Ian strengthens to hurricane again after pummeling Florida, now headed for Carolinas, Georgia
Ian strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane Thursday afternoon. It is now moving across Florida, headed toward Georgia and the Carolinas where it is expected to make landfall Friday. More than 2 million people are without power. Fox News is updating with the latest news surrounding the storm, its impact, travel and emergency updates.
Coverage for this event has ended.
The National Hurricane Center on Thursday warned of indirect fatalities as a result of Hurricane Ian.
At an advisory update, Jamie Rhome, Acting NHC Director, said carbon monoxide poisoning was statistically responsible for the most deaths during recovery efforts. Rhome said many people will run generators in the absence of power, but keep them inside for fear of them being stolen.
“This is a colorless, odorless gas so you’re not going to get a warning. You’re not going to get a smell,” Rhome said. “So please be very careful if you’ve never run a generator before.”
President Joe Biden has ordered federal assistance to help alleviate emergency conditions in South Carolina resulting from Hurricane Ian.
Biden's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate disaster relief efforts with state and local governments to provide appropriate assistance to those suffering, to save lives, and to protect property and public health and safety, the White House said.
The assistance is also determined to help avert a catastrophe in all 46 South Carolina counties.
"Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, under the Public Assistance program will be provided at 75 percent Federal funding," a statement from the White House read.
FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell named Kevin Wallace Sr. as the Federal Coordinating Officer for these federal recovery operations.
Contributions continue to pour in to the Florida Disaster Fund, which has surpassed $10 million to help the victims of Hurricane Ian, Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis announced Thursday.
"We are very appreciative and thankful for the outpouring of support. Raising more than $10 million dollars in one day to The Florida Disaster Fund demonstrates the kindness and compassion from people across this state and nation,” DeSantis said.
“These private sector contributions will be deployed quickly and effectively to meet the immediate needs of those most impacted by the storm," she added. "We cannot thank people enough for their generosity."
Volunteer Florida CEO Josie Tamayo said the donations are a "true testament" to the compassion of Florida.
“We are grateful to First Lady Casey DeSantis for her continued leadership and to all who have contributed to the Florida Disaster Fund," Tamayo said. "The amount of donations received is a true testament to the resiliency of Florida. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected.”
Several major companies from across the country have donated, including: Walmart, Amazon, Centene Charitable Foundation, Ian MacKechnie, Florida Blue, Boeing, Publix, TECO, Simply Healthcare, AirBnb, Wells Fargo, Verizon, CVS, Duke Energy, Goldman Sachs, and others.
To contribute, visit www.FloridaDisasterFund.org or text DISASTER to 20222.
President Joe Biden is planning to visit Florida and to see the impact of Hurricane Ian firsthand, once conditions allow, the White House said Thursday.
Earlier in the day, President Biden predicted Hurricane Ian could become "the deadliest hurricane in Florida's history."
"The numbers are still unclear, but we're hearing early reports of what may be substantial loss of life," he said at FEMA Headquarters in Washington.
"We're going to pull together as one team, as one America," the president added, reminding those impacted by the hurricane that rescue and recovery efforts remain underway.
"I also want to say again, to everyone in Ian's path: the danger is real, to state the obvious," Biden said.
Hurricane Ian initially made landfall over Florida as a powerful Category 4, the strongest since 2018's Hurricane Michael. The major storm weakened over night to a tropical storm but has since renewed its Category 1 hurricane status.
A resident of Naples, Florida predicts Hurricane Ian's impact in his area and across the state would be long-lasting.
Orlando International Airport says it will resume passenger flights starting at 12 p.m. Friday.
"After conferring with the National Weather service, airlines, and federal partners, it has been decided that Orlando International Airport will resume passengers flights after 12:00pm Friday, (09/30/22)," the airport said in a statement. "Travelers are advised not to arrive at the airport for their departure prior to 10 a.m., so the airport and partners can prepare working areas to better serve our customers."
The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office has confirmed to Fox News Digital two fatalities related to Hurricane Ian, but did not provide more detail about the location or circumstances of the deaths.
Officials, including President Biden and Gov. Ron DeSantis, are anticipating more fatalities as the extent of the damage from Hurricane Ian is assessed in the coming days.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gave an update on Hurricane Ian Thursday evening, saying the damage inflicted by the storm was “indescribable.”
Speaking to reporters from Tallahassee, DeSantis said entire homes and cars were swept away in floods, with some of the most significant damage in Ft. Myers Beach.
DeSantis said that at least 700 people. He said officials expect there will be mortalities reported in the coming days, but did not confirm any number.
“There will be many more rescues that are added to the tiller. We absolutely expect to have mortality from this hurricane, but I would just caution people (that) there’s a process by where that is confirmed.”
Thousands of people remain on the ground working to restore power and communications, open roads, and bring food and water for people in impacted areas.
As of 6 p.m., there were around 2.6 million Floridians without power. Some 200,000 accounts have been restored in southwest Florida since morning, DeSantis said.
The governor stressed that recovery efforts over the coming days and weeks will be a “24/7 process.”
“If anybody sees some of the utility trucks pulled over somewhere and maybe someone getting rest, understand they're working constant shifts and everyone's on the clock the whole time, and they don't actually ever have a time where people are not working,” DeSantis said.
Hurricane Ian is taking aim at the Carolinas and Georgia with "life-threatening flooding, storm surge, and strong winds," the National Hurricane Center reported Wednesday evening.
As of 8 p.m. EDT, Ian had a maximum sustained winds around 75 mph, making the hurricane a Category 1 on the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale.
Per FOX Weather, Life-threatening storm surge will be possible through Friday along the coasts of northeast Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. Hurricane warnings have expanded to included coastal North Carolina.
Lee Health said Thursday it is arranging with state officials to evacuate patients to other hospitals outside of Lee County, which remains 98% without water because of Hurricane Ian.
“The emergency departments at our hospitals will remain open. Patients who come through our emergency departments and need to be admitted will be transferred to other facilities,” Lee Health said in a statement.
Hurricane Ian is expected to arrive off the coast of the city around 10 p.m. Thursday. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry’s office says tidal and coastal flooding “remain a high concern.”
Individuals are encouraged to remain off the roads to give room to first responders in the event flooding. Garbage, recycling, bulk and yard waste service were suspended for Thursday and Friday and expected to resume Monday.
The mayor declared a State of Emergency for the City of Jacksonville on Tuesday ahead of Hurricane Ian approaching.
“It is recommended that those who live in Zones A and B and experienced flooding during previous storms consider evacuating,” the mayor’s office said in a press release.
Ian was downgraded to a Tropical Storm Wednesday evening but upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane Thursday afternoon.
Speaking to reporters Thursday afternoon, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said Hurricane Ian is expected to make landfall on Friday.
“We know this is going to be a serious storm but … we know that we can handle this is we use our heads and follow the rules,” McMaster said, telling residents to get supplies now before the storm hits. “Call your family, call you loved ones, tell them where you’re going to be.”
He said people will be safe if they use their heads and follow the rules, adding: "don't be a statistic."
Tropical force winds are expected to develop later Thursday with 60 to 70 mph wind gusts, resulting in downed trees.
NHC says potential SC landfall Friday along the state’s central and north coast. A storm surge remains in effect for entire South Carolina coast.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, after spending the week practicing at the Miami Dolphins facility, will be able to return to Tampa, Florida, to play their Sunday night football game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Over the past few days, the game at Raymond James Stadium has been in serious jeopardy as Hurricane Ian has severely impacted Southwest Florida.
Speaking at a Thursday press conference, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper urged residents to be ready as the state prepares for the remnants of Hurricane Ian.
"Our state will stand ready to assist them more after the storm passes us. But today it’s time for all North Carolinians to ready ourselves to stay safe. In recent hours, Ian has reminded us of the dangerous unpredictability of these storms and its track continues to change,” he said.
Ian is expected to strengthen into a hurricane again this evening before making landfall near Charleston, South Carolina.
“For North Carolinians, I want to be clear: this storm can still be dangerous & even deadly. Heavy rains, up to 7 inches in some areas, will likely bring flooding,” he said.
Gov. Cooper said 80 members of North Carolina National Guard have been deployed to help with storm response.
The Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) says that the next 72 hours will be the most critical when it comes to rescue missions after Hurricane Ian pummeled southwest Florida.
“We want to make sure that all the available resources can get to the residents as quickly as possible,” FDEM Director Kevin Guthrie told reporters Thursday. “We are obviously in a situation now where we are starting our 72-hour clock, and that 72-hour clock is that we search first, we secure, and then we stabilize. So that is what the focus of the state of emergency response team is going to be over the next 72 hours.”
Speaking to reporters in an afternoon update from the Charlotte County Emergency Operations Center, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday that he had seen a number of efforts to bring people to safety, particularly in Lee County, Collier County, Charlotte and Naples.
"This is going to be a 24/7 operation, because we realize how important it is," he noted.
DeSantis said that more than $2 million had been raised to support storm recovery efforts in less than 24 hours, noting that "this is just the beginning."
"There's a lot more that's going to need to be done," the governor added.
DeSantis said he had been able to meet some of the more than 42,000 linemen in Lake City, Florida, and that Florida Power & Light Company had the biggest footprint.
