The live updates for Friday night have concluded.
Hurricane Ian left Florida on Thursday with untold damage in its wake. Tampa Bay saw some damage to trees, signs and buildings, and power companies are still working to restore power to the half-million here who lost it. But so far, authorities said, no local lives were lost in the storm.
Farther south, the devastation is astonishing: Buildings razed, blocks leveled, boats tossed ashore, communities like Fort Myers Beach and Pine Island ravaged and at least 21 dead. Officials believe that toll will grow in the coming days as rescue workers sift through the wreckage. Here’s how to find help if you need it, including FEMA assistance, or donate aid and resources if you can.
After weakening to a tropical storm over the Florida peninsula, Ian regained strength in the Atlantic Ocean and to become a Category 1 hurricane bearing down on South Carolina, before being downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone later Friday.
Aaliyah Alvarado, 16, was headed to Orlando from her hurricane ravaged home in North Fort Myers Orlando when all traffic on northbound Interstate 75 came to a halt.
Authorities stopped all traffic around mile marker 182 Friday night. The Florida Department of Transportation said the Myakka River under I-75 had risen and affected the interstate, no longer making it safely passable for motorists. The highway was closed in both directions from Jacaranda Boulevard to the north near Venice to Toledo Blade Boulevard.
Alvarado said her house in North Fort Myers was flooded with eight feet of water from Hurricane Ian. She said the 10 members of her family fled to Naples, and they have been trying to make the best of the situation. So they decided to go to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios in Orlando on Friday night, only to get stuck on I-75 in Sarasota County.
“The thing that matters is we’re all alive. We’re all safe,” said Alvarado. “Everything is gone. Everything is f—ked up.”
Along the road, stranded drivers made calls. Some were out of gas. Some were an exit or two away from home.
Neighborhoods under feet of water. Islands stripped bare of trees. The bones of former marinas emptied of their boats.
These are the devastating scenes coming to light as emergency response crews document before-and-after aerial images of the Southwest Florida coast.
The National Ocean Service started photographing Hurricane Ian’s destructive aftermath from above on Thursday, just 24 hours after the storm made landfall as one of the most powerful to ever strike the Florida peninsula.
- Max Chesnes
ARCADIA — All roads leading into Arcadia seem to be flooded out, but not by the Peace River. This is because of a combination of stormwater runoff into shallow, overgrown country ditches and flooding from the nearby Myakka River. All of the orange groves that line the roads in and around Arcadia are now bending in unison to the right or left, mapping the trail Hurricane Ian blazed through the inland farming community.
Train tracks along the road have been picked up by the storm, twisted and turned, and in many cases, pulled up from the ground. By Friday afternoon, the only person who had managed to drive through the strong currents blocking County Road 661 was Lenny Lempenau. He owns the Peace River Campground and has been shuttling supplies to rescue workers in his green, military-issued Hummer.
Lempenau said he doesn’t know of many people who are still trapped in their homes. He said it seemed like the flooding here was much more gradual than at the coastline, giving people time to gather belongings and get out when stormwater began pooling around their doors.
Most of Friday’s focus was on those who decided to stay in their homes along the riverbank. Those houses are used to flooding and are built up on stilts to accommodate the kind of flooding that becomes an annual occurrence with Florida’s weather.
Rescue efforts in Arcadia quickly became a complicated affair requiring first responders and residents to work hand in hand, navigating both the flooded-out access roads and the overlapping response to reach those in need as quickly as possible.
By 2:45 p.m., the Peace River had exceeded all flood projections from the National Weather Service by at least one foot. The water level in the river was 23.9 feet and rising, with the flood stage at 11 feet. The historic high for the river was a crest of 10.55 feet in 1912.
— Anastasia Dawson
NAPLES — On Friday afternoon, a drive from Tampa to Naples took four hours in the bloated traffic, as many evacuated residents of southwest Florida returned to survey the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.
Outside Port Charlotte, peope parked their cars on the highway and clambered into kayaks, using the shoulder’s flood waters to assess the damage of their flooded homes.
Sopping mattresses, rugs, garbage bags — and in some instances, entire living rooms — lay discarded at the ends of mansion driveways on Creighton Road in downtown Naples. Sons helped older fathers throw away years of possessions. Friends helped clean out condos on Gulfshore Boulevard, where water from the beach and bay rose up to second-floor balconies.
First floor doors hung open at the Bordeaux Club condo, possessions abandoned on sandy floors. The ajar elevator was host to a sea of palm fronds.
”It’s like a bomb went off,” said Steve Maichioni, 59, as he cleared out his friend’s debris-caked minivan, removing moldy clothes, golf clubs and waterlogged books. “All of the cars in the parking lot were totaled. It was fine until the very last hour of the hurricane — that’s when the storm surge happened.”
— Hannah Critchfield
Hillsborough County is again urging residents to conserve water if they are in an area without power.
The county warned that neighborhood pump stations without electrical service can overflow from the water coming from the drains in area homes. It presents potential public health and environmental concerns, according to a news release from Hillsborough County.
To limit water use, the county suggested shortening showers, filling bathtubs only half full, checking for faulty toilet flappers/stop valves and turning off the tap when brushing your teeth. In the kitchen, people should avoid pre-rinsing dishes and only turn on a dishwasher when it is full. The same advice applies for the laundry room — only run the washing machine when it has a full load. Outdoors, people should water their lawns and landscape only when needed and follow water use restrictions.
— CT Bowen
Floridians grappling with this catastrophe may need trauma counseling and emotional support. Stress, anxiety and depression-like symptoms are common after disasters.
Those who are contemplating suicide or in a mental health crisis can call or text 988, which is the national suicide prevention lifeline. They can also use an online chat tool to reach the lifeline: 988lifeline.org/chat.
U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration runs a free 24/7 mental health hotline that people can call for help. Call or text 1-800-985-5990. Third-party interpretation services are available for more than 100 other languages.
The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay is offering confidential support for first responders and their families. Those in need can call 1-866-435-4376 (1-866-4FL-HERO).
— Sam Ogozalek
Families in east Tampa Bay are recovering from Hurricane Ian and it is not an easy task.
That’s why three local groups — Humana, Dr. Traci’s House and Rebuilt Meals — decided to join forces to help families in need. The coalition will distribute hundreds of healthy and prepackaged individual meals to households on a first-come, first-served basis. Meals will include traditional, balanced, keto and plant-based food items.
The event will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Dr. Traci’s House, 904 E. Henry Ave.
— Juan Carlos Chavez
More organizations are joining hurricane relief efforts.
A coalition of grassroots organizations has launched the IanResponse.org fund to address urgent needs of impacted communities and provide aid throughout the state to quickly address shortfalls.
PayPal’s Hurricane Ian Relief Campaign is raising funds for charities that are providing resources and assistance to affected areas, including American Red Cross, Direct Relief, Save The Children AmeriCares Foundation, GlobalGiving Foundation and World Central Kitchen.
A Centralized Hub housing all verified fundraisers related to Hurricane Ian and its subsequent storms has been established on GoFundMe. The hub will be constantly updated as fundraisers are created and verified.
— Sharon Kennedy Wynne and Kelly A. Stefani
Hurricane Ian made landfall in South Carolina at about 2 p.m. Friday after the storm spent two days ravaging the state of Florida.
The Category 1 storm landed near Georgetown, South Carolina, with maximum sustained winds at 85 mph. The storm is expected to turn toward the north-northwest by tonight. Forecasters said Ian is going to move across eastern South Carolina and central North Carolina tonight and Saturday.
The storm is moving much quicker than it had previously, at about 15 mph, as it passes over the Carolinas. Forecasters expect Ian to rapidly weaken into a post-tropical cyclone overnight and dissolve by late Saturday.
— Michaela Mulligan
After inspecting storm-battered Pine Island, which is home to both fishing villages and long-term residents, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday vowed to restore the destroyed bridge that has severed the island’s link to the mainland.
”Fixing the bridge? Yes, we will do that. We have to do that,’’ said DeSantis, after touring the Lee County island with FEMA Director Deanne Criswell. “I can’t tell you how long that will take. We’re gonna have to figure out the extent of the damage.”
