to critical infrastructure after the storm, and 29 Red Cross shelters are open throughout the state.

Tampa PD video shows Ian damage

Posted September 29, 2022 at 4:40 AM EDT

The Tampa Police Department tweeted this video of damage around the city, including a warning to not drive. The evidence is a street light that was caught on video falling during some heavy winds.

PSTA service to remain closed

Posted September 29, 2022 at 4:25 AM EDT

Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority says service will remain completely shutdown tomorrow [Thurs]. Officials announced on Twitter this evening that fixed route services will remain shutdown on Friday while staff provide evacuation services at the direction of Pinellas County emergency officials, and Essential medical transportation using PSTA Access. Full transit service will resume Saturday.

Are you caring for someone living with dementia? USF expert offers tips to weather Hurricane Ian

Posted September 29, 2022 at 4:19 AM EDT
Woman holds hand of an elderly woman holding a cane.
pikselstock - stock.adobe.com
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Protecting yourself from a hurricane is hard enough, let alone caring for a loved one with dementia who may not understand what is going on and have additional needs.

Seeking shelter during storms like Hurricane Ian can be challenging for many Floridians, but caregivers of people living with dementia often face added hardship.

It can be difficult for caregivers to travel with someone who has dementia so evacuating far from home isn't always the best option, explained Lindsay Peterson, an assistant professor with the University of South Florida's College of Aging Studies. But there are a lot of challenges with visiting local shelters or hunkering down as well, she said.

Peterson and her colleagues recently published a guide to help caregivers prepare for disasters. Health News Florida’s Stephanie Colombini talked with her about her concerns for caregivers during Hurricane Ian.

> Read more

Tampa area schools districts - except Sarasota and Manatee - plan to reopen Monday

Posted September 29, 2022 at 4:17 AM EDT

Hillsborough County and most other districts in the greater Tampa Bay region are planning to reopen schools on Monday. That includes Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Polk.

Manatee County officials say schools will be closed at least through Monday due to traffic lights not working around the county.

Sarasota County schools will remain closed until further notice. A reopening announcement will be made once the safety of students and employees can be ensured.

A Sarasota district spokesman said Friday that schools have endured "massive power outages, down power lines, flooding, basic water and plumbing issues," as well as "damage to many of our school structures." Also, schools at Tatum Ridge and Phillippi Shores are still serving as shelters.

Nearly every public school district in the state closed its buildings during the onslaught of Hurricane Ian.

At least 55 of Florida's 67 public school districts closed for at least one day, according to the state's Department of Education, district websites and social media. The districts that remained open were largely in the Panhandle.

That amounts to more than 2.5 million students out of school, based on the most recently available federal data on public school enrollment. Around 1.7 million of those students missed three days or more, and several districts have yet to announce their reopening plans.

Hillsborough closed for five days to prepare its schools to serve as emergency shelters. With more than 200,000 students, the district is the nation's sixth largest.

This week, the district sheltered around 9,000 people, and 28 school-based shelters are still open, according to Superintendent Addison Davis.

Davis says he's concerned about lost instructional time.

"We had great momentum taking place at the start of the year. This year was the first year we kind of felt like we had some normalcy," Davis says, referring to the pandemic disruptions of the two previous years. "So we got to regain that ... and really create that momentum back once again."

Information from NPR was used in this report.

Ian threatens Florida's already unstable insurance market

Posted September 28, 2022 at 7:13 PM EDT
This GOES-East GeoColor satellite image taken at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, and provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows the eye of Hurricane Ian approaching the southwest coast of Florida. Hurricane Ian's most damaging winds began hitting Florida's southwest coast Wednesday, lashing the state with heavy rain and pushing a devastating storm surge after strengthening to the threshold of the most dangerous Category 5 status. (NOAA via AP)
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NOAA
This GOES-East GeoColor satellite image taken at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, and provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows the eye of Hurricane Ian approaching the southwest coast of Florida. Hurricane Ian's most damaging winds began hitting Florida's southwest coast Wednesday, lashing the state with heavy rain and pushing a devastating storm surge after strengthening to the threshold of the most dangerous Category 5 status. (NOAA via AP)

Florida's property insurance market was already in peril. Now comes Hurricane Ian.

The massive storm that barreled into southwest Florida delivering catastrophic winds, rain and flooding is likely to further damage the insurance market in the state, which has strained under billion-dollar losses, insolvencies and skyrocketing premiums.

The scale of the storm's destruction will become more clear in the coming days but there is concern it could exacerbate existing problems and burden a state insurance program that has already seen a sharp increase in policies as homeowners struggle to find coverage in the private market.

“Florida’s property insurance market was the most volatile in the U.S. before Hurricane Ian formed and will most likely become even more unstable in the wake of the storm," said Mark Friedlander, communications director at the Insurance Information Institute.

> Read more

Ian swamps southwest Florida, trapping people in homes

Posted September 28, 2022 at 7:12 PM EDT
A truck pulls a man on a kayak on a low-lying road after flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, in Key West, Fla., Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 28, 2022.
Mary Martin
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AP
A truck pulls a man on a kayak on a low-lying road after flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, in Key West, Fla., Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 28, 2022.

