By Jason Hanna and Aya Elamroussi, CNN
Updated 8:00 PM EDT, Sat October 1, 2022
Listen to the terrifying call of a Florida woman trapped in floodwaters
00:38 - Source: CNN
Editor’s Note: Affected by the storm? Use CNN’s lite site for low bandwidth. You also can text or WhatsApp your Ian stories to CNN +1 332-261-0775.
It could be more than a week until power lines are fully restored in some parts of Florida as residents deal with major flooding after the deadly Hurricane Ian, expected to be the most expensive storm in the Sunshine State’s history.
At least 66 people are believed to have died because of Ian in Florida alone, and four people were killed in storm-related incidents in North Carolina, officials say. Ian also knocked out power for hundreds of thousands in the Carolinas Friday into early Saturday.
Eric Silagy, president and CEO of Florida Power & Light Company, said it could take up to a week from Sunday before power is restored in storm-damaged counties. And some customers may not be back on the grid for “weeks or months” because some buildings with structural damage will need safety inspections first.
Meanwhile, river flooding may continue inland well into next week, forecasters warned.
In western Florida’s Arcadia – dozens of miles inland – river flooding still covered part of the town like a lake on Saturday, making a state highway invisible and swallowing all but the roof of a gas station, a CNN crew there saw. Near Sarasota, a possible levee break forced officers to evacuate a neighborhood early Saturday over flooding concerns.
Live updates: Recovery efforts begin in Florida and the Carolinas
In hard-hit Fort Myers, where storm surge swallowed vehicles and many homes’ first levels, Rob Guarino is hosting friends in his high-rise apartment who lost everything.
“A few of them are staying with me now. They just have nowhere to go,” Guarino told CNN’s Boris Sanchez Saturday morning.
By Saturday evening, Ian was a post-tropical cyclone, continuing to weaken across southern Virginia, and it could drop several more inches of rain over parts of West Virginia and western Maryland into Sunday morning, the National Hurricane Center said.
On Wednesday, Ian smashed into southwest Florida as a Category 4 hurricane, pulverizing coastal homes and trapping residents with floodwaters, especially in the Fort Myers and Naples areas. It pushed inland into Thursday, bringing strong winds and damaging flooding to central and northeastern areas.
The hurricane then made another landfall Friday in South Carolina between Charleston and Myrtle Beach as a Category 1 storm, flooding homes and vehicles along the shoreline and eventually knocking out power for hundreds of thousands more in the Carolinas and Virginia.
More than a million customers in Florida still did not have power Saturday evening, and more than 99,000 did not have power in North Carolina, according to poweroutage.us.
‘We can’t hold on anymore’
In Florida’s Fort Myers Beach, where a furious storm surge wiped out homes and left little but debris, shaken survivors are coping with what they saw and mourning those they’ve lost.
Kevin Behen, who rode out the storm on the second floor of a building in Fort Myers Beach, told CNN Friday night he knew of two men who died making sure their wives escaped a home which had begun to flood.
“These guys pushed their wives out the windows to where a tree was,” Behen said. “They just looked at their wives and they said, ‘We can’t hold on anymore. We love you. Bye,’ and that was it.”
A broken section of road and destroyed houses are seen in Matlacha, Florida, on Saturday, October 1.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden talk to people impacted by Hurricane Ian in Fort Myers, Florida, during a tour of the area on Wednesday, October 5.
Greg Guidi, left, and Thomas Bostic unload supplies from a boat on Pine Island, Florida, on Tuesday, October 4. With the roads onto the island made impassable, people were getting supplies to the island by boat.
Members of a search-and-rescue team comb through the wreckage on Fort Myers Beach on Tuesday.
Stephanie Fopiano, right, gets a hug from Kenya Taylor, both from North Port, as she gets emotional about her situation at the Venice High School hurricane shelter in Venice, Florida, on Monday, October 3.
Workers and residents clear debris from a destroyed bar in Fort Myers on Saturday, October 1.
