This is a live news blog with information about the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Southwest Florida Our reporters and photographers are spread out across Southwest Florida covering our communities and providing the latest information.
9:40 p.m. 20 people left on Sanibel, hundreds evacuated
Sanibel City Manager Dana Souza said Sunday night that he knows about 20 people remain on the island but can't be certain of the actual number.
Evacuations have continued on the fourth day after Hurricane Ian slammed the island with 8 to 15 foot storm surges and 150 mph winds.
He updated the number of evacuations Saturday to 250 people and 150 people on Sunday.
There had been 200 to 300 homesteads that reported sheltering in place.
The number of confirmed deaths remains at four people; no change since Friday's announcement.
7:30 p.m. | Lee up to 42 deaths, Collier with 3
Florida District Medical Examiners report hurricane deaths to the Medical Examiners Commission (MEC) following autopsy after confirming the death is storm-related. FDLE staffs the Florida Medical Examiners Commission.
There are now 58 deaths attributed to Hurricane Ian confirmed by the MEC from the counties below.
Collier – 3
Hendry – 1
Hillsborough – 1
Lake – 1
Lee – 42
Manatee – 2
Sarasota – 3
Volusia – 5
7:25 p.m. | Cape Coral expects 95% power restoration by Saturday
City of Cape Coral and Lee County Electric Cooperative officials said they expect 95% of customers to have power back by Saturday during a press conference Sunday.
Melissa Mickey, communications manager for Cape Coral, said LCEC restored power to about 5,000 residents — about 5%.
"We're gonna see progress more quickly now from here," said Denise Vidal, chief executive officer at LCEC. "Importantly, the hospital's been energized as you know."
5:50 p.m. | Bonita Springs keeping eye on river
The Imperial River is rising, and City of Bonita Springs officials say they’re keeping a close eye on it.
Bonita residents should do the same, says the city's deputy mayor, Mike Gibson.
“The city is currently monitoring the river slowly rising,” Gibson said during a Facebook Live press conference about Hurricane Ian on Sunday afternoon. "We’d like to advise residents near rivers and canals to keep an eye on the water levels.
5:30 p.m. | Lee Co. residents can get replacement IDs, titles
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is bringing two units called FLOW (Florida Licensing on Wheels) Mobiles to Lee County. These mobile units will provide residents with replacement driver's license, identification cards, and titles. All fees will be waived, and no documents are necessary to issue replacements.
The FLOW Mobiles will be stationed at Hertz Arena (11000 Everblades Parkway, Estero, Florida 33928) starting Monday. Hours on Monday will be from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Starting Tuesday, hours will be 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., seven days a week.
The FLOW Mobile also offers critical safety services such as emergency contact information registration.
5:10 p.m. | FGCU sets up call center to aid students, staff
Although the FGCU campus did not suffer much from Hurricane Ian, the same cannot be said for its students and faculty.
The university has had trouble locating and contacting its staff and students because of limited or no WiFi or cell connections. It posted a questionnaire on its website for people to check on Thursday after the storm, but not many did.
On Friday, the university launched a virtual call center — the FGCU Storm Recovery Call Center — to allow people to check-in. The thought was a call would be easier than an email or online form. The response was greater than expected and more staff had to be added to the call center to address the volume.
4:40 p.m. | Pine Island and Matlacha evacuations
A massive effort to evacuate residents still on Pine Island and Matlacha began in earnest Sunday with a coordinated operation that supplied departures by air, by sea and by land.
Those who left did so grudgingly, wondering how if so many resources could be marshaled to force them to leave, why couldn’t a similar amount be mustered to allow them to stay?
There are also plenty who plan to remain, defiant in the face of dire warnings that life is unsustainable.
“There’s only one way they’re getting me off this island and that’s by dragging my dead carcass out of here,” Bokeelia resident Damian Minko Jr., 43, said.
Many Pine Island residents feel like their homes, their businesses, their belongings and their way of life will be threatened if they evacuate.
“They want to get rid of all of us and turn this into a rich people’s paradise. Bulldoze it all and make it all like a golf-coursey perfect world,” said John Bauer, 70, who has lived on Pine Island 22 years. “It’s a fishing village. We’d like to keep it the way it was. There ain’t much of old Florida left and this was a tiny speck of it.”
One piece of good news emerged late Sunday afternoon. Gov. Ron DeSantis directed FDOT to expedite emergency repairs to allow motorists access to Pine Island by Saturday, Oct. 8. Hurricane Ian created multiple breaks in the stretch of Pine Island Road that runs through the heart of Matlacha, isolating Pine Island from the mainland and hampering the ability to quickly bring in critical supplies like food, water and gasoline.