FPL President Eric Silagy said that 20,000 men and women were working to restore power and that 700,000 customers had seen power restored after the hurricane.
Not one transmission tower was lost.
"We are now in the process of getting the distribution system back up and the substations that had flying debris go into them cleared out so we can get them back online," he said.
Silagy explained that sections that will require rebuilding in the barrier islands.
"And so, this is a 24/7 effort to stabilize and to restore. And so, we're going to do whatever we can to assist with that effort," DeSantis stated.
The governor told members of the media that Sanibel Island in particular "is destruction" and had gotten hit with really "biblical storm surge."
Roads and structures were washed away there and he called images of Sanibel "really difficult images to see."
The governor said that while the state wants to get back to some sense of normalcy as quickly as possible, but they realized it would be harder in some areas than others.
"But ... let's work on Sanibel and let's bring it back to where it was as soon as we can."
Florida's Orange County Sheriff's Office has shared harrowing images and video of its response in the wake of Hurricane Ian.
Photos posted to Twitter show deputies wading through floodwaters and helping residents to evacuated.
"OCSO deputies on the Emergency Response Team have been helping residents evacuate all morning in the Orlo Vista neighborhood," the office said. "They will continue to assist residents that need help."
Deputies were pictured knocking on doors and looking for anyone who wanted to evacuate, with water in many places reportedly waist deep.
Pictures from Orange County Fire Rescue showed water rescues using boats.
Speaking from FEMA Headquarters in Washington on Thursday afternoon, President Biden said Hurricane Ian could be "the deadliest hurricane in Florida's history."
"The numbers are still unclear, but we're hearing early reports of what may be substantial loss of life," he explained.
The president said the U.S. Coast Guard had deployed 16 rescue helicopters, six fixed-wing aircraft and 18 rescue boats to respond to hard-hit areas.
"And, in the face of serious danger, search and rescue operations got underway before dawn this morning for people stranded and who are in desperate shape," he told reporters.
Biden said more would be learned in coming hours but that the administration knows "many families are hurting."
"We're going to pull together as one team, as one America," he assured, adding that the federal government would cover the majority of the cost of rebuilding.
Biden approved a major disaster declaration in Florida earlier in the day.
However, the danger from Ian was not over. The tropical storm was expected to once again make landfall as a Category 1 hurricane on South Carolina coast later on Thursday.
"I also want to say again, to everyone in Ian's path: the danger is real, to state the obvious," the president urged.
Turning his attention to oil and gas executives, Biden said there would be "no excuse" for raising prices at the pump.
"Do not, do not, do not use this storm as an excuse to raise gasoline prices or gouge the American public," he insisted. "America is watching and the industry should do the right thing."
Biden said that he would go to Florida – and meet with Gov. Ron DeSantis – and Puerto Rico whenever weather conditions allow.
To Puerto Ricans, he added: "We're not gone away."
In a call with FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell and Lee County Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass, President Biden discussed ways the administration can support the county in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.
That support includes immediate needs for search and rescue efforts and power restoration, as well as helping to address challenges faced by local hospitals and problems presented by damage to roads and bridges.
"The President reassured the commissioner that the administration would provide all the resources at its disposal," the White House said in a release. "The commissioner thanked the President for the support that has been provided thus far."
In an afternoon release, Gov. Ron Desantis said that search and rescue operations have been underway in response to Hurricane Ian since 1 a.m. EDT.
Urban Search and Rescue Team 2 was the first on site and the Coast Guard made dozens of rescues overnight. There are eight USAR teams with more than 800 team members performing search and rescue operations.
In addition, the National Guard and Coast Guard are landing helicopters on barrier islands to perform search and rescue.
Following Governor DeSantis' authorization, a total of 5,000 Florida Guardsmen have been activated to State Active Duty for Hurricane Ian response operations. Up to 2,000 Guardsmen from neighboring states are also activated to assist.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis detailed the state's "monumental effort" to help aid recovery after Hurricane Ian battered the state's southwest coast as a Category 4 storm.
DeSantis joined "America's Newsroom" Thursday to discuss the importance of prioritizing the "safety" of residents in harm's way, and "stabilizing" communities during the aftermath.
"It's really about the safety of the people who may still be in harm's way, bringing them to a safer environment and then stabilizing the situation," DeSantis told co-hosts Dana Perino and Bill Hemmer.
"I think Lee and Charlotte is probably going to have to rebuild some of the underlying infrastructure," he continued. "And so, that's not as simple as … taking a downed power line and reconnecting it. There's massive amounts of supplies and food, and all that medical, so this is a monumental effort, and these next 72 hours are really about securing people's safety and stabilizing the situation."
The governor confirmed search and rescue efforts have been underway "minute by minute," although he could not confirm an exact number of people who have been rescued so far.
He was also unable to confirm any number of potential fatalities, as officials said earlier they fear hundreds are dead.
"I know that the Coast Guard, I think before it even got light out, had already rescued 19 people," DeSantis said. "We have our urban search and rescue teams that are on the ground in these areas, so this is happening minute by minute. And my hope is that that number gets as high as possible because when they're being rescued … that means that they're safe."
"They may be in difficult circumstances we can bring… them to a more stable environment, but that's the goal, to find anybody who is in need of assistance," he continued.
Fox News' Bailee Hill contributed to this report.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said that crews in the city cleared roadways at dawn on Thursday.
She said the evacuation order for the county had been lifted.
"The evacuation order was lifted at 9 o'clock this morning by Hillsborough County, and so, everyone is free to come back into their residences," Castor explained.
Still, residents are asked to stay vigilant and pay attention to hazards.
Castor said that she had been on the phone with airport officials and the Tampa International Airport announced that it would reopen at 10 a.m. EDT on Friday.
"FAA requires they take down certain equipment. So, they have to put that back up and make sure that all the runways are in good, working order," Castor noted.
"The city of Tampa is on it," she said.
The airport said it had sustained no major damage from Hurricane Ian and told travelers to arrive at least two hours early on Friday.
The St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport also said its airport terminal and parking lots would reopen Friday morning and thanked emergency responders for their efforts in a tweet.
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport said that while it is open and operation, there are still some flight cancellations and delays following the storm.
The National Hurricane Center now expects Ian to restrengthen into a Category 1 hurricane later Thursday and make landfall along the South Carolina coast on Friday.
A video shows Universal Orlando guests wading through a parking lot on Thursday.
The floodwaters from Hurricane Ian there appear to be around knee-deep.
SeaWorld Orlando and Universal Orlando Resort are closed Wednesday and Thursday.
Fox Business' Aislinn Murphy contributed to this report.
The National Hurricane center said that the entire coast of South Carolina was now under a hurricane warning.
Tropical Storm Ian was located about 285 miles south of Charleston, South Carolina, and around 25 miles north-northeast of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Its maximum sustained winds had increased and were reported at 70 miles per hour.
Ian is moving toward the north-northeast near 9 mph and a turn toward the north is expected late Thursday.
On the forecast track, Ian will approach the coast of South Carolina on Florida and move farther inland.
Speaking in an update late Thursday morning, Acting NHC Deputy Director Michael Brennan said Ian would regain hurricane status overnight.
The center said there was the danger of life-threatening storm surge along the coast of northeast Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and the Neuse River, North Carolina, where a storm surge warning is in effect.
Twitter video from Orange County Fire Rescue's Public Information Office shows rescuers evacuating the Avante at Orlando senior living facility.
"@OCFireRescueAvante at Orlando currently being evacuated during to rising flood waters," it said.
Floodwaters from Tropical Storm Ian are shown to be calf-deep, as Orange County Fire Rescue members push a stretcher.
President Biden tweeted Thursday that he had spoken with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and that his administration was "continuing to take swift action to help the families of Florida."
"Overnight, I made a major disaster declaration to expedite Federal aid to supplement recovery efforts. I want the people of Florida to know that we will be here at every step of the way," he said.
In a release, FEMA said it continues to monitor Tropical Storm Ian’s path, as a second landfall could happen on the coast of Georgia and South Carolina.
Administrator Deanne Criswell is set to brief President Biden on federal response efforts at FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center.
Criswell is traveling to Florida on Friday to meet with officials and survey damage from the storm.
In a Twitter video posted early Thursday, the U.S. Coast Guard in the Southeast region said its aircrews were flying over Key West.
"#HurricaneOps @USCG Air Station #Clearwater Jayhawks air crews fly over #KeyWest searching for people in distress and assessing damages during the storm," it said.
A video posted late Wednesday showed Key West Coast Guard crews assisting people who were calling from help amidst the storm.
In another video posted Thursday, the Coast Guard said its air crews were continuing to search for missing people in the water after "an illegal migration venture failed off the Florida Keys."
"Our ships are patrolling the Florida Straits, assisting with search and rescue," it said.
U.S authorities are searching for 20 Cuban migrants who went missing off the coast of Florida Wednesday hours after Hurricane Ian tore through the area.
Border Patrol agents responded to a migrant landing Wednesday afternoon in Stock Island, Fla., when four Cuban migrants swam to the shore of the island after their boat sank, Chief Patrol Agent of the Miami Sector Walter Slosar posted on Twitter.
Local media outlets reported those four people were hospitalized.