Beachgoers look at a large shrimping boat that was swept ashore in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on Saturday.
Local muralist Candy Miller, left, embraces Ana Kapel, the manager of the Pier Peddler, a gift shop that sold women's fashions, as she becomes emotional at the site where the store once stood on Fort Myers Beach on Friday.
Waters from a rain-swollen pond cover grass and a foot path around Quarterman Park in North Charleston, South Carolina, on Friday.
Members of the US Army National Guard help people evacuate from flood waters in North Port, Florida, on Friday, September 30.
Water streams past buildings on the oceanfront on Sanibel Island, Florida, on Friday.
University of Central Florida students use an inflatable mattress as they evacuate an apartment complex in Orlando, Florida, on Friday, September 30.
A firefighter examines a fallen tree in Charleston, South Carolina, on Friday.
A man tows a canoe through a flooded street of his neighborhood in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, on Friday.
People wait in line to enter a Home Depot store in Cape Coral, Florida, on Friday. Many in Florida were still without power.
The wreckage of a car teeters on a buckled roadway on Friday in Matlacha, Florida.
Members of the Texas A&M Task Force 1 Search and Rescue team look for anyone needing help on Friday in Fort Myers, Florida.
A man takes photos Thursday, September 29, of boats that were damaged by Hurricane Ian in Fort Myers, Florida.
Bob Levitt returns to his condemned home to retrieve his cat, which he found hiding in a bedroom Thursday in Palm Beach County, Florida. A tornado spawned by the hurricane left residents homeless.
This aerial photo shows damaged homes and debris in Fort Myers Beach on Thursday.
Jake Moses and Heather Jones explore a section of destroyed businesses in Fort Myers Beach, Florida, on Thursday.
Workers in Naples, Florida, clean up debris on Thursday.
A section of the Sanibel Causeway is seen on Thursday after it collapsed due to the effects of the storm.
Stedi Scuderi looks over her flooded apartment in Fort Myers on Thursday.
A resident of Orange County, Florida, and a couple of dogs are rescued from floodwaters on Thursday.
A boat lies partially submerged in Punta Gorda, Florida, on Thursday.
Tom Park begins cleaning up in Punta Gorda on Thursday.
Residents of Port Charlotte, Florida, line up for free food that was being distributed from a taco truck on Thursday.
A causeway to Florida's Sanibel Island is seen on Thursday. The causeway is the only way to get to or from Sanibel and Captiva Islands to Florida's mainland.
People clear a large tree off their home in Fort Myers on Thursday.
Homes are flooded in Port Charlotte on Thursday.
Jonathan Strong dives into floodwaters while he and his girlfriend, Kylie Dodd, knock on doors to help people in a flooded mobile home community in Iona, Florida, on Thursday. "I can't just sit around while my house is intact and let other people suffer," he said. "It's what we do: community helping community."
Brenda Brennan sits next to a boat that pushed up against her apartment building in Fort Myers on Thursday. She said the boat floated in around 7 p.m. Wednesday.
People walk along the beach looking at property damaged in Bonita Springs, Florida, on Thursday.
An Orlando resident is rescued from floodwaters on Thursday.
Vehicles make their way through flooded streets in Fort Myers on Thursday.
Stefanie Karas stands in her flooded apartment in Fort Myers on Thursday. She is an artist and was salvaging what she could from her home.
Heavily damaged homes are seen on Sanibel Island on Thursday.
A spiral staircase lies next to a damaged pickup truck in Sanibel, Florida, on Thursday.
A flooded street is seen in downtown Fort Myers after Ian made landfall on Wednesday, September 28.
A woman surveys damage through a door during a power outage in Fort Myers on Wednesday.
A satellite image shows the hurricane making landfall on the southwest coast of Florida on Wednesday.
The streets of Naples, Florida, are flooded on Wednesday. City officials asked residents to shelter in place until further notice.
A woman is helped out of a muddy area Wednesday in Tampa, Florida, where water was receding due to a negative storm surge.