4:25 p.m. | Sunday update from the LEE EOC
4:19 p.m. USPS urges change of address cards
Worried about receiving mail during reconstruction?
Hold Mail is designed for customers who plan on occupying their homes within 30 days. If you feel you will not be able to occupy your home within 30 days, you need to submit a Change of Address request with the Postal Service. Be sure to mark “Temporary” on the card.
A temporary change of address is designed for customers who plan on returning to their residence within six months. If you are NOT planning to return to your current address, please submit a permanent COA request.
A COA card is available from your letter carrier or at the Post Office. COA requests also may be filed at www.usps.com, the Postal Service’s website.
If you have any questions regarding mail delivery, contact the hotline at 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777). You will be provided specific information regarding delivery and retail services for each office in the affected area.
4:15 p.m. | Lee County announces Hurricane Ian hiring event
Lee County’s disaster debris monitoring partner, Thompson Consulting Services, will be hiring local residents to support Lee County’s Hurricane Ian debris removal efforts.
Positions are for immediate work; there is no physical labor, no experience is necessary and training is provided. Qualified candidates have the potential to earn more than $1,300 per week.
Candidates must attend a hiring event in person to be considered for employment.
If candidates have access to internet, they can preregister at www.indeed.com/job/debris-monitor-data-collector-f0387556c5597ecf.
There will also be an on-site registration kiosk available for residents without internet service.
Location: Jury Parking Lot, 2050 Broadway Circle., Fort Myers, FL 33901
Dates: 4 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 3 and Oct. 4; 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Oct. 5 through Oct. 7.
Debris Removal Monitors, also known as Data Collector or Field Monitors, are responsible for documenting debris collection and other activity performed by disaster recovery contractors. Training is provided.
Candidates must meet the following criteria:
Must be at least 18 years of age
Must be able to read, write and speak English
Must have a valid driver license and safe driving history
Must have your own working vehicle and cell phone
Must have the ability to work in the outside elements for long periods of time (this may include standing outside for the duration of daily debris removal (rain or shine)
Must have a flexible schedule with the availability to work up to 12 hours a day and seven days a week; may be required to work some days in excess of 12 hours
Must be able to travel to various work locations within the recovery area
Must have high school diploma, GED, or equivalent. Must pass random drug screening
Provide proof of citizenship or authorization to work in the U.S.
Thompson is an equal opportunity employer. All applicants will be considered for employment without attention to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, veteran or disability status.
3:05 p.m. | RSW to start limited flights Wednesday
Southwest Florida International Airport will open Wednesday for limited commercial flights.
Here’s what you need to know:
* The initial hours of operation for security checkpoints will be 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with flights operating from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
2:51 p.m. Fort Myers has free meals from 4 to 6 today
The City of Fort Myers announced that 500 warm meals are being served from 4 to 6 p.m. today at two sites:
►Roberto Clemente Park, 3265 Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Fort Myers
►STARS Complex, 2980 Edison Ave
1:35 p.m. | Update on premature newborns, patients moved
More than two dozen premature newborns have been transferred out of Golisano Children’s Hospital to other area hospitals after Hurricane Irma.
Six preemies were sent to NCH North Naples Hospital late last week and Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg has 20 premature newborns from Golisano as of Sunday. It ticked up from 18 on Friday.
Lee Health officials evacuated patients from HealthPark Medical Center in south Lee County and from Gulf Coast Medical Center off Daniels Road after water pressure dropped too low to keep them. Roughly 400 patients were being sent to hospitals in Collier and a similar number were going to be sent elsewhere when available beds could be found
12:55 p.m. | Publix delivers for those who wait
Publix didn’t open until 8 a.m., but Linda Gominiak wasn’t taking any chances. She got there at 5:50 a.m. and started waiting in line.
“I heard on the radio that there would be ice,” the Cape Coral woman said. “That’s all I want is ice. That’s why I’m here.”
Gominiak was one of at least 100 people lined up Sunday at the Publix in Cape Coral's Coral Pointe Shopping Center. They all wanted the same thing: Ice, bottled water and other supplies.
Power remained out for much of Cape Coral after Hurricane Ian, and many of them wanted ice to keep their food from spoiling.
The good news: Publix had gotten a new shipment of water and ice the night before. “I got a whole mountain-full inside!” a store manager told people waiting in the line.
After the store opened, customers formed another line inside as employees deposited water and ice in their carts from a pair of double doors in the back of the store. Each customer could take two packs of bottled water and four bags of ice.