Criswell urged people to “jump start their recovery” by registering for assistance at FEMA by going to disasterassistance.gov or download the FEMA app or call 1-800-621-3362.
Marceno and the governor added a warning to any “scam artists” attempting to “leverage people’s misfortune for their own benefit.”
Asked about whether they had enough time to warn people to evacuate in Lee County, DeSantis and Guthrie defended the decision.
— Mary Ellen Klas
Hillsborough County deputies freed a person trapped underneath a tree, Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister said at a news conference Thursday. On Friday, a sheriff’s office spokesperson offered additional details.
Deputies received a call for service just before 6 p.m. on Wednesday in the 5000 block of Peach Avenue in Seffner, where a man was trapped underneath a large tree that had fallen.
Deputies braved 48 mph winds while cutting through a tree with chainsaws to free the man and rush him to the hospital. The man had injuries to his lower body, but was expected to recover.
— Christopher Spata
Power has been restored to nearly half of the 500,000 Tampa Bay customers who lost it during Hurricane Ian.
As of 2 p.m., the number of customers without power was close to 250,000 on Friday afternoon in the Tampa Bay area.
Tampa Electric Co. reported that about 168,000 customers were without power across the company’s coverage area, which includes Hillsborough County. The outages were widespread across the county, though they were particularly acute in east Hillsborough, near Plant City, Brandon, Riverview, Ruskin and Sun City Center.
In Pinellas County, at least 80,000 remained without power Friday morning, according to Duke Energy’s online outage map. About another 600 Duke Energy customers in Pasco County also were without power.
The numbers have steadily declined since Thursday morning, when power restoration crews dispersed into communities to assess and repair the damage. Nearly half of the more than half-million customers who lost power during the storm had it restored by Friday afternoon.
— Dan Sullivan
The bridge to Fort Myers Beach remains under heavy regulation, Times photographer Douglas Clifford said.
Clifford also documented high water at the Palmetto Palms Mobile Home Park off Summerlin Road in Fort Myers.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said at least 700 rescues, mostly by air, were conducted on Thursday involving the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Guard and urban search-and-rescue teams.
“As of 6 a.m., there are about 1.9 million people, or customers, without power,” DeSantis said Friday.
Watch the governor give an update here:
More than 60 Amazon facilities are closed across the Southeastern U.S., mostly in Florida, spokesperson Kelly Nantel told the Tampa Bay Times on Friday.
Three facilities in the direct impact zone had severe water damage, but Nantel did not specify which locations. Some sites are still unreachable to asses damage, she said.
Employees for the e-commerce giant have started to go back to work in Tampa after mandates lifted, and customers can expect delivery delays as operations ramp up.
Meanwhile, further south, deliveries are paused indefinitely.
”In Fort Myers, we continue to be completely shut down and probably will be for a while,” Nantel said.
— Bernadette Berdychowski
Morton Plant North Bay in New Port Richey and Bardmoor Emergency Center in Largo have reopened, BayCare officials said Friday. Outpatient Rehabilitation Services in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas are also open.
Outpatient Wound Care Services at Bartow Regional Medical Center and Winter Haven Hospital in Polk County remain closed.
BayCare is continuing to offer one free telehealth visit for all registered users through Wednesday, Oct. 12. Visit the service via the BayCare Anywhere app with coupon code ‘IAN.’
— Christopher O’Donnell
The city of Tampa is providing an extra day of curbside garbage pick-up Saturday to make up for service missed earlier in the week.
The collections Saturday are for residents who typically receive service on Mondays and Thursdays. Only blue garbage carts will be collected Saturday and all garbage must be securely bagged and put inside the cart. Storm-related yard debris should be put curbside in bundles, piles or in a container for collection beginning Monday.
Residential curbside recycling is delayed until further notice, as is commercial garbage service in downtown Tampa.
— CT Bowen
The USF Bulls moved their Saturday home game against East Carolina to from Tampa to Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. Attendance for the game will be limited to 15,000, all general admission, because of staffing issues and concessions issues.
— Matt Baker
PORT CHARLOTTE — The line grew longer and longer in the empty lot off Tamiami Trail.
A man in a sweat-soaked bandana came out of the tiny trailer, held his hands out wide and yelled over the generator: Three racks of ribs left, four orders of brisket, but plenty of pulled pork.
“I’m doing my best, I’m only one person,” said Doug Alexander.
His food truck, Scooby’s BBQ & Grub Shack, pulled into the Port Charlotte lot two hours before sundown Thursday evening. He usually roves around Brooksville, Spring Hill, New Port Richey and Port Richey in Pasco and Hernando counties, but on Thursday, he packed up his blue pickup truck and trailer with a pizza oven in tow and drove 3 1/2 hours south.
Alexander enlisted young men in the line to hand out free bottles of water. Every break to sip some Sprite and drag on a Kool cigarette, he asked if there were any first responders. They got whatever they wanted for free: Barbeque, pizza, burgers.
“I wanted to help these people out,” Alexander said. “They don’t got s--t.”
— Colleen Wright
Two men were injured Thursday, one of them critically, in what officials suspect was an explosion involving a generator powering a Pinellas Park home.
A call came in about 11:20 p.m. reporting that a house was on fire on the 7900 block of 53rd Way N, said Suzanne Boisvert, emergency management coordinator for the city of Pinellas Park and a spokesperson for the fire department.
Fire crews arrived to find the single story home engulfed in flames and two injured men, both with burns, Boisvert said. The fire appeared to start in the home’s carport area. Both men were taken to local hospitals. The critically injured man was taken to Tampa General Hospital as a trauma alert.
The Florida State Fire Marshal is investigating to confirm the cause of the fire, but according to Boisvert, “from what we know, it does look like it originated from the generator.”
— Tony Marrero
The Lightning Foundation and Vinik Family Foundation are donating a combined $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts, the organization announced Friday.
Each will donate $1 million toward recovery from the storm, which devastated southwest Florida this week.
“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Lightning owner Jeff Vinik said in a statement. “In times like these, the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”
— Eduardo A. Encina
Election officials in Florida are discussing alternative means of voting for counties most affected by Hurricane Ian, with just a week before the deadline for mail ballots to be sent out and less than six weeks until Election Day.
Mark Earley, president of Florida Supervisors of Elections, said that while it was too early to know the full extent of damages, and no final decision has been made, there’s a chance several counties will have to delay their scheduled mail-out dates for domestic vote-by-mail ballots — potentially past the deadline imposed by Florida’s Constitution.
“There’s a possibility some counties may need some additional time,” said Earley, who is also Leon County’s Supervisor of Elections.
— Bianca Padró Ocasio, Miami Herald
Power outage numbers remained close to 300,000 Friday morning in the Tampa Bay area, two days after Hurricane Ian swept the area.
Tampa Electric Co. reported that 190,000 customers were without power as of 10 a.m. across the company’s coverage area, which includes Hillsborough County. The outages were widespread across the county, though they were particularly acute in east Hillsborough, near Plant City, Brandon, Riverview, Ruskin and Sun City Center.
In Pinellas County, at least 91,000 remained without power Friday morning, according to Duke Energy’s online outage map. About another 1,000 Duke Energy customers in Pasco County also were without power.
Statewide, about 1.9 million are still without power, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday morning.
— Dan Sullivan
After closing and canceling performances due to Hurricane Ian, the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts will reopen for business on Saturday.
“Avenue Q,” “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” and “Further Up & Further In” will return to the stage Saturday afternoon and evening, and the Southern Soul Music Festival will take places as scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Patel Conservatory will resume classes and activities on Monday.
The Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce announced Friday that proceeds from its upcoming Taste of the Beaches event will go to the Islands of Sanibel Captiva Chamber of Commerce, for “unrestricted support for their tourism industry and to help them rebuild their community.”
The annual event, which takes place at participating beach-area restaurants from Oct. 8-14, was going to raise money for Parc Center for Disabilities in St. Petersburg. Parc CEO Michelle Detweiler said in a statement that the organization “wholeheartedly supports” the shift of support.