Strong winds hit Punta Gorda on Wednesday.
A woman holds an umbrella inverted by the wind in Tampa on Wednesday.
Sailboats anchored in Roberts Bay are blown around in Venice, Florida, on Wednesday.
Melvin Phillips stands in the flooded basement of his mobile home in Stuart, Florida, on Wednesday.
A man walks where water was receding from Tampa Bay on Wednesday.
Damage is seen at the Kings Point condos in Delray Beach, Florida, on Wednesday. Officials believe it was caused by a tornado fueled by Hurricane Ian.
A TV crew broadcasts from the beach in Fort Myers on Wednesday.
Utility trucks are staged in a rural lot Wednesday in The Villages, a Florida retirement community.
Highways in Tampa are empty Wednesday ahead of Hurricane Ian making landfall. Several coastal counties in western Florida were under mandatory evacuations.
An airplane is overturned in Pembroke Pines, Florida, on Wednesday.
Zuram Rodriguez surveys the damage around her home in Davie, Florida, early on Wednesday.
People play dominoes by flashlight during a blackout in Havana, Cuba, on Wednesday. Crews in Cuba have been working to restore power for millions after the storm battered the western region with high winds and dangerous storm surge, causing an islandwide blackout.
People walk through a flooded street in Batabano, Cuba, on Tuesday.
Southwest Airlines passengers check in near a sign that shows canceled flights at the Tampa International Airport on Tuesday.
Maria Llonch retrieves belongings from her home in Pinar del Rio, Cuba, on Tuesday.
Traffic builds along Interstate 4 in Tampa on Tuesday.
A man carries his children through rain and debris in Pinar del Rio on Tuesday.
People drive through debris in Pinar del Rio on Tuesday.
Frederic and Mary Herodet board up their Gulf Bistro restaurant in St. Pete Beach, Florida, on Tuesday.
NASA's Artemis I rocket rolls back to the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Tuesday. The launch of the rocket was postponed due to the impending arrival of Hurricane Ian.
Hurricane Ian is seen from the International Space Station on Monday, September 26.
A Cuban family transports personal belongings to a safe place in the Fanguito neighborhood of Havana on Monday.
A family carries a dog to a safe place in Batabano on Monday.
People wait in lines to fuel their vehicles at a Costco store in Orlando on Monday.
Ryan Copenhaver, manager of Siesta T's in Sarasota, Florida, installs hurricane panels over the store's windows on Monday.
A man helps pull small boats out of Cuba's Havana Bay on Monday.
Shelves are empty in a supermarket's water aisle in Kissimmee on Monday.
Cathie Perkins, emergency management director in Pinellas County, Florida, references a map Monday that indicates where storm surges would impact the county. During a news conference, she urged anyone living in those areas to evacuate.
Sarah Peterson fills sandbags in Fort Myers Beach on September 24.
About 90% of the island “is pretty much gone,” Fort Myers Beach Town Councilman Dan Allers said Friday. “Unless you have a high-rise condo or a newer concrete home that is built to the same standards today, your house is pretty much gone.”
“I’ve been in this community since the mid-70s, I was on the police department for 25 years, worked a lot of storms, this is by far the worst one I’ve ever seen,” Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson told CNN’s Jim Acosta Saturday evening.
“As tough as this storm is, people are in good spirits and they’re determined not to be defeated,” the mayor added.
Sanibel and Captiva islands, meanwhile, have been cut off from the mainland after parts of a causeway were obliterated by the storm.
Those living in western Florida’s Charlotte County are “facing a tragedy” without homes, electricity or water supplies, said Claudette Smith, public information officer for the sheriff’s office.
“We need everything, to put it plain and simple. We need everything. We need all hands on deck,” Smith told CNN Friday. “The people who have come to our assistance have been tremendously helpful, but we do need everything.”
