Tropical Storm Ian Pummels Florida: Live Updates – CNN

1 hr 8 min ago”We were incredibly hard hit”: Lee County sheriff says on the impact of Hurricane IanFrom CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Florida’s Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno told CNN that the county was hit “incredibly hard” by Hurricane Ian.

“We were incredibly hard hit. It came in as a strong, strong Cat 4, just a couple of miles an hour under a Cat 5,” Marceno said. “Today was the first day we were able to get back out and assess and begin that process.”

He continued, “I just literally got out of a helicopter where I was able to take a complete tour of the entire county and there’s really no words that I can say to tell you what I’ve seen.”

Marceno added, “The Fort Myers Beach area, buildings, major, major homes and buildings completely washed away with vehicles in the water, vehicles in the bay, boats are upside down.”

He said that while there is no definitive number on how many people remain unaccounted for, all hands are on deck, and they are responding to every location where there are people in need.

1 hr 9 min agoMore than 5,000 National Guard members from multiple states are ready to help communities impacted by IanFrom CNN’s Ellie Kaufman

More than 5,000 National Guardsmen from multiple states are positioned to assist communities that have been impacted by Hurricane Ian in southwest and central Florida, according to a release from the National Guard.

National Guard members from Florida, Louisiana, New York and Tennessee are “standing by to provide direct support in the wake of the catastrophic storm,” Chief of the National Guard Bureau Gen. Daniel Hokanson said in the release. Tennessee National Guard mobilized about 1,200 Guard members to be sent to Florida, the release said. 

Guardsmen from Georgia, Indiana, New Jersey, South Carolina, Montana and Virginia are also “on the way” to help, the release added.

The Guard is “working closely with local authorities to ensure the right people and equipment’ are in the right place “to maximize impact,” Hokanson said.

Sixteen helicopters, 1,640 high-wheeled vehicles, seven boats, 36 fuel tankers and generators are positioned in the state ready to help “conduct search and rescue operations, clear roads, and support law enforcement,” according to the release.

1 hr 13 min agoBiden: US government will cover 100% of the cost of Florida’s emergency response efforts after Ian (Evan Vucci/AP)President Biden said the federal government will cover 100% of the cost that the state of Florida incurs for its emergency response efforts related to Hurricane Ian.

Biden noted that he approved GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis’ request for expedited major disaster declaration during his remarks from FEMA headquarters in Washington, DC, Thursday.

“First thing this morning, I talked to Gov. Desantis and again offered the fullest federal support. Earlier this week I approved his request for the pre-landfall emergency declaration to provide direct federal assistance to the state, for emergency protective measures to save lives, including search and rescue and shelter and food. Earlier this morning I approved the governor’s most recent request for expedited major disaster declaration,” Biden said.

He continued, “That means the federal government will cover 100% of the cost to clear debris and for all the costs the state has to engage in and expend to save lives. The federal government will also cover the majority of the cost of rebuilding public buildings like schools and state fire stations.” 1 hr 14 min agoBiden: “This could be the deadliest hurricane in Florida’s history” (Evan Vucci/AP)President Joe Biden spoke Thursday about the havoc that Hurricane Ian wrecked in Florida after it made landfall on Wednesday.

“It is still moving across the state today. This could be the deadliest hurricane in Florida’s history. The numbers are still unclear but we are hearing early reports of what may be substantial loss of life,” he said while speaking from the FEMA headquarters in Washington, DC. Biden said he spoke to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, mayors and the commissioner, who, he said, are worried, but the President commended them for the “incredible” jobs they’re doing to “save their cities, their towns” and their infrastructure.

Biden also issued a message for Floridians.

“My message to people in Florida, at times like this: America comes together. We’re going to pull together as one team, as one America,” he said.

1 hr 32 min agoNOW: President Biden speaks in the aftermath of IanPresident Biden is delivering remarks as Florida is reeling in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.

Devastation in some parts is impeding the restoration and recovery work.

1 hr 27 min agoDrone video from Cape Coral shows homes surrounded by flooding Water engulfs entire neighborhoods in Cape Coral after Hurricane Ian pummeled Florida’s southwestern coast on Wednesday into Thursday, CNN Air drone video shows.

Emergency teams also conducted rescues.

Watch it here:

1 hr 27 min ago2 Sarasota bridges reopened to barrier islands, city says From CNN’s Amanda Watts

Two bridges in the city of Sarasota, Florida, have opened to the barrier islands, according to the city’s social media.

“The John Ringling Causeway and Siesta bridges are now open. Ringling Bridge access is limited to residents and business owners with identification,” the post said.The city noted that water and sewer service have not been restored and residents should plan accordingly.

Residents in mainland Sarasota are now allowed to return to their homes after the devastation of Hurricane Ian, the city posted in another Facebook.

Sarasota Police posted a photo showing a long lines of cars waiting to get to the islands. 

The county said they are using a Red/Yellow/Green level system to inform residents about the conditions across the area. Red areas are “unsafe” and have suffered “extensive damage limiting travel.” Yellow areas do not have power and have damage and debris. Green areas are considered safe for the general public. 

The map shows Sarasota County split with the north half in yellow and the south half in red. No area of the county is currently green.

View the map here:

1 hr 40 min agoAt least 3 dead in Cuba from Hurricane Ian, state-run website reportsFrom CNN’s Patrick Oppmann from Havana

Cuban officials on Thursday raised the number of dead from Hurricane Ian to three people, the state-run website Cubadebate reported.

Previously, Cuban officials had said two people died during the storm as it made landfall in Cuba. 

There was no further information provided on how the third victim died. 

Although Cuban officials said they had begun to restore power knocked out in Cuba by Ian, large swathes of the island remained without electricity.

2 hr 2 min agoOn the ground: Chunks of sea wall seen strewn across streets of downtown Fort MyersAs Fort Myers reels in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, huge chunks of sea wall and other debris can be seen on the streets after the flooding subsided from the downtown area.

“We are a few blocks off the water. So that’s how far this traveled … in the water. And you can imagine the force that it would have taken for this kind of piece of stone to move,” CNN correspondent Randi Kaye said as she came across several chunks of the sea wall that were waist-high and sometimes, even bigger.

Take a look at the devastation in downtown Fort Myers: