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Hurricane Ian questions: How to request wellness check, status of bridges and more
'We prayed a lot': North Port retiree community ripped apart by Ian
'I'm in shock': Venice residents react to Hurricane Ian damage
Hurricane Ian's "catastrophic mark": Over 291,000 without power in Sarasota, Manatee County
5:00 p.m. | Sarasota County attributes two deaths to Hurricane Ian, no details available
Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Kaitlyn Perez said that there have been two deaths related to Hurricane Ian in Sarasota County.
The Sheriff's Office would not release any details about the deaths at this time.
4:00 p.m. | Damage at Sarasota-Bradenton Airport, flights to resume
SRQ Aiport Authority President and CEO Rick Piccolo assessed the moderate water damage to a 100-foot section of the main terminal's ticketing area, caused when part of the roof came off during the height of Hurricane Ian's impact on the area.
After 12 hours of rain, the decision was made to remove heavy wooden ceiling tiles that were becoming damaged and dislodged.
"The problem was the wooden tiles were so heavy we could not risk those falling on people," he said. "So we had to take them out and let the water in, get this place cleaned up, and get this place operational by Friday."
According to Piccolo, the first flights in and out of Sarasota will begin on Saturday.
3:00 p.m. | In this North Port community, hundreds of homes were destroyed by Hurricane Ian
George and Sharon Fink weathered Hurricane Ian in their manufactured home in North Port, only to realize Thursday morning that their house was one of few spared by the Category 4 storm that tore through the community.
The Fink’s live in Holiday Park, a retiree community in North Port with 836 manufactured homes that was devastated on Wednesday by winds that topped 100 miles per hour. Hundreds of homes were destroyed, but theirs stood tall on Thursday morning.
“The noise was horrendous,” Sharon, 74, said. “The noise reminded me of being at a stock car race, and the engines are reving. That is what the wind sounded like. The roar from the stock cars, that’s what it sounded like. It was nonstop, wind just blowing and blowing. It was like that for like 8 hours.”
Many of the homes were built in the 1970s, but the couple purchased a new model built by Jacobson about 6 years ago meant to withstand hurricane-force winds. The couple said law enforcement asked residents of the park to evacuate, but they decided to stay because of the confidence in the integrity of their home.
“That aluminum sound is the biggest noise, because its light, it takes off like a plane, then when it hits, it hits,” George, 82, said. “I really think it was exciting, because I would look out the windows and see a part of a roof just blowing past.”
Much of that debris from the community littered Chancellor Boulevard Thursday morning, where residential homeowners cleaned rooftops, metal slabs, downed power lines, glass and rubble from their front yard.
“A piece of metal struck right through my roof like a spear, I was getting water in my living room, in one of the bedrooms the ceiling fell down onto the bed, the roof is peeled back, the fence is down,” said Richard Sylva, who took shelter inside his home with his wife Donna, his dogs Lexi and Venzie, and a cat whose name he could no longer remember.
He had not slept since Wednesday night. The remains of one of the mobile homes, destroyed but intact, blocked traffic in the middle of the road just a dozen feet from his yard.
“I was looking out through the garage, I knew the mobile homes were going to go because when we had Charlie a lot of them were popping like popcorn because of the pressure, it was lifting the roofs right off their houses,” Sylva said.
“We were lucky. We didn't get damage at that time. This storm here was so much more intense. It hung around for so long. Charlie was like a 45-minute deal, this was hours of wind. The wind had to be, I'm guessing, over 100 miles an hour. Easy.”
“There's a whole trailer in the middle of the road, it was scary," Sylva said. "We prayed a lot."
His neighbor, Ron Smart, 82, watched much of the hurricane from his backyard. He has lived in the community for 42 years, and 11 years in his current home on Chancellor Boulevard.
He had nowhere else to go.
“I sat there and watched my shed blow apart, the roof fly off the other one, and all this stuff fly around,” Smart said. “The worst of the wind was coming out of the east when it first started, then it shifted around and that’s when all this damage happened. I stayed in the back because I was out of the wind.”
“I consider myself lucky, there’s a lot of people around that have a lot worse damage than I have,” he said. “I have a lot of damage but it’s still liveable.”
2:45 p.m. | Manatee County reports no deaths, some damage many roads cleared
Chairman of the Manatee County Commission Kevin Van Ostenbridge reported that there have been no deaths connected with Hurricane Ian during a Thursday afternoon news conference.
As the county continues its recovery efforts – rapidly deploying recovery resources, First-In Teams, damage assessment crews and inspection teams – they are reporting minimal damage, Van Ostenbridge said.