How to help victims of Hurricane Ian
Further south, in Naples, Brandon and Dylan Barlow were clearing out their grandfather’s flooded home Saturday morning. Dylan, who lives nearby, recalled watching the storm from his own home and realizing a canal by their grandfather was rising too quickly for comfort.
“I didn’t ask him if we could pick him up; I told him we’re picking him up,” Dylan Barlow recalled Saturday. “So we took the car. We got to his house, and by the time we got him out of the house, there was already maybe 2 feet of water.
“And we drove back in the water, and it was very close, but we got him out of there and we got him back to my mom’s house safely.”
Florida areas ‘unrecognizable’
At least 66 deaths suspected to be related to Ian have been reported in Florida, including about 35 in Lee County, according to the sheriff there. The toll also includes 12 in Charlotte County, eight in Collier County, five in Volusia County, three in Sarasota County, one in Polk County, one in Lake County, one in Manatee County, according to officials.
From Florida’s coastal shores to inland cities such as Orlando, dangerous flooding has forced locals into dire circumstances. In one Orlando neighborhood where deep water has covered roads, some residents traveled by boat to assist others.
Local and state officials rescued and evacuated more than 1,070 people from flooded areas in southwest and central Florida and transported 78 people from a flooded elderly care facility, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office said in a news release Saturday.
The US Coast Guard also performed rescues, according to Rear Adm. Brendan McPherson, but post-storm conditions remained a huge challenge, he told CNN Friday.
“We’re flying and we’re operating in areas that are unrecognizable. There’s no street signs. They don’t look like they used to look like. Buildings that were once benchmarks in the community are no longer there,” he said.
The Coast Guard was also preparing a waterborne operation for Sunday to help people evacuate Pine Island, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post.
And in western Florida Saturday, concerns over a possible levee break forced sheriff’s officers to go door-to-door in the Sarasota-area community of Hidden River to warn residents of possible flooding there, the sheriff’s office said.
The problem could pose flooding issues to roughly 70 homes on the east side of the Hidden River neighborhood, the sheriff’s office later added, and encouraged those residents to consider evacuating.
South of Hidden River, about 150 additional people also had to be evacuated because of intruding water in the city of North Port, which already had thousands of flooded homes, Fire Chief Scott Titus said.
Damage in the Carolinas
In North Carolina, four storm-related deaths were reported by Saturday afternoon, the governor’s office said, including a man who drowned when his truck went into a flooded swamp; two people who died in separate crashes; and a man who died of carbon monoxide poisoning after running a generator in a closed garage, the governor’s office said.
An aerial picture taken on Friday shows the only access to the Matlacha neighborhood destroyed in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Fort Myers, Florida.
No deaths were reported in South Carolina, the governor there said.
The storm has flooded homes and submerged vehicles along South Carolina’s shoreline. Two piers – one in Pawleys Island and another in North Myrtle Beach – partially collapsed as high winds pushed water even higher.
Edgar Stephens, who manages the Cherry Grove Pier in North Myrtle Beach, was steps away when a 100-foot section of the pier crashed into the ocean. The people who own the pier are committed to rebuilding, Stephens said, but it could take months to obtain all the needed materials.
Flood waters are suctioned from inside a restaurant near where Hurricane Ian made landfall in Georgetown, South Carolina, on September 30, 2022.
Authorities are also cataloging damage on South Carolina’s Pawleys Island, a coastal town roughly 70 miles north of Charleston. The biggest concern there, according to the mayor, is how to remove debris, so the island can be safe again.
“It was a Category 1 hurricane, but we experienced tremendous storm surge today, probably beyond what most people anticipated,” Mayor Brian Henry told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Friday.
A child runs under a falling tree from the effects from Hurricane Ian, Friday in Charleston, South Carolina.
“Most of us did not believe we would see the storm surge at 7-plus feet,” Henry said. “It’s beginning to recede, but we have a huge amount of water on the roadways and across the island.”
Pawleys Island residents are not allowed to return home until safety assessments are fully conducted Saturday, police said.