“Have a great day!” one employee told each customer as he filled their cart.
Many of the customers smiled back at him. “Thank you!” they said.
12:30 p.m. | Lee Health Updates hospital conditions
Lee Health reported Sunday that conditions at its hospitals have improved considerably over the past 48 hours. No major damage from the storm was reported at any of its hospitals.
Lee Health hospitals were never without power during or after the storm. They are equipped with generator power, which immediately starts in the event of a power outage.
Water pressure was critically low for a period of time at our facilities, but it has significantly improved. Throughout the storm and in the aftermath, drinking water was always available. Also, we were able to bring in an emergency supply of potable water within 48 hours of the storm’s landfall.
Cape Coral Hospital: Water pressure is back to normal levels. Also, power has been restored and generators are no longer in use.
Gulf Coast Medical Center: Power has been restored and generators are no longer in use. A water tanker truck is on-site to supplement the water lines and provide running water. A Fire Watch has been established, which includes a firetruck placed on-site and a fire crew to monitor the hospital.
HealthPark Medical Center and Golisano Children’s Hospital: Both hospitals are back on the power grid and generator power is discontinued. Water pressure is rising to normal levels. A Fire Watch has been established as a precaution (with a firetruck on-site and monitoring crew) and may be removed in the next few days as water pressure returns to normal.
Lee Memorial Hospital: Power has been restored and generators are no longer in use. Water pressure is low but adequate.
Lee Convenient Care at Page Field opened Saturday and will operate from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. until further notice.
Lee Convenient Care at Pine Island Road reopened today, Sunday and will operate from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. until further notice.
Hurricane Ian: When will FPL restore all power in Florida?
Just because you can’t see Florida Power & Light crews in your neighborhood, that doesn’t mean they’re not working hard to restore your power.
Many of those crews are working behind the scenes and out of sight to restore electricity throughout Florida after Hurricane Ian, said Florida Power & Light’s Ed Devarona in a news briefing Sunday morning.
Free Kosher dinner in Bonita Springs
The Chabad of Bonita Springs, Estero & FGCU invites the community to a fresh war, Kosher at 5 p.m. today. The members say you may enjoy the air conditioning and charge your phones. The Chabad is at 24611 S Tamiami Trail ,Bonita Springs.
11:40 a.m. l Lee restaurants open
Restaurants in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Bonita Springs and other parts of Lee County are opening up.
Some have limited menus and hours, others have food trucks on site. They include the Farmers Market Restaurant in Fort Myers and Lehne Burgers in Cape Coral.
11:33 a.m. | Shelters consolidating
Lee County is consolidating its Hurricane Ian shelters. Three will close as three remain open: Estero Recreation Center, Hertz Arena in Estero and South Fort Myers High School.
Residents staying in Fort Myers’ Dunbar High School, Lehigh Acres’ East Lee County High School and Cape Coral’s Island Coast High School will move this afternoon. Evacuees will have the option of going to another shelter using their own vehicles or LeeTran, which will take evacuees to any of the open shelters of their choice, county spokeswoman Betsy Clayton said in a release.
11:15 a.m. | Fort Myers Beach residents frustrated by emergency response
“Is there a shuttle?”
Karen Coderre asked anyone who would listen. With the afternoon sun beating upon her, she walked down Mantanzas Pass Bridge in a daze. Behind her, she dragged a small grey roller bag and a green tote bag that kept her essentials, clothes, and her purse.
She wore brown flip-flops, a black maxi dress and big black sunglasses – ready for a beach day, maybe, but not to put her life back together. Passing vehicles kicked up the sand that had been left behind as the storm surge covered San Carlos Boulevard.
11:25 a.m. | Lee County announces hurricane debris drop-off sites
Residents and business owners who want to self-haul Hurricane Ian debris while awaiting for roadside pickup can use public drop-off sites. These sites, which will open Monday, will be for both vegetative and structural debris.
Be prepared to show identification and be a resident of unincorporated Lee County. Accepted forms of ID include driver’s license, utility bill, rental or lease agreement, or local business license. You will be asked to complete a waiver confirming the debris came from your property. Find the waiver at www.leegov.com/storm under Operations/ Solid Waste, or get a waiver on-site.
Only storm debris will be accepted and you must be prepared to unload your trucks yourself. Four locations open Monday with operating hours 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily.