One home has been destroyed, 20 have sustained major damage and 40 others have sustained some damage, said Steve Litschauer, deputy director of safety. Van Ostenbridge said that Myakka was the hardest hit in the county, with three families needing to be rescued from rising flood waters. No other injuries are being reported from the storm.
Van Ostenbridge added that EMS is responding to 9-1-1 calls and have cleared the two-hour queue that accumulated when the system was down.
Most of the main roads in Manatee County have been cleared, with crews now working to clear some of the secondary roads.
Inspections of special needs homes are a top priority, as is restoring power to intersection signals, Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key, hospitals and schools. Florida Power & Light has restored power to some 40,000 customers in the county, Van Ostenbridge said.
He reminded residents if they find themselves at an intersection where the light is down or not working, to treat it like a four-way stop. There have been reports of people speeding through these intersections, creating dangerous driving conditions for others.
“If you are out of power, it is likely that your neighborhood lift station is also out of power,” Van Ostenbridge, adding that it makes it more difficult to move wastewater to the wastewater treatment plant. Residents are again urged to limit water usage, being cognizant of how frequent they take showers, flush the toilet, wash the dishes, etc.
The Lena Road Landfill will have extended hours until 6 p.m. starting on Monday, Oct. 3, Van Ostenbridge said. Tipping fees will be waived for storm debris for residents, however, residents should expect longer lines.
Garbage and recycling pick-up will resume Monday as well. Van Ostenbridge asked residents to separate normal trash from storm debris, which will be picked up by third party vendors.
Manatee Lake and its dam are in good condition, with water levels remaining stable, Van Ostenbridge said.
1:45 p.m. | When will schools reopen in Sarasota and Manatee counties?
Mike Barber, Manatee County School District spokesperson, said the district is planning to open schools Monday, but is waiting on crews to go in and assess damage first.
The district will know for sure either later Thursday or early Friday and an official announcement will follow, Barber said.
On Wednesday, the Sarasota County School District announced schools would be closed until Friday. District spokespeople Craig Maniglia and Kelsey Whealy were not immediately available for comment Thursday afternoon.
1:25 p.m. | See which areas of Sarasota-Manatee have boil water notices
As water service comes back online after Hurricane Ian, especially on the barrier islands, municipalities often have to institute boil water notices because of possible contamination.
Current areas in Sarasota and Manatee counties under a boil water notice are:
City of North Port and areas served by North Port utilities
All barrier islands, including Island of Venice
Any other areas where water service was lost, then restored
Usually, notices last for 72 hours.
"Florida law requires that drinking water providers issue precautionary boil water advisories to customers affected by pressure losses in water mains," says the Sarasota County website.
"While the advisory is in effect, the county advises you to boil all tap water intended for drinking, preparation of food, washing of food utensils or for first aid. To disinfect your water and destroy any harmful microorganisms, please bring your water to a rolling boil for 1 minute."
1:10 p.m. | 67% of Sarasota County still without power, according to FPL
As of 1:00 p.m. Thursday, 192,360 FPL customers are out of power in Sarasota County. Out of a customer base of over 287,000, this is about 67% without power.
In Manatee County, 98,930 customers are out of power, about 49.8% of FPL's entire customer base in the county — 198,710. This figure is slightly higher than it was this morning.
"Ian left a catastrophic mark," Jack Eble, an FPL spokesperson said in a phone call. "Today is a major opportunity to do damage assessment, particularly in SWFL."
The hardest hit areas, such as North Port, Charlotte and Lee County, may need to have entirely rebuilt energy grids, according to Eble. No specific damage assessment is yet available, but he said that customers in those communities can expect extended outages.
– Stefania Lugli
1:05 p.m. | Verizon offers unlimited data, text and calls in Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties
Verizon said Thursday that Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte were among the Florida counties where its network was hit especially hard by Hurricane Ian. Engineers and technicians are now assessing damage, prioritizing assistance for first responders, emergency operation centers, and search and rescue efforts early Thursday.
Prepaid and postpaid Verizon customers in numerous Florida counties, including Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte, will receive unlimited calling, texting and data through Oct. 4. Customers do not have to take any action to take advantage of the offer, and can verify their eligibility by entering their zip code at verizon.com/featured/relief.
– Jimmy Geurts
1:00 p.m. | Sarasota Memorial Health Care reopens Urgent Care Centers
Sarasota Memorial announced that its urgent care centers at Heritage Harbour, University Parkway, Bee Ridge and Venice would open at 1 p.m. today.
"Due to damage from Hurricane Ian, Sarasota Memorial’s freestanding North Port Emergency Room is temporarily unable to see patients," said a release. "We hope to be up and running as soon as possible at this location. The Emergency Care Centers at the Sarasota Memorial Hospital -Sarasota Campus and Sarasota Memorial Hospital-Venice Campus both remain operational."