CNN’s Andy Rose, Rebekah Riess, Laura James, Amanda Musa, Jamiel Lynch, Ryan Young, Mike Saenz, Joe Sutton, Dave Alsup, Virginia Langmaid, Alaa Elassar, Christina Maxouris, Hannah Sarisohn, Elise Hammond and Seán Federico-O’Murchú contributed to this report.
Flooding is one of Florida's most frequent hazards. It is a coast to coast threat that can occur at any time of the year.Is Florida known for flooding? ›
As a result of their exposure to hurricanes coming from the Gulf of Mexico, Florida and its neighbors on the Gulf Coast are among the states that have sustained the most flooding damage to federally insured properties since 1978, according to the USAFacts report.Is a flood from a hurricane short term or long term? ›
The floods from storm surge usually lasts for a short time — often just a few hours — but can cause a tremendous amount of damage.Why does Florida flood so much? ›
The state, however, is surrounded by 2 major bodies of water and more than 1,700 lakes, rivers, and streams across its 67 counties. This means that Florida is extremely susceptible to floods from not only high groundwater levels, but also from the many storms it sees year-round.What part of Florida is safe from flooding? ›
Kissimmee tops our list of safest cities in the Sunshine State with the lowest combined score relating to instances of hurricanes, hail, lightning, and floods. The city has more than 65,150 residents and stretches across more than 17 miles. Safe from severe weather, yes, but the city also is ideal for thrill seekers.What are the different flood zones in Florida? ›
|IN||100-year floodplain, no BFEs determined.|
|B, X500||500-year floodplain (0.2% annual chance of flooding)|
|C, X||Outside 100-year and 500-year floodplain.|
|D, UNDES||Possible but undetermined flood hazards.|
Where Do Floods Occur? River floodplains and coastal areas are the most susceptible to flooding, however, it is possible for flooding to occur in areas with unusually long periods of heavy rainfall. Bangladesh is the most flood prone area in the world.What states are most at risk for coastal flooding? ›
The Top 5 States Most at Risk of Flooding
- New Jersey. ...
- New York. ...
- 3. California. ...
- Louisiana. ...
|Rank||Country||Flood risk, by population exposed (%)|
Standard homeowners insurance policies won't cover flood damage. You need a separate flood insurance policy to protect your home against flooding from the outside, caused by a hurricane. Some insurers offer a flood endorsement that can be part of your existing homeowners policy.
Flood insurance, generally covers water coming into your home from off of your property. Hurricane insurance is for wind damage, not flooding, from a storm over 74 mph, ie a hurricane.Does insurance cover storm surge? ›
Standard insurance policies do not cover flooding, including storm surge flooding, but flood insurance is available for homeowners, renters, and business owners through the National Flood Insurance Program (www.floodsmart.gov).What part of Florida is below sea level? ›
The perception that the State of Florida is just a few feet above sea level is simply wrong. There are of course some very important parts of the state that are three feet or less above sea level – approximately a meter. Most of greater Miami, the Florida Keys, and Fort Lauderdale are in that highly vulnerable zone.What part of Florida is above sea level? ›
Although Florida is relatively flat, there are different elevations. They range from 0 to 320 feet above sea level. The highest elevations in the state are in the central highlands, which run down the center of the state. Florida is classified as a stable geological area.What will happen to Florida if sea levels rise? ›
Overall, sea level rise is making the odds of a South Florida flood reaching more than 4 feet above high tide, by 2050, on par with the odds of losing at Russian roulette. More than half the population of more than 100 Florida towns and cities lives on land below that 4-foot line.Where is the safest place in Florida to live? ›
- Marco Island.
- North Palm Beach.
- Cooper City.
- Naples. Nestled in the southwest corner of Florida, along the Gulf of Mexico, Naples holds the top spot for places to live in Florida. ...
- Sarasota. ...
- Melbourne. ...
- Jacksonville. ...
- Pensacola. ...
- Tampa. ...
- Fort Myers. ...
- Port St.