Hurricane Ian, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the U.S., swamped southwest Florida on Wednesday, flooding streets and buildings, knocking out power to over 1 million people and threatening catastrophic damage further inland.

A coastal sheriff's office reported that it was getting many calls from people trapped in homes. The hurricane's center struck near Cayo Costa, a protected barrier island just west of heavily populated Fort Myers.

Mark Pritchett stepped outside his home in Venice around the time the hurricane churned ashore from the Gulf of Mexico, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) to the south. He called it “terrifying.”

“I literally couldn’t stand against the wind,” Pritchett wrote in a text message. “Rain shooting like needles. My street is a river. Limbs and trees down. And the worst is yet to come.”

> Read more

US Highway 19 closure

Posted September 28, 2022 at 6:54 PM EDT

Power outages just topped 1.4 million households in Florida

Posted September 28, 2022 at 6:29 PM EDT

Power outage data is published by the Florida Public Service Commission every three hours.

Get the lowdown on tracking outages and restoring power here.

Duke Energy is preparing its crews at The Villages to get power back after Ian

Posted September 28, 2022 at 5:04 PM EDT
Duke Energy
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Twitter
Just one of many staging sites across Duke Energy's service area.

Duke Energy is preparing its crews at The Villages in Sumter County to get power back on after Hurricane Ians passes.

Spokesperson Heather Danenhower said a variety of workers are ready for clean-up and power restoration.

"In all, about 6,000 workers that will be at this 80 acre site here and its a variety of different skill sets. Line-workers, tree trimmers, damage assessors, support staff, all ready to roll when its safe to do so after the hurricane passes through the service territory."

While every truck may not have the Duke Energy logo, Danenhower saidDuke Energy officials will be on the ground working to bring the lights back on. Representatives from all over the United States are waiting at The Villages and ready to get to work.

Send us your voice memo

Posted September 28, 2022 at 4:23 PM EDT

Hurricane Ian made landfall on Wednesday afternoon, and reports on social media are showing powerful winds and flooded streets in southwest Florida.

Those conditions are expected to persist as the Category 4 storm makes its way northeast through the state.

Hundreds of thousands of people were without power, and Ian is forecast to cause catastrophic damage.

We want to know what you’re seeing and experiencing. Are you seeing flooding, downed power lines, or debris? You can send us a voice memo and share your story through our mobile app.

We have instructions here.

Ian makes landfall

Posted September 28, 2022 at 3:48 PM EDT
This satellite image shows Hurricane Ian as it bears downon the Southwest Florida coast near Fort Myers on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022. The storm has rapidly intensified off Florida, gaining top winds of 155 mph, just shy of the most devastating Category 5 hurricane status.
National Hurricane Center
This satellite image shows Hurricane Ian as it bears downon the Southwest Florida coast near Fort Myers on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022. The storm has rapidly intensified off Florida, gaining top winds of 155 mph, just shy of the most devastating Category 5 hurricane status.

Hurricane Ian made landfall in southwestern Florida near Cayo Costa on Wednesday afternoon as a massive Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph.

Ian's most damaging winds began hitting Florida's southwest coast Wednesday, lashing the state with heavy rain and pushing a devastating storm surge after strengthening to the threshold of the most dangerous Category 5 status.

> Read more

Tampa Police warn: Don't gawk on Bayshore

Posted September 28, 2022 at 3:45 PM EDT

Now is not a time for sightseeing, Tampa Police say.

The department sent a release and videos warning residents that their vehicles will be ticketed or towed if they park along Bayshore Boulevard to walk into the bay due to low tide pushing out the water.

Police say residents should stay inside until conditions from Hurricane Ian improve.

Video: Bradenton conditions deteriorate

Posted September 28, 2022 at 2:21 PM EDT

Bradenton police tweet out a video from just after 1 p.m. Wednesday.

SFWMD made adjustments to help mitigate rainfall from Ian

Posted September 28, 2022 at 2:17 PM EDT
South Florida Water Management District Executive Director Drew Bartlett provides an update on the SFWMD's response to Hurricane Ian on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022.
SFWMD
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Twitter
South Florida Water Management District Executive Director Drew Bartlett provides an update on the SFWMD's response to Hurricane Ian on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022.

In preparation for Hurricane Ian, water managers from South Florida Water Management District made pre-storm adjustments to operating levels for water control structures throughout the regional flood control system.

That information and more was part of an update Wednesday from agency Executive Director Drew Bartlett on the District’s continued response to Hurricane Ian.

Bartlett, speaking from the SFWMD’s Emergency Operations Center, said the district continues to operate the regional flood control system to move large amounts of water quickly and efficiently.

"Hurricane Ian is one of the most powerful hurricanes to ever impact Florida, and the storm is expected to continue to bring significant rainfall, storm surge, strong winds and tornadoes to the region," he said. "Rainfall from the storm is expected to result in a significant and rapid rise in canals, lakes, ponds and rivers throughout the District."

Bartlett said South Florida's interconnected water management system and flood control in South Florida is a shared responsibility between the SFWMD, county and city governments, local drainage districts, homeowners associations and residents.

"It is normal to see lakes temporarily rise and water flowing through streets to drains. After significant rainfall, water in streets, swales, yards and low-lying areas is expected," he said.

Bartlett said residents who experience an increasing amount of water that is impacting their property should report the flooding to their local drainage district. To find out which entity is responsible for your local drainage system, visit SFWMD.gov/StormUpdate.

Gov. DeSantis update on Hurricane Ian

Posted September 28, 2022 at 1:43 PM EDT

Emergency vehicles are no longer responding to calls in Sarasota County

Posted September 28, 2022 at 1:28 PM EDT

Storm surge in Naples

Posted September 28, 2022 at 1:20 PM EDT

This image from the City of Naples' Facebook page shows the devastating storm surge from Ian on Wednesday morning.

Tampa mayor tells residents to remain vigilant, it's the 'calm before the storm'

Posted September 28, 2022 at 1:10 PM EDT
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor (center) and police Chief Mary O'Conner give an update on Hurricane Ian on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022. Castor warned of downed trees, flooding and power outages -- and told people if they haven't evacuated by now, they should stay where they are. O’Connor said the city is enhancing penalties for those charged with property crimes during the storm.
City of Tampa
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Twitter
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor (center) and police Chief Mary O'Conner give an update on Hurricane Ian on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022. Castor warned of downed trees, flooding and power outages -- and told people if they haven't evacuated by now, they should stay where they are. O’Connor said the city is enhancing penalties for those charged with property crimes during the storm.

At a news conference Wednesday morning, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor asked people to remain vigilant, saying, "we're not out of the woods yet."

“You know, it may be calm outside, we've seen the waters recede in Tampa Bay, some people are out taking the photographs along Bayshore (Boulevard). But that is the calm before the storm,” she said.

"We're still going to see, more than likely, unprecedented flooding in our area with 18 to 20 inches of rain water coming in later this evening. And we're also going to have tropical storm force winds and possibly Category 1 hurricane winds here in the Tampa Bay area."

Castor warned of downed trees, flooding and power outages -- and told people if they haven't evacuated by now, they should stay where they are.

Tampa Police Chief Mary O’Connor told people they shouldn’t drive through flooded streets, saying that most vehicles will be flooded by a little of 6 inches of standing water.

O’Connor also said the city is enhancing penalties for those charged with property crimes during the storm, pointing to two people arrested Tuesday night outside the IKEA furniture store on Adamo Drive at North 22nd Street.

“They had numerous burglary tools in their possession, walkie-talkies, flashlights, it appeared they were definitely planning on doing something at the IKEA,” she said. “They were charged accordingly.”

Ian's eye pushing across Florida coast

Posted September 28, 2022 at 12:35 PM EDT

Extreme wind warning

Posted September 28, 2022 at 12:26 PM EDT

As the eye of Ian comes ashore around Sanibel and Captiva, an extreme wind warning runs from Lee to Sarasota counties.

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If you live along the Myakkahatchee Creek

Posted September 28, 2022 at 12:02 PM EDT

Old Tampa Bay waters churning

Posted September 28, 2022 at 11:43 AM EDT

'The worst is not yet here.' Hillsborough, Pinellas officials warn residents to stay sheltered

Posted September 28, 2022 at 11:41 AM EDT

Although Hurricane Ian has taken a turn to the east away from Tampa Bay, emergency management officials in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties are warning residents to continue safety precautions.

The “worst is not yet here,” Pinellas officials said in an email Wednesday morning. “Our area could experience wind speeds up to 110 miles per hour, storm surge and heavy rain through Thursday morning.

Dangers remain until Ian has passed through the state.

“As the storm moves slowly across Florida, conditions in the Tampa Bay area are expected to worsen throughout the day, even if the storm remains to the south, Pinellas officials said.

Flash flooding and strengthening winds have combined to create hazards making it no longer safe to be on the road, Hillsborough officials said in an email Wednesday morning.

Residents are also urged to continue sheltering. Do not attempt to relocate to a county emergency shelter or any other location.

“Breaks in the weather do not mean the storm has passed,” Pinellas officials said.

Emergency officials will announce when shelter in place and evacuation orders are lifted.

Officials included these reminders:

  • If you do experience an emergency, call 911 and report the issue. Emergency crews will respond as soon as it is safe to do so.
  • If there is a need to take cover, find an interior room away from windows and skylights. Bring water into your safe room in case you cannot exit due to storm debris.
  • If flooding is a threat, turn off electricity at the main breaker.
  • Keep cellphones and electronic devices charged in case of power loss. Checking in with family through texting or social media can be more reliable than phone service.
  • In case of electricity loss, flashlights or chemical sticks are safer to use than candles.
  • Keep storm shutters and windows closed until the storm has completely passed.
  • Once storm conditions subside, do not leave your home until officials announce that it is safe.
  • Emergency responders, equipment, and partner agencies are in place and ready to respond.

