Residents of Coastal Florida Counties Warned It's Too Late to Safely Evacuate

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis warned that it was too late for people in Collier up to Sarasota counties to safely evacuate on Wednesday morning, September 28, as Hurricane Ian barreled towards the state’s west coast as a Category 4 storm.

DeSantis had urged residents in the path of the storm to evacuate on Tuesday, but said early on Wednesday that it was no longer possible for residents in Collier, Lee, Charlotte, and Sarasota counties to leave safely. “If you are in any of those counties it is no longer possible to safely evacuate,” DeSantis said. “It’s time to hunker down and prepare for this storm.”

DeSantis said the storm was expected to bring catastrophic flooding and life-threatening storm surge. The National Weather Service also warned residents in coastal counties to refrain from going outside and to remain sheltered in a safe location. Credit: Governor Ron DeSantis via Storyful

Video Transcript

- As of 7:00 AM, Hurricane Ian is located roughly 80 miles south southwest of Charlotte County, and it's moving north northeast at 10 miles per hour. It is now a Category 4 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of up to 155 miles per hour. That is knocking on the door of a Category 5 storm. We expect landfall in Southwest Florida later today as a major hurricane, and will slowly move across the Central Florida Peninsula before exiting the Northeast Florida coast, probably sometime on Thursday.

Much of Southern Florida is already experiencing impacts from the storm as it moves closer to landfall. There have been several tornado warnings issued during the overnight hours, and we expect to see that continue today. A storm of this magnitude will produce catastrophic flooding and life threatening storm surge on the Gulf Coast of Florida, and the highest risk areas are ranging from Collier County up to Sarasota County. The current track has the storm making landfall in Charlotte County.

If you are in any of those counties, it's no longer possible to safely evacuate. It's time to hunker down and prepare for this storm. This is a powerful storm that should be treated like you would treat if a tornado was approaching your home. If you're out on the roads, get to a safe place as soon as possible. There's more than 200 shelters open in just the Southwest Florida region alone.

We're already seeing bridge closures. The Skyway Bridge is closed now going from Manatee to Pinellas counties. There's 40,000 power outages reported, but outside of Southwest Florida crews are responding to those power outages.

Don't go outside in the eye of the storm. It's still dangerous. There's actually a calmness. If the center of the hurricane is right over you, you think maybe the storm has passed. That's not the case. It's still very dangerous. There's possibilities of tornadoes. It would also be very difficult to potentially get back into your home. So even if it seems calm, wait to make sure that the storm has actually passed.