12:50 p.m. | Tampa International Airport will resume flights on Friday
Tampa International Airport (TPA) announced that it would resume normal operations on Friday morning at 10 a.m.
"Airport maintenance and operations staff inspected the airfield and facilities this morning and determined TPA did not sustain any serious damage during the storm," read a release.
Passengers should check with individual airlines to learn which flights will be available.
"Friday’s 10 a.m. reopening for departing and arriving flights will give the Airport and its partners such as the FAA, the TSA, airlines, and others time to take necessary steps for the safe resumption of business. Among them, bringing back aircraft that had to be removed ahead of the hurricane, as well as required staff," said the release.
12:35 p.m. | Bridges have opened to Lido and Siesta Keys in Sarasota
The City of Sarasota announced in a tweet that the John Ringling Causeway to Bird Key and Lido Key are now open for residents and business owners with valid ID. Siesta Key bridges have also reopened.
"Water & sewer services have NOT been restored yet. Please be aware and plan accordingly," said the tweet.
12:30 p.m. | Curfew and boil-water notice in effect in North Port
The City of North Port has announced a curfew in effect from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., with an exception for work commutes. There is also a boil water notice in effect due to a water main broken during Hurricane Ian.
The city is also working to open up an connection with the Peace River Water Supply Authority as part of a plan to increase water pressure and return service to those without water.
12:20 p.m. | Venice residents react to damage from Hurricane Ian
Bob and Mary Kuziel walked downtown Venice on Tampa Avenue searching for cell or internet Thursday morning.
The Venice residents had weathered the storm in their condo on the ground floor of the nine-story Costa Brava condo building.
Bob Kuziel said they watched the rain come in sideways over Roberts Bay.
"We're trying to get in touch with people to let them know we are okay," Mary Kuziel said.
Instead, they found Venice Theatre devastated by Hurricane Ian. The near-Category 5 storm had ripped through the local landmark just over the north bridge to the island of Venice.
Venice Municipal Airport, about half-mile from the mobile home park, had severe damage to several hangers.
"I lost two planes," Andre Ghawi said. "They were in the hanger. The hanger doesn't exist anymore. You don't figure on something like this happening."
Noon | Green means go in Sarasota County. There is no green.
Sarasota County has unveiled a map on its website intended to inform residents when it is safe for them to return to their neighborhoods. The map uses the following color-coded system:
Red: It is unsafe and emergency services may not be available. There is extensive damage limiting travel, and access is limited to residents and business owners.
Yellow: Power is out and trees and power lines are down. Traffic lights may be out and there is potential damage to drinking and wastewater. Safety precautions are required, and travel should be limited to essential needs.
Green: There are no limiting factors, and it is safe for the general public.
Here is what the current map looks like:
11:50 a.m. | North Port officials report no deaths, but damage is 'citywide'
City of North Port Mayor Pete Emrich said there have been no deaths reported due to Hurricane Ian.
Both State Rep James Buchanan and Gov Ron DeSantis “assured me that North Port is ground zero and all resources will be heading to North Port,” said Emrich. “It’s devastating out there to see the damage and it’s citywide.”
Emergency Services Manager Mike Ryan said a water main broke during the storm, prompting a boil water notice.
Ryan said the American Red Cross is opening another shelter at Woodland Middle School and the city and Sarasota County are working on a day and place to distribute tarps, water and other supplies.
11:10 a.m. | City of Sarasota says residents can return home, mainland only
The City of Sarasota announced on Twitter that "residents from Mainland City of Sarasota can return to their homes now."
For residents of the islands, Ringling Bridge will remain closed until water service is restored, which will take several hours.
10:45 a.m. | Hurricane Ian aftermath in North Port
Elizabeth Hayes watched the entirety of Hurricane Ian pass over her North Port home through a peephole in her shutters, but the longtime resident was not prepared for the devastating flooding that would inundate the community during the Category 4 storm.
Yet, she knows more floodwater is on its way.
“We’ve seen it flood, we’ve boated in and out before, but this is devastating,” Hayes said. “It’s up to my ankles, but it’s still rising. This area takes rain from the center of the state, so it’s going to still keep on flooding.”
North Port residents are using small boats, kayaks and paddle boards to inspect homes that flooded along the Myakkahatchee Creek on Thursday morning.
Hayes, 35, lives on Mandrake Terrace, just across the Myakkahatchee Creek. She hunkered down in her home with her husband, three daughters, and three of his relatives.
"I thought it would be a safe place to stay," Hayes said. "We lost power 2 nights ago. Everything was fine, but we started to realize the water levels had started rising.
“Our shed, you can only see the roof, everything else is underwater,” Hayes said. “Right now we are getting everything we can out.”
Hayes has lived in the flood-prone community for nearly 10 years, but up until last night she has never seen floodwaters inundate her home.
“It didn’t come close to our house last year, so we figured this would be similar but it was not, at all,” Hayes said. “We’ve seen a lot, but this is by far the worst we’ve ever experienced.”
“It started to come into the garage late last night, so we stayed up in increments and just watched it, watched it, watched it,” she said. “Finally this morning it started coming into the house at like 5 a.m., so we called family and asked them to bring their john boats and come get us.”
Stacey King, 45, lives in the North Cranberry Blvd. area in North Port, but his father’s home sits along one of the canals near Myakkahatchee Creek.
He inspected the neighborhood from the side of Sumter Road while his sister used a kayak to check the damage to the home.
King spent the duration of the storm sheltered with his girlfriend, but floodwaters and a damaged roof kept the couple busy through the night.
“For about 4 hours of the night we were taking water, the water was coming in and we lost half our roof, so the master bedroom and bathroom are pretty much done,” King said.
“We’ve lived here about 10 years,” King said. “We just wanted to make sure our house was safe. These houses are built with concrete, we have hurricane shutters on them, it’s better to try to be somewhere safe, which we were, but the roof fell. “
“It was a lot of hustle trying to get water out of the house. We were just focused on trying to get it out.”
10:15 a.m. | Manatee County is in "recovery mode"
Manatee County has been in recovery mode since 1 a.m. Wednesday, when teams were sent to clear a roadway at the Lakewood Ranch Medical Center and to ensure that Highway 70 is open. The county is also working on fixing lift stations, with 400 of the 700 in need of service. At 2 a.m., recovery teams were sent to repair the main lift stations and to repair backup generators for the top 200 lift stations, which provide the main infrastructure for the wastewater system.
Until further notice, Manatee County is asking residents to continue to avoid flushing and to only do so when it's totally necessary.
"We dodged a pretty significant bullet, but we have a lot of work to do," Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes said.
Hopes canceled the evacuation orders and closed of the shelters as of 8 a.m. on Thursday.
"It does not mean it's all clear," Hopes said. "It means I've taken the steps necessary to move us forward into recovery and to give people access to their homes to assess their needs, but please be cautious when you go out on the roadways."
Hopes said they are conducting search and rescue efforts in the eastern county areas and Myakka, where Hurricane Ian had more severe impacts. The Myakka River is flooding at historic levels and will continue to rise for the next two days before it begins to recede.
"This is the time when we come together as a community in unison to help our neighbors and our friends and begin the recovery process from this tremendously powerful storm," Hopes said.
He said there probably will be a boil water notice, as systems are turned on, and he asks residents to stay tuned for future announcements.
Manatee County EMS was addressing a backlog of over 50 cases in the county in need of dispatched ambulances and paramedics.
9:54 a.m. |Minimal damage in St. Pete
After thousands of people evacuated earlier this week, preparing for life-threatening storm surge, residents in St. Petersburg – once projected to be Hurricane Ian's Ground Zero, awoke Thursday to minimal damage.
Police directed traffic at intersections with broken traffic lights. Some trees had fallen, blocking roadways and taking down power lines. In Coquina Key, an island community south of downtown, a Norfolk Island pine had snapped in half, its branches scattered in a yard.
Nearby, Dale Fredrick used a chainsaw to cut branches of another downed tree blocking a roadway.
“It won’t take long,” Fredrick, 58, said. “Just little by little.”
One of the city’s lowest-lying neighborhoods, Shore Acres, escaped flooding that poured into homes two years ago during Tropical Storm Eta.
Across Pinellas County, which also includes Clearwater and a swath of smaller cities, thousands were still without power. Duke Energy reported 173,000 outages Thursday morning.
9:50 a.m. | Damage to North Port ER
An emergency room in North Port affiliated with Sarasota Memorial Hospital sustained roof damage causing water to enter the building.
Kim Savage, a hospital spokesperson, said it is unclear when the facility will reopen. A roofing company is coming to assess the damage to see if a temporary repair is possible to get the facility back open.
The staff is waiting to move two patients, one patient to an assisted living and the other to Sarasota Memorial Hospital, she said.
Most patients have been discharged and are waiting in the building for the roads to be cleared to leave.
The facility had eight patients and 50 staff locked down during the storm Wednesday night.
9:20 a.m. | Manatee County evacuation orders lifted
Manatee County announced that is rescinding evacuation orders and closing shelters.