Send us your voice-memo

Posted September 28, 2022 at 11:28 AM EDT

Are you seeing any impacts from Hurricane Ian? What are the weather conditions, and are you starting to see damage?

Send us your voice memo both during and after the storm, and we may include your story in an upcoming newscast.

> How to send your memo

Landfall expected by mid- to late afternoon today

Posted September 28, 2022 at 11:09 AM EDT

(Required)

The water's receding ...

Posted September 28, 2022 at 10:16 AM EDT

More than 14,000 without power

Posted September 28, 2022 at 7:59 AM EDT

Last updated on Wednesday, at 8:41 a.m.

Almost 14,000 people are without power in the counties that are most affected by Hurricane Ian this morning. That includes about 13,000 outages in Sarasota, 540 in Manatee, 130 in DeSoto and 84 in Polk counties.

Florida Power & Light provides service to these counties: Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto, Hardee and Highlands. Residents can monitor real-time power outages here.

Polk County is serviced largely by Lakeland Electric, from Polk City to Highland city. Residents can monitor power outageshere.

To assist households and emergency personnel experiencing power outages throughout Central, North and Southwest Florida and the Panhandle, Comcast's network is offering roughly 90,000 public Xfinity hotspots. Hostpots are free and available to non-Xfinity customers. Register here: https://www.xfinity.com/response.

Sunshine Skyway is closed

Posted September 28, 2022 at 7:50 AM EDT

The Sunshine Skyway is closed, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

5 a.m. video update from FPREN

Posted September 28, 2022 at 6:06 AM EDT

FPL president expects slow recovery

Posted September 28, 2022 at 4:46 AM EDT

The electric utilities that provide service to the greater Tampa Bay region have crews ready to address anticipated power outages as Hurricane Ian takes aim at Florida. But restoration could be delayed by the storm's slow crawl across the state.

That was the warning Tuesday from Florida Power and Light President and CEO Eric Silagy.

While his company has about 16,000 employees deployed at 24 different locations around the state, Silagy says outages are inevitable.

"There is no such thing as a hurricane proof electrical grid. There will be damage to the grid," Silagy said. "If a large oak tree falls over, it will take out a concrete pole just as much as it will take out a wood pole, it may actually rip up underground lines as well."

Ian expected to cause life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic winds and flooding

Posted September 27, 2022 at 11:57 PM EDT
Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

The National Hurricane Center's 11 p.m. update Tuesday showed Hurricane Ian about 110 miles southwest of Naples, FL.

Ian is moving toward the north-northeast near 10 mph. This general motion with a reduction in forward speed is forecast tonight and Wednesday, followed by a turn toward the north on Thursday.
On the forecast track, the center of Ian is expected to pass west of the Florida Keys within the next few hours, and approach the west coast of Florida on Wednesday.

A hurricane warning remains in effect for Chokoloskee, just south of Everglades City, to Aclote River, including Tampa Bay.

> Read more

Hillsborough County opens new shelter, closes another at capacity

Posted September 27, 2022 at 11:23 PM EDT

Hillsborough County has opened a new special-needs shelter at the Yuengling Center, located at 12499 USF Bull Run Drive, Tampa, FL 33617, on the University of South Florida campus.

This shelter accepts pets for those with special needs. Residents seeking a shelter are encouraged to make arrangements as soon as possible.

Erwin Technical College, a special-needs shelter located at 2010 E. Hillsborough Ave., Tampa, is at capacity and is now closed.

> Read more

NHC 11 p.m. update

Posted September 27, 2022 at 11:12 PM EDT

GoPasco to suspend service Wednesday morning, including to shelters

Posted September 27, 2022 at 9:19 PM EDT

NHC 8 p.m. update

Posted September 27, 2022 at 8:58 PM EDT

List of suspended road tolls is expanded

Posted September 27, 2022 at 7:46 PM EDT

Westbound lanes of Sarasota bridges closed to non-residents

Posted September 27, 2022 at 7:06 PM EDT

Sarasota Police announced that all westbound lanes on Siesta Bridge and the John Ringling Causeway Bridge will be closed to everyone except for barrier island residents attempting to access their homes.

Both bridges will be closed to all vehicles at 8 p.m.

Water will be shut off to all barrier islands in Sarasota and Manatee counties this evening, including Siesta Key, Casey Key, Lido Key, Longboat Key, Anna Maria Island and more.

Manatee County officials urge residents to evacuate, as some defy orders

Posted September 27, 2022 at 5:38 PM EDT
Manatee County Administrator Dr. Scott Hopes pleaded with residents to heed evacuation protocols.
Manatee County EOC
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Facebook Live
Manatee County Administrator Dr. Scott Hopes pleaded with residents to heed evacuation protocols.

Manatee County officials pleaded with residents to follow evacuation orders during a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

National Hurricane Center projections have Hurricane Ian, now a Category 3 storm, making landfall near Venice Beach by Wednesday evening — with outer bands of strong winds and rain arriving as soon as Tuesday night.

Manatee County administrator Scott Hopes said residents in coastal towns from Longboat Key to Anna Maria Island are defying the county's orders.

"If you're on the island — leave," he said. "Do us that one favor."

> Read more

Hurricane Ian strikes Cuba, Florida braces for winds, floods

Posted September 27, 2022 at 5:33 PM EDT
Hurricane Ian forecast track as of Sept. 27 at 8 p.m.
Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

Hurricane Ian tore into western Cuba as a major hurricane Tuesday and left 1 million people without electricity, then churned on a collision course with Florida over warm Gulf waters expected to strengthen it into a catastrophic Category 4 storm.

Ian made landfall in Cuba’s Pinar del Rio province, where officials set up 55 shelters, evacuated 50,000 people, rushed in emergency personnel and took steps to protect crops in the nation's main tobacco-growing region. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Cuba suffered “significant wind and storm surge impacts” when the hurricane struck with sustained top winds of 125 mph (205 kmh).

Ian was expected to get even stronger over the warm Gulf of Mexico, reaching top winds of 130 mph (209 kph) as it approaches the southwest coast of Florida, where 2.5 million people were ordered to evacuate.

> Read more

NHC 5 p.m. update

Posted September 27, 2022 at 5:11 PM EDT

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TECO may interrupt service in parts of downtown Tampa

Posted September 27, 2022 at 3:57 PM EDT

Tampa Electric says it could interrupt power to some areas of downtown Tampa — and other nearby residential communities — ahead of Hurricane Ian's arrival on the west coast.

In a message on its website, TECO says the interruptions could start on Tuesday in order to avoid "serious damage" to the company's underground equipment in the event of storm surge.

The affected area is currently under a mandatory evacuation order and includes several downtown buildings, including the Straz Center for the Performing Arts and City Hall Annex.

TECO also said it would consider on Wednesday a larger interruption that would impact residents on Harbour Islands, Davis Islands, and two Channelside hotels.

Tampa General Hospital, on Davis Islands, would not be affected, officials said.

2 p.m. update from the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

Posted September 27, 2022 at 3:36 PM EDT

Sarasota bridges closing Tuesday at 3 p.m.

Posted September 27, 2022 at 1:26 PM EDT

Evacuation orders in Sarasota County have expanded and now include Zones A and B along with mobile homes.

Bridges in the city of Sarasota will start closing at 3 while county officials say their bridges will remain open until winds reach sustained speeds of 35 mph.

Water service to Siesta Key will cut off this evening at 5 and to barrier islands within the city at 7.

Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to urge residents in the greater Tampa Bay region to evacuate if necessary and prepare their homes and families for Hurricane Ian.

The storm's projected track has shifted to make landfall in the Sarasota County area rather than directly hit Tampa.

But DeSantis says that doesn't mean people will be spared from dangerous storm surge, flooding, high winds and power outages.

Just because the eye is no longer on Tampa Bay, one little wobble can change that," DeSantis said. "And I think you're absolutely gonna see major impacts on the Tampa Bay region regardless of whether the track continues to go south or not."

Seeking emergency hurricane shelter in the greater Tampa Bay region? Use this guide

Posted September 27, 2022 at 12:41 PM EDT

Counties in the greater Tampa Bay region ordered mandatory and voluntary evacuations beginning Monday and opened emergency hurricane shelters ahead of Hurricane Ian's projected landfall.

Residents in an evacuation zone should first seek shelter with family, friends or coworkers at least 20 miles inland, officials say. As a last resort, residents can also seek emergency shelter. Use this Google Map guide to find an evacuation shelter in the greater Tampa Bay region.

USF football game moved to Boca Raton

Posted September 27, 2022 at 12:08 PM EDT

The American Athletic Conference and USF Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly announced that the University of South Florida's football game against East Carolina, scheduled for Saturday at 7 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium, has been moved to Boca Raton due to the anticipated impacts of Hurricane Ian. The Bulls and Pirates will play at FAU Stadium on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

Should I stay or should I go? Tampa residents weigh their options as Hurricane Ian approaches

Posted September 27, 2022 at 11:52 AM EDT

Tampa area residents are bracing for Hurricane Ian as it makes its way toward the state, with forecasters expecting it to first make landfall in Cuba.

Hundreds of thousands of residents living in coastal areas are under mandatory evacuation orders, with county officials recommending others in low-lying areas leave their homes as well.

On Monday morning, people waited for hours to fill sandbags at a city-run site in south Tampa, a community where streets can turn into rivers after just a few hours of rain. If Ian pushes more water in from the coast, it could cause serious damage.

> Read more

The Tampa Bay area should take caution even as Hurricane Ian's track shifts south

Posted September 27, 2022 at 11:50 AM EDT
Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie
Susan Giles Wantuck
Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie

Florida emergency officials warned that the greater Tampa Bay region should still remain on alert, even after Hurricane Ian appears to be making landfall to the south.

Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie said Tuesday morning that Hurricane Ian was on a track to hit Venice in southern Sarasota County on Wednesday night around 6 p.m.

"It's very important to say, that Tampa Bay region, you are not out of the woods yet," Guthrie said. "There is still going to be a storm surge event in the Tampa Bay region — we are waiting on that data to come in to see what those actual numbers are going to be.

> Read more

Ian appears to be shifting south

Posted September 27, 2022 at 11:21 AM EDT

Long lines for Tampa sandbags

Posted September 27, 2022 at 11:20 AM EDT

UPDATE: Sandbag locations in Tampa and Hillsborough County are closing Tuesday at 2 p.m.

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Mandatory evacuations underway in Hernando

Posted September 27, 2022 at 11:19 AM EDT

Mandatory evacuations in Hernando County went into effect Tuesday morning impacting more than 2,000 residents west of US 19.

"That's mainly because of the surge potential in those areas and the water that's going to be coming up to the ground level homes, and then also the river overtopping its peaks there, and then also the roadways are going to be overcome with water there,” said Jeff Rogers, county administrator.

“Those roadways will be inaccessible to people that live out there in these coastal areas — would not be accessible 'til that water recedes. So that could be 24 hours, 36 hours or something after the storm event.”

Rogers said Hernando is expecting a threat of between 8-10 feet of storm surge.

The county is home to Weeki Wachee and Withlacoochee rivers. Rogers expects the rivers to exceed boundaries and overtop banks.

Residents who may not live in the mandatory evacuation zone, but who do live in low lying areas and mobile home parks are asked to evacuate, as well.

Here are the public shelters available in Hernando:

  • Challenger K-8 – Special Needs: 13400 Elgin Blvd., Spring Hill
  • The Mining Association Enrichment Center – General Population and Pet Friendly: 800 John Gary Grubbs Blvd., Brooksville
  • Explorer K-8 - General Population and Pet Friendly: 10252 Northcliffe Blvd., Spring Hill, FL 34608

Click here for more Hernando County emergency information

Ian video update

Posted September 27, 2022 at 10:41 AM EDT

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Manatee expands evacuations

Posted September 27, 2022 at 10:24 AM EDT

With the latest forecasts of Hurricane Ian showing what will be a significant impact along the Manatee County coastline, Emergency Management officials have expanded the mandatory evacuation order to include both Level A and Level B. Additionally, residents living in evacuation Level C are encouraged to find shelter further inland.

“This is worst-case scenario,” Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes said in a news release. “Those along the coast and prone to flooding need to take this seriously and evacuate.”

Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT) will suspend all fixed routes as of 6 p.m.

Airports closing on Tuesday

Posted September 27, 2022 at 6:45 AM EDT

Tampa International Airport and St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport will suspend all operations beginning Tuesday.

Tampa International will suspend operations at 5 p.m. This will allow the airport to prepare the airfield and terminals, including the securing of jet bridges, ground equipment, and any remaining aircraft.

The airport, including the main terminal, airsides, and parking garages will be closed to all visitors at that time. Passengers should check with their airlines for flight status updates. Those flying on Tuesday before the airport suspends operations are urged to arrive at TPA at least 2 hours before their flight.

St. Petersburg-Clearwater will close at 1 p.m. due to mandatory evacuation orders in Pinellas County, and will remain closed until the evacuation order is lifted.

An interactive map shows how storm surge could impact your area

Posted September 27, 2022 at 6:35 AM EDT

Dangerous winds and torrential downpours will not be the only concerns as Hurricane Ian continues to intensify on a track into the Gulf of Mexico and toward Florida.

To help prepare residents for what they can expect, the National Hurricane Center has an interactive map that shows the impact storm surge can have along Florida's coast, as well as along the Eastern seaboard and in the Gulf of Mexico to Texas.

> Read more

NHC 5 a.m. advisory

Posted September 27, 2022 at 5:18 AM EDT

Jane Castor on flooding, wind damage and power outages

Posted September 27, 2022 at 5:16 AM EDT

With evacuation orders in effect for Hillsborough County, residents in especially flood-prone portions of Tampa, particularly those along the bay, are being encouraged to evacuate now.

Speaking on NPR's All Things Considered Monday, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said she's worried that Hurricane Ian could stall out and drop heavy rain over the Tampa Bay area for an extended period of time.

But even more than the wind and rain, it's the possible storm surge of up to ten feet in places where people live that really concerns the mayor.

"That is really going to be disastrous for our area, so we're trying to get everyone out of those locations, saying that we can always replace property, but we can't bring anyone back to life."

> Read more

Ian expected to become a major hurricane overnight or early Tuesday

Posted September 26, 2022 at 11:42 PM EDT
Florida Public Radio Network

In the eastern Caribbean Sea, Ian strengthened into a hurricane with winds up to 75 miles an hour early on Monday morning.

The category two storm is expected to undergo rapid intensification over the next few days, and it could become a major hurricane overnight Monday or early Tuesday.

