September 29, 2022 Hurricane Ian updates

By Elizabeth Wolfe, Travis Caldwell, Kelly McCleary, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Maureen Chowdhury, Elise Hammond and Seán Federico O'Murchú, CNN

Updated 1:30 a.m. ET, September 30, 2022
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5:07 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

DeSantis says the focus on stabilizing and restoring infrastructure and power, but it will take time

From CNN's Maria Cartaya 

(FL Pool)
(FL Pool)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke about efforts to “stabilize and restore” infrastructure and power in affected communities, during a Thursday afternoon news conference from Charlotte County,  

“We were able to fly out here. The airport is operational,” said DeSantis. “We were happy to see the interstates flowing,” the governor added.  

DeSantis said he understands the rebuilding efforts are just beginning and that much more needed to be done.

The governor noted the utter devastation that hit some areas. 

A home burns on Sanibel Island on Thursday.
A home burns on Sanibel Island on Thursday. (Wilfredo Lee/AP)

“Sanibel is destruction,” he said, referring to the island off the coast of Fort Myers.  He described the impact, which washed away three sections of the Sanibel Causeway, as a "really Biblican storm surge.”  

“We’re committed to restoring the infrastructure as needed. That is not going to be an overnight task,” said DeSantis.  

Florida Power & Light has a key role in helping the state recover, the governor said.  

A section of the Sanibel Causeway was washed away.
A section of the Sanibel Causeway was washed away. (Steve Helber/AP)

“This is a 24/7 effort to stabilize and restore,” he added. 

DeSantis was joined by First Lady Casey DeSantis, President of Florida Power & Light Eric Silagy, Division of Emergency Management director Kevin Guthrie, and others.  

Silagy said FPL has about 20,000 crews across the state. 

“We have 1.2 million customers who are out of power, but we have been able to restore over 700,000 customers before the storm even left the state,” Silagy said.  

4:45 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

Orlando is dealing with historic flooding, officials say

From CNN’s Andy Rose

People paddle in a canoe near a submerged vehicle in Orlando, Florida on Thursday.
People paddle in a canoe near a submerged vehicle in Orlando, Florida on Thursday. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

As the remnants of Tropical Storm Ian pass, officials in Orlando are warning residents that flooding in parts of the city remains very serious.

“We are seeing historic levels of flooding. In some areas, we had 11 inches. In other areas we had 15,” said Orlando Fire Department Chief Charlie Salazar at a news briefing Thursday.

Standing water is still electrified in some areas, he warned.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said the flood waters may remain for some time. “Unfortunately the only way the water is going to go down is to recede naturally,” he said.

“I want to reiterate, don't go out unless you have to,” Dyer added.

4:32 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

More than 1,500 cell sites in Florida knocked offline by Hurricane Ian

From CNN’s Brian Fung

More than 1,500 cell sites across Florida have been knocked offline due to Hurricane Ian — representing nearly 11% statewide, according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  

The damage varies by county, with some areas such as Lee County, where Ian made landfall, is reporting a loss of service at more than 65% of cell sites, according to a daily FCC report assessing the hurricane's impact on communications services. 

Other Florida counties with half or more of their cell sites out of operation include Charlotte, Hardee, Hendry and Highlands. 

Loss of cell sites does not necessarily imply a loss of wireless service as network providers such as Verizon have readied mobile cell sites and generators to provide backup connectivity in response to the storm, the FCC said.

If communication is impacted, the National Weather Service said there are some things to keep in mind. This includes reaching out to people through text messages or email instead of making phone calls. These calls can cause the network to become congested.

Read more:

4:28 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

Recovery will take weeks if not months, Naples officials say

From CNN’s Amy Simonson

Recovery from the devastating effects of Hurricane Ian will take weeks, if not months, according to Naples city officials.

At a news conference Thursday, city manager Jay Boodheshwar said the damage is widespread.

City Property damage is coming in at an estimate of $20 million, he said. But the value of property damage has not yet been assessed, although a conservative estimate puts the total at $200 million or more. 

According to Fire Chief Pete DiMaria, who also spoke at the briefing, search and rescues are still being conducted and residents are urged not to call 911 unless it’s an emergency. 

A curfew that was put in place Wednesday is no longer in effect, but officials warned people to stay off the roads because many of them are still hazardous.

“Do not drive on these roads, and please refrain from wading in these waters. There are dangerous objects that cannot be seen from the surface, and we want to want to make sure that people don't turn this high water situation into recreational opportunities,” Boodheshwar said.

A boil water notice remains in effect, according to Boodheshwar, who said the water treatment facility is operating but there are pressure issues. Crews are continuing to search for breaks and leaks throughout the system. 

He is urging residents to use bottled water and boil water when cooking. 

4:12 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

Walt Disney World will reopen in phases starting Friday

From CNN’s Andy Rose

The Walt Disney Company says Disney World operations in Orlando will begin reopening on Friday as Tropical Storm Ian moves out of the area.