Mosquito Control, 1840 Gunnery Road, Lehigh Acres
Brooks Park, 50 South Road, Fort Myers
San Carlos Utility Site, 18078 Cypress Point Road, Fort Myers
Shell Factory, 2805 N. Tamiami Trail, North Fort Myers
Lee County commercial business are encouraged to take their storm debris to the Waste-to-Energy Facility, 10500 Buckingham Road, and will be charged by weight. It will be open regular hours from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For landscaping companies:
Landscaping companies hauling vegetative storm debris cleared from residential properties will need a signed declaration from the resident indicating the address where the debris was generated. No debris will be accepted without a signed declaration.
More information regarding Hurricane Ian and the location and hours of all public drop-off sites can be found at www.leegov.com. Follow @Lee County Government on Facebook, www.facebook.com/leecountyflbocc
Trash pickup reminder:
Lee County Solid Waste garbage collection will resume Monday on the normally scheduled day for all routes in Lee County franchise areas that are accessible to collection trucks. This collection is for household garbage only − everyday trash items and all spoiled food. Collection of recycling will resume at a later time.
10:40 a.m. | For Marco Island, Ian and Irma both bring destruction
Marco Island has seen better days.
On some streets in the days after Hurricane Ian, it seemed like any other Saturday morning, save for the neat piles of vegetation along the streets, a fallen tree here and there and the occasional Pike truck restoring power.
An electronic messaging board alerted drivers that 911 was down and that boating was prohibited.
Elsewhere, residents dragged to the curb surge-soaked mattress, chairs, appliances, dressers — the list goes on.
Depending on who you ask, Hurricane Irma, which made a direct hit to the island city five years ago, was the most horrendous they’d experienced. Others, like 37-year-old Carl Johannes, say that title now goes to Ian.
“I would say Ian was worse. This is just–”
“This is catastrophic,” his son, Raymond, interjected.
9:26 a.m. Generator fires plague Lehigh Acres
The Lehigh Acres Fire Control and Rescue District reported Sunday night that officials responded to three fires related to generators and improper electrical activity in 12 hours.
They urge resident to se caution when charging large battery packs or utilizing your generators.
"Do not take safety shortcuts — it's not worth it," they said. Use normal operating tips, including placing the generator at least 20 feet from a home or structure.
9:05 a.m. | Avoid using US 17 if traveling north or south
The Florida Highway Patrol is warning motorists traveling to Southwest Florida to use Interstate 75, State Road 80, State Road 60, State Road 31, or US 27 as OPEN roadways.
Motorists are strongly recommended to avoid using US 17 due to multiple road closures at:
US 17 closed from Carter Street to Fletcher Street
US 17 closed from Sweetwater to State Road 70
US 17 closed from Tennessee Street to Sweetwater
8:55 a.m. | Hammond Stadium staging area for recovery efforts
Like much of Fort Myers in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Hammond Stadium is a dramatically different sight. Emergency vehicles and tents replace ballplayers and fans.
The Minnesota Twins’ home during spring training – and the home to the team’s Single-A affiliate, the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels – opened up Lee County Sports Complex as an emergency staging area following the overwhelming effects of the storm.
On a recent MLB broadcast, Twins president and CEO Dave St. Peter said he believed everyone affiliated with his organization was accounted for, adding that the complex suffered wind damage and limited water damage.
Now, the stadium's parking lots and fields fill with all kinds of emergency personnel – from state law enforcement to agents from the state Fish and Wildlife Commission and Forest Service.
Portable toilets line the parking lots, along with tents, lawn chairs and clothing lines.
9:24 a.m. Storm official death toll
There are now 44 deaths attributed to Hurricane Ian confirmed by the MEC from the counties below.
Florida District Medical Examiners report hurricane deaths to the Medical Examiners Commission following autopsy after confirming the death is storm-related. FDLE staffs the Florida Medical Examiners Commission.
Reported about 9 p.m. Saturday, Lee County officially has 30, with Sheriff Carmine Marceno reporting earlier in the day there is 35.
Collier County's official count stands at three, and Hendry County has one.
Fort Myers Beach off limits
For the safety of crews working on the Fort Myers Beach, no access will be permitted for the next week, the city reports. This closure provides crews time to complete necessary search and rescue operations.
Fort Myers Beach library closed
The Beach Library will be closed until further notice. Organizers report the building is standing, although it sustained damage.
"Our community has lost so much in Hurricane Ian — our thoughts are with those who are suffering in the aftermath," officials said in a Facebook post.
"Our deepest sympathies go the the family of our Library Greeter Mitch Pacyna, he was a warm, welcoming man and he will truly be missed by the entire community."
This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Hurricane Ian: Minnesota Twin's winter home hosting workers