If you want to stay as safe as possible from hurricanes but still want to reap the benefits of being a Florida citizen, inland Florida near the northern border of Georgia is the best place to live. It is the least hurricane-prone area in Florida.Can you build in flood zone A in Florida? ›
Flood-proofing is acceptable for non-residential buildings in AE and A Zones. Buildings must be flood-proofed a minimum of 2' above the BFE. Building Elevation compliance must be documented by submitting an Elevation Certificate (FEMA Form 81-31) at three stages during the construction process.What is the safest flood zone? ›
Flood zone X, also known as flood zone X500, is arguably the safest flood zone designation, as it's considered to be outside the 500-year floodplain and is also protected by a flood control system, such as a levee or dam, from the 100-year floodplain.
Flood insurance in Florida's SFHAs
In particular, AE flood zones or any zone designated by the letters A or V have a 1% chance of flooding annually. If you live in an AE zone and have a federally backed mortgage, you are required to purchase flood insurance.
Overall, sea level rise is making the odds of a South Florida flood reaching more than 4 feet above high tide, by 2050, on par with the odds of losing at Russian roulette. More than half the population of more than 100 Florida towns and cities lives on land below that 4-foot line.Why is Florida under sea level? ›
Portions of the Florida peninsula have been above or below sea level at least four times. As glaciers of ice in the north expanded and melted, the Florida peninsula emerged and submerged. When the sea level was lowest, the land area of Florida was much larger than it is now.Is Tampa flooded? ›
No Flooding. Residents can expect nuisance flooding of roads with poor drainage.Does Florida have flash floods? ›
Flash floods can happen in Florida, especially in slow-moving tropical storms or hurricanes. Florida is not immune to flash floods at all but they tend to be much less frequent than other areas in the United States.What will happen to Florida in 2030? ›
Florida is now the third most populous state and by 2030, 26 million Floridians will call Florida home; 1.62 million net new jobs will be needed to accommodate expected population growth.Is Florida sinking or is the ocean rising? ›
In the last decade, the speed at which Florida's sea level is rising has increased and is now rising by as much as 1 inch every 3 years. Around Miami, it took around 31 years for the sea level to rise by 6 inches. Scientists now forecast that in just the next 15 years, the sea level will have risen by another 6 inches.Is Florida a good place to live? ›
Every day, the Sunshine State attracts hundreds of newcomers to its sandy shores – and it's not hard to see why. No state income tax, sunny weather, its diverse population, delectable food and exciting attractions make it a particularly interesting place to live.What parts of Florida will be affected by sea level rise? ›
Findings show Florida areas such as Port Canaveral, St. Petersburg and Clearwater are expected to experience a rise in sea level by nearly a foot in the next two decades. By 2050, the sea level is forecast to have risen by 18 inches.How far inland will storm surge go? ›
Storm surges have been known to go 25 miles inland, submerging cars and flooding houses in its path. There is nothing we can do to prevent hurricanes from forming year after year, but there is a lot we can do to reduce or even prevent the damage they cause.
Tampa, Florida is in USDA Hardiness Zones 9b and 10a.What are the flood zones? ›
Flood zones are indicated in a community's flood map. Each flood zone describes the flood risk for a particular area, and those flood zones are used to determine insurance requirements and costs. Know your property's flood risk.How do you know if a flood is coming? ›
Common warning signs include intense rainfall, dam or levee failure as well as other events such as slow moving tropical storms and early snow melt can all contribute to flooding, whether you live in a flood zone or not.How do floods go away? ›
Most cities have sewer systems which drain rainwater to a dumping area — usually a river or the ocean. Some cities, such as Houston, have flood control channels deliberately built to help drain floodwaters away from populated areas.How long do flash floods last? ›
Flash flooding occurs within 6 hours of the rain event. Flooding is a longer term event and may last a week or more. Flooding along rivers is a natural and inevitable part of life. Some floods occur seasonally when winter or spring rains, coupled with melting snows, fill river basins with too much water, too quickly.