Saturday updates for Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Sanibel
This is a live news blog with information about the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Southwest Florida Our reporters and photographers are spread out across Southwest Florida covering our communities and providing the latest information.
Free food and water available at these sites
The county is coordinating the initial opening of eight distribution sites throughout the county. Announcements will be made with location information as more are opened and supplies become available. .
Hours will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Locations now open:
- Old Bonita Library, 26876 Pine Ave., Bonita Springs
- Kelly Road Soccer Complex, 10750 Kelly Road, Fort Myers
- Cape Coral Sports Complex, 1410 Sports Blvd., Cape Coral
- Cape Coral Leonard Street, 4820 Leonard St., Cape Coral
- Estero High School Ballfield Park, 9100 Williams Road, Estero
- North Fort Myers Recreation Center, 2000 N. Recreation Park Way, North Fort Myers
- Fleamasters Fleamarket, 4135 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Fort Myers
- Veterans Park Recreation Center, 55 Homestead Road S., Lehigh Acres
The Florida Department of Law enforcement released Ian death counts Saturday night, reporting 44 statewide, including 30 in Lee and 3 in Collier.
The FDLE news release said: 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
It may be months before some Southwest Florida coastal areas hammered by Hurricane Ian have their power restored, according to Florida Power & Light Co.
“We are repairing in most places outside of, right along the barrier islands and the beaches and the immediate coast line of Southwest Florida,” FPL CEO Eric Silagy said Saturday night. “Those areas are going to be rebuilding, and unfortunately for those who live there, we are looking at weeks or months. Frankly, many homes and businesses will not be able to accept power when that power is restored.”
Lee County had 166,000 FPL addresses without power Saturday night while the Collier tally was 77,650. When including other utilities, Collier had 97,819 unable to turn on their lights or 37% overall. And in Lee, it was 341,337 or 72%.
That’s a slight improvement from Saturday morning, when 40% of Collier and 73% of Lee woke up without electricity.
Sanibel Island residents thinking about an immediate return — even in two weeks — to the island to inspect their property should heed officials’ advice:
“No,” City Manager Dan Souza said. “There is not utilities. There is not water. There is not sewer. There is not electricity. And it’s more than spartan.
WAUCHULA, Florida — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Saturday said that SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk was helping Southwest Florida regain internet connectivity through his Starlink satellite service.
DeSantis said Musk was positioning the satellite to improve coverage in the region and also providing 120 Starlink ground station units to help people nearby to gain internet connection.
“Hopefully, that will assist with some of the connectivity issues,” DeSantis said.
Hurricane Ian pummeled the state on Wednesday with crushing storm surge, obliterating wind speeds and torrential rainfall, leaving a swath of devastation from the southwestern coast across the I-4 corridor.
The U.S. Coast Guard has organized a waterborne operation to help people evacuate Pine Island during daylight hours Sunday, Oct. 2.
Residents are asked to make their way to Pine Island Fire Department, 5700 Pine Island Rd NW, Bokeelia, where they will be taken by truck to Yucatan Waterfront on Pine Island Road via truck.
From Yucatan Waterfront, various U.S. Coast Guard, other agency partners and volunteer vessels will take evacuees across Matlacha Pass to D & D Bait and Tackle, 3922 Pine Island Road NW, where LeeTran buses will take them to a shelter.
More information regarding Hurricane Ian can be found at www.leegov.com. Follow @Lee County Government on Facebook, www.facebook.com/leecountyflbocc
The winter homes of inventor Thomas Edison and industrialist Henry Ford made it out the other side of Hurricane Ian unscathed, the museum confirmed on Saturday.
“All of our historic homes and the other structures have weathered the storm just fine,” said Lisa Wilson, public relations director for the Edison & Ford Winter Estates. “We got really, really lucky.”
While the Caloosahatchee River flooded, the homes skated by without water damage because they are elevated. The banyan and mysore fig trees planted by Edison and his staff in the late 1920s also survived, Wilson said.
Two days after rescue efforts related to Hurricane Ian began, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno provided a grim update.
Marceno said there have been 35 deaths in Lee County.
Julie Martin, spokesperson for the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, said later Saturday that the sheriff’s office wasn’t unable to provide a breakdown of those deaths by jurisdiction or city at the moment.
Marceno said there had been between 600 and 700 rescues on Saturday.
The Caloosahatchee Estuary was shoved back toward Lake Okeechobee during deadly Hurricane Ian.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officers are assessing Southwest Florida and the Caloosahatchee River as water blasted up the river, setting a new record for reverse flow at the W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam.
Typically during the summer 1,000 to 3,000 cubic feet per second will flow through the dam, but Hurricane Ian pushed water up the river at rate of nearly 30,000 cubic feet per second.
“That seems like too much (water),” said Jim Yocum, Army Corps spokesman. “We set a record for storm surge going the other way. It was pretty impressive.”
Water on the downstream side of the river is usually 1 to 3 feet higher than the river due to upwelling and pressure.
That number jumped to a record 9.3 feet after Hurricane Ian.
“And that’s coming up the river,” Yocum said.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, First Lady Casey DeSantis announced that within 48 hours of activation the Florida Disaster Fund raised over $20 million in donations to support communities impacted by Hurricane Ian. To contribute, please visit www.FloridaDisasterFund.org or text DISASTER to 20222.
