Heavy flash flooding was reported in parts of Orlando and Kissimmee in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian's passage, washing out a portion of the Florida Turnpike and major roadways near tourist attractions like Universal Studios. Recovery rescue operations continued Thursday.
There were reports from the Florida Highway Patrol of airboat rescues of residents in flooded-out neighborhood along Simpson Road in Kissimmee. Orange County sheriff's deputies were also helping to remove residents from the water-logged Orlo Vista community off West Colonial Drive in Orlando.
"The whole neighborhood is flooded. We are working on getting to the residents right now. The Florida Wildlife Commission is using its airboats," said Tara Crescenzi, spokesperson for the highway patrol.
Orlando Mayor Jerry Demings also reminded residents to shelter in place and avoid traveling as flooding continued and damage assessments get underway.
Residents and law enforcement posted images on social media showing flooding along several major roadways, including Colonial and Primrose Drives, Semoran Boulevard and Lake Underhill Road, and South Blossom Trail. Significant flooding was reported along the Florida Turnpike — the north-south traffic corridor — was covered in at least four feet of water along its lanes near mile marker 254 in Orange County.
"There's just a lot of flooding and that's an extreme amount of water because the Turnpike doesn't typically flood like that," Crescenzi said, adding that first responders are working together to clear the area and help residents.
The Central Florida service plazas remain closed in the area, the Florida Highway Patrol reported Thursday.
At least two to three more inches of rain were anticipated for Orlando and Kissimmee for Thursday night.
The National Weather Service had issued flash flood warnings overnight for Orlando and parts of Kissimmee. Orlando County Fire Rescue crews braved the water and wind to remove residents from the Avante at Orlando nursing home off Semoran Boulevard. Firefighters, called as flood waters began to rise around the facility, posted a video showing paramedics in raincoats sloshing through ankle-high water pushing patients on gurneys toward waiting buses.
The residents were then taken to a special needs shelter, city officials reported.
The flooding also hit the on-ramp for Interstate 4 from Ivanhoe Boulevard. Lake Eola also reportedly overflowed its banks and into the surrounding city park. Orlando police were seen patrolling the area, riding through the water in jeeps.
Orlando International Airport, one of the nation's busiest, remains closed.
“Commercial operations are expected to resume sometime Friday, pending on damage (assessments),” airport officials tweeted early Thursday.
This article originally appeared on Florida Today: Heavy flooding hits Orlando, Kissimmee areas from Hurricane Ian