“We feel blessed to be a part of the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber and are here to support this effort,” Detweiler said. “We will continue to do what we can to promote the Taste of the Beaches so that the maximum amount of funds can be used to help those in need.”
Taste of the Beaches kicks off Oct. 7 at Horan Park in St. Pete Beach.
The number of Floridians who are missing or in need of rescue remains unclear. But police and rescue crews have been going door to door checking on people who are visibly in need since early Thursday morning, state leaders said.
About 20,000 people have filled out a survey to notify state officials that they would be sheltering in place. Half of them have been contacted and been reported safe, Gov. Ron DeSantis said.
The other half has yet to be reached, Florida Emergency Management director Kevin Guthrie said. The fact that the state has been unable to reach them does not mean that they are missing, Guthrie explained. They could be missing, safe or unreachable due to not having access to a phone or power.
Hurricane Ian is long past Tampa Bay. But its weather effects will linger into the weekend.
As Ian moved away from the area, the storm pulled cooler and drier air over Tampa Bay, said Nicole Carlisle, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
The Tampa Bay area will see high temperatures Friday of about 80 degrees. At night, temperatures are expected to drop to the mid-60s, according to the National Weather Service in Tampa Bay.
“If you were out walking around or something, assessing damage or whatever, it felt actually quite nice out,” Carlisle said.
— Michaela Mulligan
Tampa International Airport is officially back open for business.
St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport opened at 9 a.m., spokesperson Michele Routh said.
“There are some flights that are being rescheduled to arrive tonight on Allegiant and then back to normal schedule tomorrow,” she said.
Florida Emergency Management director Kevin Guthrie said at least 21 deaths in Florida may be connected to Hurricane Ian.
One person was confirmed to have died as a direct result of the storm in Polk County, he said. Twelve deaths in Charlotte County and eight in Collier County are not yet confirmed to be storm-related.
Guthrie said rescue workers have identified other situations where there appear to be multiple casualties, including one home where water was over the rooftop, and a U.S. Coast Guard rescue swimmer discovered an unknown number of “human remains.”
Ian’s death count will rise and fluctuate as medical examiners determine causes of death.
“We just don’t know that number,” Guthrie said.
Some 1.9 million Florida customers are still without power, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday.
That includes 99% of customers in Hardee County, 85% in Charlotte and Lee, 80% in DeSoto, 50% in Sarasota, Manatee and Collier, and 15% to 18% in Hillsborough and Pinellas.
DeSantis said Florida’s recovery effort now includes 1,000 rescue workers up and down the coastline, with some going farther inland. About 1,300 workers with the Florida Department of Transportation have cleared 1,100 miles of roadway, he said. But bridges going into Sanibel and Pine Island, he said, will be “rebuild efforts.” The state will be running barges to bring equipment onto cut-off islands.
A food and water distribution center has been set up at the Tampa Bay Rays’ spring training facility, Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte. Another is at the Minnesota Twins’ facility, Lee County Sports Complex in Fort Myers.
The state has a website for families to report missing relatives: missing.fl.gov.
Winds from Hurricane Ian knocked an olive tree into a home in Shore Acres in St. Petersburg. Check out the video below.
Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Deanne Criswell tweeted this morning that she’ll be meeting with Gov. Ron DeSantis and touring Ian’s devastation in southwest Florida today.
FEMA has made disaster assistance available for people in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee and Sarasota counties, as well as those in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee and Lee. More information is available at disasterassistance.gov or by calling (800) 621-3362.
Hurricane Ian remains a Category 1 storm as it chugs north about 105 miles from Charleston, South Carolina, according to the National Hurricane Center’s 8 a.m. advisory.
A 2- to 4-foot storm surge warning remains in effect for parts of Florida, including the St. Johns River and everything north of the Flagler-Volusia county line.
Many of the colorful cottages, boutiques and restaurants that made the artsy little Lee County fishing village of Matlacha famous and fun are gone or battered now, swallowed by surge or broken by wind.
The U.S. Census puts the population of Matlacha, which consists of a cluster of funky pastel Key West-style buildings on either side of a two-lane road, at about 850 people.
Boats have been flung into yards, homes flung into water. Kayaks hang in mangroves like ornaments. Mud covers broken pottery and furniture.
And Thursday, just a day after Category 4 Hurricane Ian tore through Matlacha, a body floated in front of the ruins of one home. Stunned residents say others have been found.
— Joey Flechas and Matias J. Ocner, Miami Herald
As storm surge possibilities continue across Florida, the National Weather Service has issued flood warnings for the Manatee River in Manatee County, the Alafia River at Lithia in Hillsborough County and the Little Manatee River at Wimauma at U.S. 301 in Hillsborough County.
The National Weather Service says if you encounter a flooded road, do not drive through it. Most flood deaths occur in cars, the Weather Service said. Do not walk through flood waters, and be aware of any downed power lines in floods.
— Michaela Mulligan
Now that Hurricane Ian has passed, Florida’s schools are getting ready to restart instruction.
Some districts, such as Palm Beach County, planned to get back to classes even sooner, the Palm Beach Post reports. Broward and Miami-Dade county schools also were on track to reopen today, the Miami Herald reports. On the Treasure Coast, Indian River County schools prepared to reopen today, while Martin and St. Lucie counties had to hold off because of power outages, TC Palm reports.
Others, including Duval County, said they would wait until the weekend to determine when to bring students back, the Florida Times-Union reports.
— Jeffrey S. Solochek
The City of Tampa says all of its offices, including parks and recreation facilities and classes, will resume on Monday.
Hillsborough County parks and recreation, including boat ramps, will reopen Saturday.
It took only 36 hours from Ian to grow from a tropical storm to a Category 4 hurricane. It’s a dangerous phenomenon that climate change may make more common in future hurricane seasons.
“It’s too early to say exactly how climate change affected this one storm,” said Kieran Bhatia, a climate researcher at Princeton University who studies hurricanes. “But, on average, we’ve seen multiple studies that show the conditions in the North Atlantic basin are providing more opportunities for storms to intensify.”
There are three main factors that lead to rapid intensification: warm waters, stable atmospheric conditions, and high humidity in the middle layers of the atmosphere. All three will be exacerbated by climate change.
Rivers across Tampa Bay are seeing elevated water levels on Friday morning, with at least two reaching flood stage.
The Little Manatee River near U.S. 301 in Wimauma was in major flood stage, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, decreasing slightly but still gauging near 17.5 feet. The Alafia River near Lithia Pinecrest Road in Lithia was at 17.5 feet and rising.
Other sections of the Little Manatee and Alafia were at record highs, as were sections of the Cypress Creek tributary near Wesley Chapel and the East Lake outfall near Orient Road in Tampa. More than 20 other areas were above normal.
In Bonita Springs in Lee County on Thursday, the streets, sidewalks and lawns were buried under at least two feet of wet sand and covered in a lattice of downed power lines.
Many residents were home to watch their belongings float out toward the Gulf of Mexico. And if they weren’t, they had to get through a battalion of law enforcement checkpoints if they wanted to return Thursday.
Julie Walton had to fight back tears as she watched her grandchildren gather the little pieces of her home into a big pile in the front yard. She wasn’t crying for the stuff, she said.
“I can’t even think about what could have happened last night,” she said. “Our whole family, all of our grandkids, could have been washed away.”
— Anastasia Dawson
• • •
Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Ian coverage
TAMPA BAY CLOSURES: What to know about bridges, roads in Ian’s aftermath
WHEN THE STORM HAS PASSED: Now what? Safety tips for returning home.
POST-STORM QUESTIONS: After Hurricane Ian, how to get help with fallen trees, food, damaged shelter.
WEATHER EFFECTS: Hurricane Ian was supposed to slam Tampa Bay head on. What happened?
WHAT TO DO IF HURRICANE DAMAGES YOUR HOME: Stay calm, then call your insurance company.
MORE STORM COVERAGE: Get ready and stay informed at tampabay.com/hurricane.