The National Hurricane Center at 11 p.m. Monday reported the center of Ian is expected to move near or over western Cuba overnight and early Tuesday. Ian will then emerge over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, pass west of the Florida Keys late Tuesday, and approach the west coast of Florida on Wednesday into Thursday.

> Read more

NHC 11 p.m. update

Posted September 26, 2022 at 11:02 PM EDT

Utility companies gear up for Ian power outages

Posted September 26, 2022 at 10:31 PM EDT
A power tower
pxhere.com

Florida’s two largest electric utilities have some 22,000 workers ready to address anticipated power outages as massive Hurricane Ian takes aim at the state.

Workers for smaller utilities also are on standby, as winds, rain and flooding are expected to start Tuesday in the Florida Keys and then quickly move up the Gulf Coast.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday that the storm, which could make landfall Thursday, will knock out power in parts of the state.

“That’s something that people should expect,” DeSantis said while at the Pinellas County Emergency Operations Center in Largo. “And depending on the severity of the storm, you know, those power outages can be lengthy and may not just be one day where you're out of power.”

> Read more

Tampa International Airport will suspend all operations on Tuesday, Sep. 27 at 5 p.m.

Posted September 26, 2022 at 10:12 PM EDT

Access to the barrier islands will be restricted starting Tuesday at 7 a.m.

Posted September 26, 2022 at 10:00 PM EDT

Flooding, wind damage and power outages are among Tampa Mayor's hurricane concerns

Posted September 26, 2022 at 8:45 PM EDT

With evacuation orders in effect for Hillsborough County, residents in especially flood-prone portions of Tampa, particularly those along the bay, are being encouraged to evacuate now.

Speaking on NPR's All Things Considered Monday, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said she's worried that Hurricane Ian could stall out and drop heavy rain over the Tampa Bay area for an extended period of time.

But even more than the wind and rain, it's the possible storm surge of up to ten feet in places where people live that really concerns the mayor.

> Read more

NHC 8 p.m. update

Posted September 26, 2022 at 8:01 PM EDT

Should I stay or should I go? Tampa residents weigh their options as Hurricane Ian approaches

Posted September 26, 2022 at 7:48 PM EDT
Man and woman stand with shovels in a line of people at a sandbag filling station.
Stephanie Colombini
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WUSF Public Media
Gary Genao and Lara Stack waited in line for hours to fill sandbags at a city-run site in South Tampa. Genao said he plans to hunker down at home, while Stack said she will evacuate inland and stay with family.

Tampa-area residents are bracing for Hurricane Ian as it makes its way toward the state, with forecasters expecting it to first make landfall in Cuba.

Hundreds of thousands of residents living in coastal areas are under mandatory evacuation orders, with county officials recommending others in low-lying areas leave their homes as well.

On Monday morning people waited for hours to fill sandbags at a city-run site in South Tampa, a community where streets can turn into rivers after just a few hours of rain. If Ian pushes more water in from the coast it could cause serious damage.

> Read more

6:30 p.m. evacuation updates

Posted September 26, 2022 at 6:27 PM EDT

(As of 6:30 Monday evening):

Hillsborough County:

Hillsborough County issued a mandatory evacuation for Evacuation Zone A as well as those in mobile and manufactured homes and residents in low-lying areas prone to flooding starting at 2 p.m. Monday, Sept. 26.

Pinellas County

Effective 6 p.m. Monday all residents in Evacuation Zone A (including all mobile home residents) will be under mandatory evacuation orders. Mandatory orders for evacuation zones B and C will be effective Tuesday morning at 7 a.m. All residential healthcare facilities will be under mandatory evacuation orders starting Monday as well.

Pasco County

Late Monday, officials announced mandatory and voluntary evacuationsfor residents in Zones A, B and C.

Mandatory evacuations, for Zone A, include primarily low-lying and coastal areas. Those in Zone B and Zone C are encouraged to evacuate if they are registered as a special needs resident with Pasco County or if they "would be vulnerable in the event of a power loss."

Hernando county

Voluntary evacuations have been issued for all areas west of US 19, which includes evacuation zones A, B, and C. All residents living in coastal and low-lying areas, as well as manufactured homes county wide, are included.

Polk County

Polk County has declared a state of local emergency, but no evacuation orders have been issued.

Sarasota County

While there are no evacuations issued at this time, the county is expecting to announce evacuation alert for Level A in effect for Tuesday morning.

Manatee County

Effective at 8 a.m., Tuesday, September 27, officials are announcing plans for evacuations, beginning with a MANDATORY Zone A evacuation and VOLUNTARY Zone B evacuation.

Storm surge update

Posted September 26, 2022 at 6:09 PM EDT

NHC 5 p.m. advisory

Posted September 26, 2022 at 5:30 PM EDT

Map shows hurricane impacts on storm surge

Posted September 26, 2022 at 4:45 PM EDT
SumterCountyFL.gov

Dangerous winds and torrential downpours will not be the only concerns as Hurricane Ian continues to intensify on a track into the Gulf of Mexico and toward Florida.