The U.S. Coast Guard then initiated a search and rescue operation for 23 missing migrants.
Three were later rescued in the water about two miles south of Boca Chica and taken to the hospital for symptoms of exhaustion and dehydration, the USCG said.
As of Thursday morning, 20 migrants remained missing as the storm continued to move over central Florida and toward the Atlantic Ocean.
Fox News' Elizabeth Pritchett contributed to this report.
In a press briefing on Thursday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said that a state of emergency went into effect at 7 a.m. EDT.
He noted that it appears the storm is moving eastward, although tropical-storm-force winds and potential flooding are expected.
The governor advised residents to "be weather aware," noting that the state would continue to monitor now-Tropical Storm Ian and that he hopes the storm "under-delivers."
Kemp said there has not been a reason to order any evacuations and that if people were worried, they can move to higher ground and inland and then reassess.
The governor noted that he knows some residents are not willing to do that and advised to be prepared for a slow response.
Kemp said his office talked with FEMA on Wednesday and has had "great communications" with the federal government.
Multiple Florida counties struck by Hurricane Ian, which is now a tropical storm, instituted curfews Wednesday and said those who don't comply face fines and jail time.
Lee, Collier, Volusia and Flagler Counties all implemented curfews to keep people indoors.
The city of Naples also has a curfew in place indefinitely, which does not apply to first responders.
Lee County's curfew expires Friday at 6 a.m. EDT. A notice to boil drinking water is also in effect for the southwest Florida county.
Both Volusia and Flagler County have said breaking the curfews could result in fines of up to $500 and up to 60 days in jail.
Collier County's curfew expired Thursday morning. The county said violations would mean a second-degree misdemeanor.
Fox News' Timothy Nerozzi contributed to this report.
Speaking in a Thursday morning media briefing, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said that first responders had descended on southwest Florida following Hurricane Ian.
Operations are ongoing, with 28 large helicopters between the National Guard and Coast Guard performing rescue missions, and more air assets brought in as the day continues.
DeSantis said his office had also been working with hospitals overnight that have been on generator power and were in the process of evacuating health care facilities to safer locations.
The governor noted that, in addition to the more than 2.5 million power outages reported in the state, more outages were anticipated in central and northeastern Florida.
"Lee and Charlotte are basically off the grid at this point," he explained, adding that infrastructure would likely have to be rebuilt there and that damage to the counties was "extensive."
DeSantis said that, after interruptions in communications, 100 portable cell towers were being deployed in southwest Florida.
Furthermore, 100 engineers were on site to do bridge inspections, and he noted that there were reports of structural damages to bridges like the Sanibel Causeway and Pine Island Bascule Bridge.
DeSantis warned that the amount of water that's been rising and will continue to rise is "basically a 500-year flood event."
The governor said he had spoken with President Biden earlier in the morning, and that additional major disaster declarations are expected for more Florida counties.
Water is anticipated to subside in barrier islands and on the coasts, but DeSantis told reporters that standing water is likely inland for the coming days.
"Those who are in need of life support right now: Help is on the way," he said, pointing out that efforts were first focused in the hardest hit areas.
"The impacts of this storm are historic ... But, I think we've never seen a flood event like this ... And, it's going to end up doing extensive damage to a lot of peoples' homes," DeSantis pointed out.
The governor said most school districts will be able to reopen on Friday or Monday.
Answering questions later in the news conference, DeSantis responded to a report of "hundreds" of fatalities in Lee County: "So, none of that is confirmed."
He said that a number put out by Lee authorities was "basically an estimate" of people calling 911 and saying that water was rising in their homes.
"They may not have ended up getting through," DeSantis said, telling the reporter that he hoped they could be rescued at this point.
He clarified that there were two unconfirmed fatalities and that they had not yet been confirmed to be related to the storm.
"I mean, our assumption is, it likely is," DeSantis said.
The Skyway Bridge remains closed following Hurricane Ian.
The Florida Highway Patrol's Troop C tweeted Thursday that several trees and debris were blocking approaches to the span.
"Please stay off the highways while law enforcement and highway crews survey and remove roadway obstructions," it urged.
FEMA Public Affairs Director Jaclyn Rothenberg tweeted that Administrator Deanne Criswell would travel to Florida on Friday to survey the damage and make assessments, as well as meet with local officials.
Tampa International Airport wrote that damage assessments were underway at its facilities.
"We are closely coordinating our reopening with the FAA, TSA, airlines and other partners based on roadway safety, facility readiness and required staffing," it said. "We hope to have an update on reopening plans later today."
Hurricane Ian destroyed a section of the Sanibel Causeway connecting Sanibel Island and Captiva with mainland Florida, preventing all access for ground vehicles.
