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Evacuations begin in Southwest Florida as Ian approaches

ian gas fueling charlotte county tuesday
Posted at 7:05 AM, Sep 27, 2022

What to Know:

  • Officials expect landfall to take place in the Venice area by early Thursday
  • Mandatory evacuations in place in Zones A & B of Lee County; Zone A of Charlotte County under evacuation order
  • Marco Island issues mandatory evacuation order
  • Storm surge, flooding remain primary threats to most of Southwest Florida

Tuesday morning sees Southwest Florida met with drizzle and breezy conditions as the 'calm before the storm' begins to end.

Hurricane Ian made its first landfall early Tuesday in Cuba at Category 3 strength. It is expected to reach Category 4 winds but lose power slightly, coming back into Category 3 territory before an expected landfall in the Tampa Bay area Thursday.

Kevin Guthrie, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, said Tuesday morning's statewide briefing that new data suggests Ian's landfall will be near the Venice area.

Gov. Ron DeSantis reiterated at the briefing that storm surge and flooding potential upon Southwest Florida is "significantly greater" than that caused by Hurricane Charley in 2004.

Charley was a smaller storm compared with Ian, the governor reminded the public.

"If you're under an evacuation order, evacuate to higher ground," DeSantis said. "Be in a structure that will be able to withstand the hurricane's winds."

The governor again assured the public that state agencies, utility companies, and the National Guard are prepared for a quick response after Ian hits. "There's going to be interruptions," he said, regarding communications, fuel, and power. "Safety is paramount; [crews will be out] as soon as possible."

If you are in need of emergency hotel accommodations, click here. The FDEM has activated its State Assistance Information Line: 1-800-342-3557.

Dozens of cars could be seen in Punta Gorda Tuesday morning as residents began to evacuate. Charlotte County emergency officials issued orders for residents in Zones A & B plus portions of C to clear out in advance of Ian. Anyone living in a mobile or manufactured home in the county is urged to evacuate.

The county's four public shelters are now open:

  • Liberty Elementary School (370 Atwater)
  • Neil Armstrong Elementary School (22100 Breezeswept)
  • Kingsway Elementary school (23300 Quasar)
  • Harold Avenue Regional Park Recreation Center (23400 Harold)

Lee County also activated Zone A and Zone B evacuations at a pair of briefings made Tuesday morning. In addition, 14 "select shelters" have been ordered to open:

  • East Lee County High School (715 Thomas Sherwin)
  • Island Coast High School (2125 Denavarra)
  • Varsity Lakes Middle School (801 Gunnery Road North)
  • South Fort Myers High School (14020 Plantation)
  • Oak Hammock Middle School (5321 Tice)
  • Dunbar High School (3800 Edison Ave)
  • Gateway High School (12320 Griffin)
  • Veterans Park Recreation Center (49 Homestead Road S)
  • Estero Recreation Center (9200 Corkscrew Palms)
  • Hertz Arena (11000 Everblades Parkway)
  • Harns Marsh Middle School (1820 Unice Avenue N)
  • Manatee Elementary (5301 Tice Street)
  • Tortuga Preserve Elementary (1711 Gunnery Road N)
  • Treeline Elementary School (10900 Treeline Ave)

Collier County has begun voluntary evacuations in areas living west and south of U.S. Highway 41/Tamiami Trail, in low-lying flood-prone areas, and mobile homes. The county will activate its Special Needs shelter at 5 p.m.; those with family members with special needs pre-registered for access to these facilities. Families need to ensure a caregiver is present and has packed ID, personal care products, necessary medical equipment and a three-day supply (minimum) of medications.

Marco Island issued a mandatory evacuation today around 3 p.m. The city is expecting a storm surge between 6-9 feet, which is a potential threat to life and property.

In addition, Collier County will open these voluntary public shelters:

  • Oak Ridge Middle School (14975 Collier Blvd)
  • Corkscrew Middle School (1165 Oil Well Road)
  • Golden Gate Middle School (2701 48th Terrace SW)
  • Immokalee Middle School (401 North 9th Street)
  • Palmetto Ridge High School / Special Needs Shelter - Pet-friendly (special needs only) (1655 Victory Ln)

In DeSoto County, the following locations will open at 2 p.m.:

  • Special Needs: South Florida State College (2251 NE Turner Ave., #2700) — bring all necessary medical equipment and medicine. Pets will be boarded; bring proof of animal vaccinations
  • General Population: Turner Center (2250 NE Roan) — pets are allowed but will be boarded separately; must have proof of animal vaccination, pets must be leashed, bring your own pet food/bedding

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno urged residents to stay off the roadways as the storm intensifies; law enforcement agencies will pull forces off the roads once sustained winds reach a certain point (40-45 mph and higher).

The Lee County Sheriff's Office authorized its Homeless Outreach Team to provide resources and advise people about places to shelter as the storm approaches.

Venice Police announced evacuation zones A and B for their area.

Tropical storm-to-hurricane-force winds are expected, prompting tropical storm and hurricane warnings along the coastlines.

Flood warnings are already in effect for Southwest Florida. Storm surge caused by the hurricane will also be expected.

Click here for the latest from the Fox 4 weather team and be sure to Know Your Zone for possible evacuation.