"As winds from Hurricane Ian continue to diminish, Manatee County Public Safety and Administration are lifting the mandatory evacuation orders which have been in effect since Tuesday morning. Emergency evacuation shelters are being closed and residents are being allowed to return to their homes. However, it is not a return to normal."
“This is not an all-clear,” said Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes. “There are still hazards out there. And you need to understand the danger.”
Hopes, like officials throughout Sarasota and Manatee counties, is imploring people to remain at home while crews are at work clearing roads and restoring utilities.
9:15 a.m. | Surveying Hurricane Ian damage around Sarasota-Manatee
Patrick Novak, 63, lives in the Sherwood Forest neighborhood in Sarasota, several houses down from a home that had a tree uprooted. He said his home was spared any major damage, only screening and some tree debris in his yard. He never lost power, but did lose cell service and internet.
Novak said he’s never seen a storm like this come through the area in his 30 years here. The neighborhood was at risk for damage not only because of its proximity to water, but also the abundance of old oak trees lining the streets.
“And I think we got it mildly, compared to what I’ve seen south of us,” he said.
At about 2 a.m., he said he walked the neighborhood and there was water in the street — which has since receded.
Novak said he works outpatient physical therapy for Sarasota Memorial Hospital, but he isn’t sure when they’ll open again.
9:05 a.m. | Sarasota County Sheriff asks for help: limit water use, stay off roads
The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office said early this morning that most of the damage from Hurricane Ian is south of Venice Avenue.
“There are still several road obstructions including fallen trees and debris, standing water, and downed power lines,” the office tweeted at 5:36 a.m.
Water remains shut off to Siesta and Casey Keys, and the county anticipates that there will be disruptions in other service areas.
“For those who have water, please limit use and know that water pressure will be lower than normal,” Sarasota County asked.
The county’s Tactical First-In Teams started assessing the emergency routes for first responders at 2 a.m. and will continue until all routes are open, according to a county newsletter.
County staff are conducting damage assessments, too.
“Our teams are evaluating our county infrastructure including water and wastewater systems,” Sarasota County stated.
The county is telling residents to stay off the roadways until after they have been notified by local officials that the roads are clear.
– Anne Snabes
9:00 a.m. | Sarasota Police Chief asks people to stay off the roads
In a tweet, the Sarasota Police Department is asking people to stay home due to downed trees and power lines throughout the City of Sarasota and reminds people that bridges to the barrier islands are still closed until water service has been restored.
Also, Fruitville Road near Beneva Road in Sarasota is closed due to a tree across the roadway. and power lines are down on both sides of the road.
8:30 a.m. | North Port Emergency Room temporarily closed
Sarasota Memorial said in a tweet its North Port Emergency Room is temporarily unable to see patients, due to damage from Hurricane Ian. The Emergency Care Centers at the SMH-Sarasota and SMH-Venice remain operational, it said.
8:20 a.m. | Sarasota teams will begin damage assessments
The city of Sarasota said in a 7:49 a.m. tweet that their response teams were awake and “grabbing a bite” before heading out to conduct damage assessments. The city’s Tactical First In Team conducted a brief survey overnight.
“Everyone is encouraged to remain inside in a safe location due to possible downed trees and power lines,” the city tweeted.
Our teams are up & grabbing a bite before heading out to conduct damage assessments. The Tactical First In Team conducted a brief survey during the overnight. Everyone is encouraged to remain inside in a safe location due to possible downed trees and power lines. pic.twitter.com/88a7VqqxCS
— City of Sarasota (@CityofSarasota) September 29, 2022
8:18 a.m. | City of Venice restores potable water service
The City of Venice Utilities Department has restored potable water service to the island of Venice.
Island residents are required to boil water, or use bottled water, for consumption purposes (drinking, cooking, brushing teeth) until the boil water advisory has been rescinded after a minimum of 72 hours. Residents will be notified via the Alert Sarasota County phone notification system.
Utilities customers are encouraged to continue to conserve water if possible.
The advisory will be posted on the City website, www.venicegov.com.
For more information, please call the Venice Utilities Department at 941-480-3333.
8:06 a.m. | Multiple homes damaged in Venice community
Multiple mobile homes on North Waterway in Country Club Estates in Venice were damaged in an early Thursday morning fire after Hurricane Ian. The fire was called in shortly after midnight. Venice Fire Rescue, Venice Police, Venice Public Works, Sarasota County Fire and Nokomis Fire were able to respond. The blaze was under control at 2:50 a.m. No injuries have been reported.
This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Live Updates: Sarasota, Manatee begin Hurricane Ian recovery