Meteorologist Bryan Bennett first showed the collapsed section on Twitter, revealing a missing portion of the causeway dozens of feet long.
Storm reporters with the Tampa Bay Times also confirmed the damage, saying the missing section comes right before the bridge rises up toward the island.
The Sanibel Causeway is a 12-mile stretch of road that rises into a bridge connecting the island with the mainland.
The bridge is the only land-access route between the two areas.
Fox News' Anders Hagstrom contributed to this report.
The Volusia County Sheriff said a 72-year-old Deltona man lost his life overnight after going outside during the storm to drain his pool.
In a release, the office said that deputies had responded to a home on Poinciana Lane near Lake Bethel at around 1 a.m. EDT after the victim’s wife reported he had disappeared after going outside.
"While searching for him, deputies found his flashlight, then spotted the victim unresponsive in a canal behind the home," authorities explained.
While deputies pulled the man from the water and performed CPR until paramedics arrived, he could not be revived.
He was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
An initial investigation indicated that the victim was using a hose to drain the pool down a hill and into a 30-foot-wide canal, where a steep decline into the water was extremely soft and slippery due to the heavy rain.
"The Sheriff’s Office sends its sincere condolences to the victim’s family."
The White House said President Biden had declared that a major disaster exists in Florida and ordered federal aid to supplement recovery efforts in areas affected by Hurricane Ian beginning on Sept. 23.
The action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota.
Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other recovery programs.
Federal funding also is available to state, tribal and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for debris removal in the counties of Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota and emergency protective measures statewide.
For a period of 30 days from the start of the incident period, assistance for debris removal and emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, is authorized at 100% of the total eligible costs.
Lastly, federal funding is available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.
Storm damage assessments are continuing in other areas, and additional areas may be designated for assistance.
Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated areas can begin applying for assistance at www.DisasterAssistance.gov, by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362) or by using the FEMA App.
A dramatic video shows the moment a group of Good Samaritans in Florida rescued an elderly man trapped in his car amidst raging waters and strong winds from then-Hurricane Ian.
"We saw an elderly man struggling in his car, and we knew he needed help," Benny from @colliercountycowboys told Fox Weather.
The rescue occurred in Bonita Springs and the man's vehicle door had reportedly been wedged shut before the groups intervention.
"The guys all maintained to grab the door and pry it open," he said. "He was a bit in shock, so he didn’t want to let go, so we assured him we were there to help him."
A Florida woman was rescued by the Naples, Florida, fire department Wednesday during Hurricane Ian.
An emergency citywide curfew was issued until further notice.
The curfew does not apply to first responders and emergency workers.
Videos posted to social media showed water moving houses in Naples and residents asked for rescues.
UPDATE: Speaking on the program after the interview, Co-anchor George Stephanopolous said GMA had reached back out to the sheriff following his remarks and Marceno said that he can't confirm the numbers.
The sheriff of Lee County, Florida, told "Good Morning America" on Thursday morning that deaths from the storm in the area were in the hundreds.
"We have fatalities in the hundreds," Sheriff Carmine Marceno said, although noting he couldn't confirm specific numbers.
The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office shared photos to social media early Thursday showing trees that had damaged property and blocked roadways in the wake of now Tropical Storm Ian.
"Here are a few images from our Tactical First In Teams (TFIT)," the office tweeted.
"We began damage assessment just after midnight [and] started clearing routes for emergency vehicles, thoroughfares to hospitals, access to lift stations [and] more," it said.
"We are out there in force, Sarasota County," the office assured. "Sit tight."
A video posted minutes later showed crews working to remove the trees.
"Here’s a first look at Sarasota County roadways w/our Tactical First In Teams (TFIT). It appears most of the damage is south of Venice Avenue. There are still several road obstructions including fallen trees and debris, standing waterand downed power lines," the office noted.
The National Hurricane Center said in an early Thursday morning update that Hurricane Ian was now a tropical storm.
Forecasters noted that the storm was still expected to produce strong winds, heavy rains and storm surge across parts of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.
It was located about 35 miles southwest of Cape Canaveral, with maximum sustained winds of 65 miles per hour.
Hurricane warnings have been changed to tropical storm warnings along the east and west coasts of the Florida peninsula.
Ian is moving toward the northeast near 8 mph, with an increase in forward speed projected on Friday and Friday night.
It could be near hurricane strength when it approaches the coast of South Carolina on Friday.
The center will move farther inland across the Carolinas on Friday night and Saturday and weakening is expected.
Hurricane Ian continues to batter central and northern Florida with high wind gusts and flooding rains that have knocked out power to nearly 2.5 million residents in the state.
The major storm weakened overnight and now has sustained winds of 75 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
It is expected to emerge over the Atlantic Ocean later today.
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood predicted the recovery effort for Hurricane Ian will be like "something we've not seen in this county ever."
Naples resident Emily Burke and Orlando resident Jeff Schwartz describe their decisions to remain in their respective homes to wait out Hurricane Ian.
Ian, though weakened from its once Category 4 strength, has sustained winds of 75 mph. It is located just south of Orlando.
Major wireless carriers have announcing plans to help customers in Florida retain service during the crisis.
Verizon's crisis response team is providing free communications support to public safety agencies responding to the hurricane, setting up portable cell sites, Wi-Fi hotspots, free charging stations and other services.
Verizon residential and small-business customers in areas hit by Ian will receive unlimited calling, texting and data through Oct. 4.
"Hurricane Ian has already disrupted the lives of millions of Floridians," Shawn Alexander, Verizon consumer vice president, said in a statement. "We hope this offer gives our customers one less thing to worry about so they can focus on staying safe."
AT&T is waiving talk, text and data overage changes for both prepaid and billed customers impacted by the storm. The program covers customers in more than 800 affected Florida ZIP codes through Oct. 28.
T-Mobile is also offering unlimited talk, text and data through Oct. 3 for those expected to be impacted by the hurricane.
For more on the story, click here: Hurricane Ian impact: Major cell phone carriers working to provide service to Florida customers
Florida school buildings were cleared out and designated as shelters for evacuees and community members who are searching for safety ahead of Hurricane Ian's arrival.
Educators and school staff across many counties have been pitching in as the storm, first reported as a Category 4, made landfall Wednesday and left more than a million Floridians without power.
"We are all working around the clock... to make sure everything is really running smoothly alongside the Tampa Police Department," said De'Quan Wilson, a fourth-grade teacher in Hillsborough County, where some schools have become storm shelters.
Prior to Ian's landfall on Wednesday just south of Tampa, some 45 classrooms were packed up at the Lockhart Elementary Magnet School in Tampa, where Wilson teaches, in preparation to house evacuees.
"It looks as if we are leaving for summer [vacation]," Wilson told Fox News Digital about the empty classrooms.
Roughly 150 people are already sheltering in place at the school and Wilson said they are not yet at maximum capacity.
"We are ready to accept anyone with open arms," he said.
For more on the story, click here: Hurricane Ian slams Florida as schools act as shelters: 'Ready to accept anyone with open arms,' teacher says
Countries in central Florida have issues flash flood warnings as Hurricane Ian continues to slowly crawl across the state.
Flash Flood Warning are in effect until 6:15 a.m. Thursday for Seminole, Volusia, and Orange counties, FOX 35 reported.
Orange County Government's Office of Emergency Management Chief Lauraleigh Avery told the outlet that residents should remain where they are rather than risk traveling through dangerous conditions.
"Wherever they are, they need to stay put," Avery said. "We could have a really rapid amount of rain, a lot of rain coming really fast. We were already expecting 12 to 20 inches of rain now we could go up to 30 in some areas."
Despite losing strength overland, Ian is still a major storm that has sustained winds of 90 mph.
The City of Kissimmee announced first responders can no longer attempt certain rescue efforts due to Hurricane Ian.
"To protect the safety of our first responders, as sustained winds have reached 45 mph, the City of Kissimmee Police and Fire crews can no longer respond to calls at this time," the city said.
It added: "If you have an emergency, we encourage you to still call 9-1-1, and our public safety crews will respond to you as soon as possible."
Hurricane Ian left Florida residents trapped in their homes, knocked the power out to more than 2.3 million people and damaged the roof of a hospital intensive care unit.
The storm made landfall as one of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit the United States and its record-setting storm surges and subsequent flooding has left much of southwest Florida facing major recovery efforts.
In Port Charlotte, the storm surge flooded a lower-level emergency room at HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital while 90+ mph winds repeatedly damaged part of the roof from its intensive care unit, a doctor who works at the hospital said.
Dr. Birgit Bodine said water poured into the ICU, forcing staff and some of the hospital’s sickest patients to evacuate. While some staff members used towels to try to mop up the unwelcomed water, Bodine said the priority of the hospital was on ensuring patients' safety.
“As long as our patients do OK and nobody ends up dying or having a bad outcome, that’s what matters," Bodine said.
Emergency response officials in Fort Myers have received calls from people trapped in flooded homes or from relatives of those missing and unaccounted for.
State officials like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie warned personnel would not be able to immediately rescue those who are trapped. The recovery effort to restore vital infrastructure and allow for emergency vehicles to pass will likely take days.
Ian weakened by late Wednesday to a Category 1 storm with 90 mph winds and continues its crawl across the state. Surges as high as 6 feet were reported early Thursday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
The Orlando Magic have announced the cancellation of its second straight practice due to Hurricane Ian.
The NBA team has been mostly unable train for its 2022-23 season, which officially begins next week, as the Category 1 hurricane continues to devastate central Florida.
ESPN reported the Magic started training camp on Tuesday but have not been able to practice since due to the storm. The team intends to return to practice Friday, three days prior to their preseason opener at Memphis on Monday.
Hurricane Ian pummeled southwest Florida after making landfall Wednesday, but the storm is forecast to make a third landfall in a different part of the U.S. later this week.
Ian was a monstrous Category 4 storm with 150 mph winds when it first came ashore on Cayo Costa about 3 p.m. About 90 minutes later, the hurricane made a second landfall – this time just south of Punta Gorda with 145 mph winds.
Here’s where Ian is headed next, and a detailed look at the forecast.
Hurricane Ian has been on a weakening trend since moving onto the Florida Peninsula but is expected to remain a hurricane through at least Thursday morning as it slogs through the state. Damaging winds and flooding rains are serious concerns as Ian moves over inland locales such as Lakeland, Kissimmee and Orlando.
Ian is forecast to be a tropical storm by the time it moves out of Florida and into the Atlantic by Friday morning. The storm is expected to move north toward the Georgia and South Carolina coastline, making a third landfall late Friday afternoon.
Damaging winds and flooding rains are expected as Ian approaches the coast. Upwards of 10 inches of rain is possible, mainly in areas between Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina.
Visit Fox Weather to read more on the storm's forecast: Where is Hurricane Ian headed next? Dangerous storm’s impacts will be widespread
Hurricane Ian, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the U.S., devastated much of southern and central Florida with tremendous flooding and catastrophic winds, causing leaders in other states in the storm's projected path to issue emergency declarations.
Governors in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia are allocating all departments and resources to assist residents ahead of the major storm's anticipated impact in their respective states.
On Tuesday, ahead of Ian's initial landfall, Gov. Brian Kemp issued a state of emergency for all Georgia counties.
GEMA Director James C. Stallings said during a press conference on Tuesday that the declaration allows Georgia to "bring all state resources to bear to ensure a safe and quick recovery for all Georgia citizens," Fox Atlanta reported.
On Wednesday afternoon, just moments after Hurricane Ian, then a Category 4, made landfall in southwest Florida, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster declared a state of emergency.
The announcement was followed by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper declaring a state of emergency, where he also called on North Carolinians to "stay aware, keep a close eye on the forecast and prepare their emergency supplies.”
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin declared a state of emergency Wednesday, although the storm is not expected to impact portions of Virginia until Friday, September 30.
“Hurricane Ian is a large, powerful storm, and current predictions indicate that it may impact parts of Virginia later this week into early next week,” Youngkin said in a statement.
He added: “We want to ensure that our communities have the resources needed to respond to and recover from any potential effects from the storm. While we recognize that the storm track is still uncertain, I nevertheless encourage all Virginians and visitors to make a plan, have supplies on hand, and follow official sources for the latest forecast information and guidance. Suzanne and I will be praying for those in Florida in the path of the storm.”
Hurricane Ian made landfall as the fifth-strongest hurricane to strike the U.S., when measured by wind speed.
Fox News' Bradford Betz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
More than 2 million Floridians are without power as the Category 2 Hurricane Ian continues to path across the state.
As of 11 p.m. ET Wednesday, reported outages totaled approximately 2,027,852, according to PowerOutage.us.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis previously predicted millions would be affected by the massive storm, which made landfall as a Category 4, with sustained winds of 150 mph. Ian has since weakened to a Category 2, with sustained winds of 55 mph, but continues to batter Florida with catastrophic winds and flooding.
Most outages were reported by the Florida Power & Light Company, Duke Energy, and Tampa Electric.
Governors in Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia have all made emergency declarations as Hurricane Ian continues to travel north along the eastern coast.
The Global Empowerment Mission, a disaster relief nonprofit located in Doral, Florida, is sending trucks full of humanitarian supplies to help those impacted by Hurricane Ian.
Two 18-wheelers filled with thousands of family necessity kits (food, toiletries, etc.) and other supplies (tarps, etc.) will be loaded at GEM headquarters Thursday morning and will be delivered directly to the impacted areas in southwest Florida, the nonprofit said.
On Thursday, Global Empowerment Mission founder Michael Capponi will join Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava at Mission headquarters at approximately 7 a.m. to thank the volunteers who helped pack the trucks before they depart for SW Florida.
For previous coverage of Hurricane Ian from Wednesday, 09/28, click here.
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