“Raising more than $20 million in 48 hours for The Florida Disaster Fund is a testament to the generosity and compassion from people across Florida and the country,” said First Lady Casey DeSantis. “This funding is already being utilized by organizations in the field to help people who have been impacted by this storm. We are incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support for Florida.”
Here are some numbers from a Saturday morning FEMA press conference on response to Hurricane Ian:
23: Confirmed deaths
1.3 million: Floridians without power
238: Generators staged throughout Florida to provide emergency power
4,000: People rescued
10,000: Staying in shelters (Total number of people displaced is still being tallied)
2,000: number of FEMA employees at work in Florida
Top three things citizens should do during recovery:
1: Stay focused on safety
2: Stay off roads
3: Don’t walk or drive in flood water
Source: FEMA press conference attended by Assistant Administrator, Response and Recovery, Anne Bink, US. Coast Guard, Commander, 7th Coast Guard District, Rear Admiral Brendan McPherson and American Red Cross Senior Director of Integrated Field Communications, Anthony Tornetta
- Water levels in the Caloosahatchee River rose about seven feet above normal in downtown Fort Myers during Hurricane Ian, according to federal tide data.
- Water levels at the Naples pier rose about six feet above normal before the station stopped collecting data early Wednesday afternoon during the hurricane. It is currently disabled.
- The data comes from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tide gages. There are not stations on Sanibel and Fort Myers Beach.
- However, if the water level rose more than 10 feet on Fort Myers Beach, as many residents suspect, Ian could be considered a 100-year-flood event based on water levels, according to pending FEMA flood maps. That means the chances of a storm like Ian hitting is once every 100 years. If the water levels rose more than 12 feet there, it would be considered a 500-year-flood event based on water levels, according to the flood maps.
Governor Ron DeSantis has called Ian “basically a 500-year flood event.”
According to Southwest International Airport spokesperson Vicky Moreland there is no timeline for re-opening the airport.
She confirmed that a Delta flight from Atlanta landed at RSW earlier on Saturday with supplies.
Water services will begin to return to some Lee County Utilities customers who have been without water services for days.
County spokeswoman Betsy Clayton said pressure will likely drop periodically as repairs area made. A boil water notice remains in effect for all customers of Lee County Utilities.
Water services are available to homes and business in places like Lehigh Acres and at the Bonita Springs Utilities in south Lee.
Clayton encouraged the public to conserve water and to limit the use of dish-washing machines and to avoid washing cars.
Don’t open manholes over sewer infrastructure, she said in an email.
Lumen technicians continue to survey and repair network damage in Florida communities, following safety guidelines.
Saturday, Oct. 1 Update:
We are prioritizing our restoration efforts for healthcare and safety services.
Commercial power remains out in a large part of the state so many Lumen network locations remain on generators and battery power.
Flooding issues are growing in some locations and continue to impact technicians being dispatched for repairs and to refuel generators.
Approximately 323,000 home internet and 47,000 home phone services are impacted, up slightly from yesterday.
We will continue to make repairs as quickly as possible while keeping employee safety a top priority.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Please be advised that the Myakka River under Interstate 75 (I-75) has risen and impacted the interstate, no longer making it safely passable for motorists. Due to the rising water, I-75 in both directions is now closed from mile marker 179 (North Port / Toledo Blade Blvd) to mile marker 193 (Englewood / Jacaranda Blvd). Motorists planning on traveling on I-75 to southwest Florida should seek an alternative route or follow the detours below.
Motorists traveling southbound on I-75:
A detour will be established at exit 257 (Brandon) to re-route motorists east on S.R. 60 to U.S. 98.
If a motorist chooses to continue southbound on I-75, they will only be able to travel as far as exit 193 (Englewood / Jacaranda Blvd).
At exit 193, motorists will be forced to exit and turn around and return northbound.
Motorists traveling northbound on I-75:
A detour will be established at exit 141 (Palm Beach Blvd) to re-route motorists east on S.R. 80 / U.S. 27 to U.S. 98.
If a motorist chooses to continue northbound on I-75, they will only be able to travel as far as exit 179 (North Port / Toledo Blade Blvd).
At exit 179, motorists will be forced to exit and turn around and return southbound.
Motorists should avoid I-75 between mile markers 179 and 193. As motorist safety is the top priority, the Florida Department of Transportation and Florida Highway Patrol will continue to monitor the river and bridge. FDOT is in contact with WAZE, Google, and Apple Maps.
Major delays are expected in the area, please plan accordingly. The detours are expected to be in place until the water recedes. Please drive with caution through the area as other flooding is being experienced in the area.
Floridians should visit www.FL511.com – or download the app – for up-to-date information on road closures and travel routes.
It was only by boat that Jay Johnson could reach the restaurant that has been in his family’s possession for that past two decades.
And when he reached the waters of Matlacha Pass, Bert’s Bar & Grill was nowhere to be found . Hurricane Ian had smashed to pieces the landmark in the Old Florida fishing village, leaving behind only its iconic colorfully painted pilings. Next door, his father’s home was badly damaged.
A stream of expletives followed, stunned by disbelief.
“I had been told that Matlacha was pretty beat up and I had people that stopped by and said that Bert’s was gone. I didn’t know how bad until you get there,” Johnson said Friday morning. “It had been in our family for 23 years, and it’s just gone.”