To help prepare residents for what they can expect, the National Hurricane Center has an interactive map that shows the impact storm surge can have along Florida's coast, as well as along the Eastern seaboard and in the Gulf of Mexico to Texas.

> Read more

This app will show whether gas is available across Tampa Bay as Hurricane Ian approaches

Posted September 26, 2022 at 4:17 PM EDT

Gas Buddy is an app known for helping people find cheaper gas. But with Hurricane Ian heading toward Florida, gas may be harder to find.

A search on the app on Monday morning found at least a dozen gas stations in Pinellas County with limited fuel options.

Gas Buddy has activated it fuel availability tracker in Florida and other states ahead of the storm. It will show whether a gas station has gas, fuel and diesel. and if it has power.

It also allows users to search by current location or by a zip code to find gas.

> Read more

DeSantis urges Floridians to use caution

Posted September 26, 2022 at 4:12 PM EDT
Sign limiting water purchases at a Publix in Safety Harbor
Carl Lisciandrello
/
WUSF Public Media
Water purchases are limited at a Publix in Safety Harbor as residents prepare for Hurricane Ian on Sept. 25, 2022.

Gov. Ron DeSantis urged Floridians to be aware of local evacuation orders as Hurricane Ian is expected to strengthen into a “major” storm in the eastern Gulf of Mexico as early as Tuesday.

DeSantis said during a media briefing just before noon Monday that Ian will bring heavy rain, strong winds, flash flooding, storm surges and isolated tornadoes to Florida’s Gulf Coast.

“Floridians up and down the Gulf Coast should feel the impacts of this up to 36 hours before actual landfall, due to the size of the hurricane,” the governor said, adding that the storm was roughly 500 miles wide Monday as it churned south of Cuba.

DeSantis, who over the weekend declared a state of emergency for all of Florida, said the storm’s track indicated an expected landfall around Levy County, southwest of Gainesville. The track, however, remained uncertain, and DeSantis said it could “absolutely wobble further into the peninsula” or away from the state.

> Read more

NHC 2 p.m. advisory

Posted September 26, 2022 at 2:08 PM EDT

DeSantis suspends tolls

Posted September 26, 2022 at 2:07 PM EDT

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced he is suspending tolls across the state effective noon on Monday to help family quickly evacuate in preparation of Hurricane Ian.

The roads in the greater Tampa Bay region where tolls were suspended:

  • Polk Parkway in Polk County
  • Suncoast Parkway in Pasco, Hernando, and Citrus County
  • Veterans Expressway in Pasco, Hernando, and Citrus County
  • I-4 Connector in Hillsborough County
  • Selmon Expressway in Hillsborough County
  • Pinellas Bayway in Pinellas County
  • Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Pinellas County

Straz events cancelled

Posted September 26, 2022 at 1:41 PM EDT

Performances at the Straz Center in Tampa will be postponed from Tuesday through Friday, including "Avenue Q," Opera Tampa's "Spanish Nights," and Jobsite Theater's "Picasso at the Lapin Agile." Ticketholders will be contacted by the center's ticket office about options for exchanges and refunds. Classes and activities at the Patel Conservatory have also been cancelled for the rest of the week and will reopen on Oct. 3.

Updates on other evacuations

Posted September 26, 2022 at 12:42 PM EDT

(as of Monday at 11:35 a.m.):

Pinellas County: No evacuations ordered at this time, one will likely be issued Tuesday. Mobile home residents, those who live in low-lying areas, and tourists should evacuate Monday, officials say.

Sarasota County: While there are no evacuations issued at this time, the county is expecting to announce evacuation alert for Level A in effect for Tuesday morning.

Hernando County: Voluntary evacuation for all residents west of U.S. 19 and all residents of mobile homes and in low-lying areas. On Tuesday those evacuations will become mandatory. Shelters will open at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Manatee County: Evacuations will begin with a mandatory Level A and voluntary Level B effective Tuesday at 8 a.m.

Hillsborough County orders evacuations

Posted September 26, 2022 at 12:21 PM EDT

Hillsborough County officials ordered mandatory evacuations for some residents on Monday morning, ahead of an intensifying Hurricane Ian. As of 5 a.m. Monday, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said that Ian had reached Category 1 hurricane status.

Effective at 2 p.m., residents living in Zone A are under mandatory hurricane evacuation orders and residents in Zone B are recommended to evacuate. Check your evacuation status here.

> Read more

VA clinics closing across the area

Posted September 26, 2022 at 8:37 AM EDT

The Bay Pines VA Healthcare System is closing locations across the area ahead of Hurricane Ian.

The C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center in Bay Pines will close Monday through Thursday, the North Pinellas and St. Petersburg VA clinics on Wednesday and Thursday, and the Sarasota and Bradenton clinics on Wednesday.

Veterans with medical emergencies should call 911 or go to the nearest open emergency room.

The latest advisories

Posted September 26, 2022 at 8:19 AM EDT

Floridians prepare, but don't panic, as Ian's storm track shifts

Posted September 26, 2022 at 7:16 AM EDT