Hundreds of people have been rescued from flooded homes following the passage of Hurricane Ian in Florida, USA. As many as 27 fatalities have been reported as search and rescue teams continue to look for those unaccounted for.
Some ports, airports and rail services are still closed and roads have been closed in at least 70 locations. Around 1.6 million people are still without power and Boil Water Notices have been issued for 47 areas.
Massive storm surge from Hurricane Ian caused severe flooding along Florida’s southwestern Gulf Coast including Fort Myers, Naples and Port Charlotte.
There were numerous reports of people trapped in their homes. Search and rescue operations involving National Guard and the Coast Guard helicopters began early on 29 September. Within a few hours over 700 people had been rescued in Charlotte and Lee counties.
Heavy rain caused rivers to overflow as Hurricane Ian moved across the state. Some coastal flooding from storm surge was reported in eastern and northeastern areas of Florida including Jacksonville.
As of 30 September there were 1.6 million people in Florida still without power. Boil Water Notices have been issued for 47 areas in around 12 counties. Airports, ports and rail services have all been suspended and major roads closed in around 70 locations.
Many residents fled the state after mandatory and voluntary evacuations notices were issued across 17 counties before the storm hit. As of 01 October the Federal Emergency Management Agency said 95 shelters had been opened and were housing 10,054 people from the storm. Around 8,500 patients from 200 health care facilities have been evacuated, Florida state government said.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis travelled to Fort Myers, Seminole County, and St. Augustine to survey impacted areas and meet with storm victims on 30 September.
Record Storm Surge
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s tide monitoring gauge at Fort Myers showed tide levels surged to 7.22 feet (2.20 metres) MHHW (Mean Higher High Water) on 28 September. This is more than twice the previous record high of 3.36 feet (1.02 metres) set on 14 September 2001 during Tropical Hurricane Gabrielle.
Storm surge and heavy rain caused rivers to overflow in southwestern parts of the state. Sarasota-Bradenton recorded 133.9 mm of rain in 24 hours to 29 September.
As Hurricane Ian moved across the state the storm dumped torrential rainfall in central and then northeastern Florida.
In a 24 hour period to 29 September the measuring station at Orlando recorded 317.2 mm of rain and Orlando-Sanford 352.6 mm, with 96.6 mm of that total falling in just 2 hours. Cape Canaveral recorded 187.7 mm of rain and St. Augustine 96.5 mm on 29 September. The following day Daytona Beach recorded 100.6 mm.
Record River Levels
As of late 29 September rivers were above Major Flood Stage in 17 locations. Several rivers reached record high levels including Peace River at Zolfo Springs in Hardee County; Little Wekiva River near Altamonte Springs in Seminole County; St. Johns River at Astor, Lake County; and the Myakka River at Myakka River State Park.
As of 01 October 2022 rivers were still above the Major Flood Stage in 11 locations.
Shingle Creek at Campbell, Florida, USA. Image: NOAA