“While theme parks and many operating areas remain closed to guests today, we anticipate weather conditions to improve this evening,” the company said in a statement Thursday. “Walt Disney World Resort will resume theme park and Disney Springs operations in a phased approach starting on Friday, Sept. 30.”

Disney says exact hours of operation Friday will be updated later.

4:39 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

North Carolina governor urges residents to prepare for Tropical Storm Ian

From CNN’s Paradise Afshar 

(Gov. Cooper Office)
(Gov. Cooper Office)

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is urging people in his state to prepare for Tropical Storm Ian which is forecasted to impact the East Coast after leaving Florida.

“In recent hours Ian has reminded us of the dangerous unpredictability of these storms as its track continues to change,” Cooper said at a media conference Thursday afternoon.  

Cooper said North Carolina residents can expect to feel the effects of the storm by tomorrow.  

“So, for North Carolinians, I want to be clear, this storm can still be dangerous and even deadly,” he said. “Heavy rains, up to seven inches in some areas, are likely to bring flooding. Landslides are a threat in our mountains and there’s a chance of tornados statewide.” 

Coastal flooding, heavy rain, and gusty winds are also likely as this storm passes through, according to Cooper.  

In addition to weather, the governor said there is a potential for power outages over the weekend.

Cooper declared a state of emergency this week and has activated members of the state’s national guard to help with storm response, along with the state’s emergency operations center.

4:15 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

Here's what we know — and what we don't — as Ian's devastation comes into focus

Damaged boats are seen between downtown condominiums in Fort Myers, Florida on Thursday.
Damaged boats are seen between downtown condominiums in Fort Myers, Florida on Thursday. (Marco Bello/Reuters)

The scale of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Ian in Florida is only today coming into focus.

This is what we know so far:

Casualties: At least 15 people have died in connection with Hurricane Ian, but the final toll of deaths and injuries is not known yet.

President Biden said it could be the "deadliest hurricane in Florida's history."

Power outages: Over 2.6 million customers are without power across Florida. In the hardest-hit southwestern region, Hardee County, nearly 100% of customers remain without power. In Lee County, Charlotte County, and Desoto County, about 89% of all customers are in the dark.

Use these tips to stay safe while using a generator.


  • Heavy destruction in Fort Myers Beach. These photos show houses and stores splintered and debris scattered around the area. One official said the city is without electricity, water or sewage.
  • All the bridges to Pine Island, Florida, have failed, meaning the barrier island is inaccessible by car, Lee County manager Roger Desjarlais said during a briefing Thursday afternoon. There have also been five structural failures on the Sanibel Causeway because of Hurricane Ian. 
  • Flooding has also been reported in Sanibel Island, the Orlando area and Naples.

Rescues: Emergency responders are working to reach those who may still be trapped by flooding or damage.

Teams from Orange County made rescues for people and pets in waist-high water.

Over 3,000 nursing home residents have been evacuated as well.

Ian's path: The tropical storm is expected to strengthen back into a hurricane over the warm Atlantic Ocean before hitting South Carolina. The entire coast of South Carolina is under a hurricane warning.

Track the storm here.

National response: Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced Thursday that he’s activated the department’s surge capacity workforce to deploy more personnel to respond to Hurricane Ian.

More than 5,000 National Guardsmen from multiple states are positioned to assist hard-hit communities.

President Biden said he will visit Florida when conditions allow for it.

3:50 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

More than 500 people have been rescued in Lee and Charlotte Counties 

From CNN’s Jamiel Lynch

As of 2 p.m. ET, more than 500 people have been rescued in Charlotte and Lee Counties, the Florida Department of Emergency Management said in a tweet.

All were rescued since operations began Thursday morning and are still ongoing, the tweet said. 

It is unknown the condition of those rescued or if any had to be hospitalized.

See the tweet:

5:15 p.m. ET, September 29, 2022

"There's literally nothing to come back to": Fort Myers Beach council member says most homes are gone

Damaged buildings are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Fort Myers Beach, Florida on Thursday.
Damaged buildings are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Fort Myers Beach, Florida on Thursday. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Dan Allers, a council member in Fort Myers Beach, described devastation at a level "that no one really anticipated or expected" as he walked through the area Thursday after it was pounded by Hurricane Ian.

He said that he's aware of at least three deaths reported in the town located on Florida’s Estero Island. 

Allers did not know the total number of fatalities.  

He estimated that 90% of the island is gone, including businesses that had been there for decades and had weathered several hurricanes.

"When I say gone, it's not just the insides of the houses — it's brick homes, it's houses that were on stilts, wood homes," Allers said. "It's gone."

"It's total devastation," he said.

Most of the streets are blocked off by debris and homes that have been uprooted and moved by the storm, according to Allers. He said some houses on the beach side of the main thoroughfare have broken away and fallen into the Gulf of Mexico.

"Essentially if your home is not built out of concrete, to FEMA standards over the last five years, it's pretty much gone. There's literally nothing to come back to," Allers said.