Hurricane Ian was downgraded to a tropical storm early Thursday morning as it traversed northeastward across central Florida, dumping torrential rain while still packing strong winds across a large swath of the state.
The former Category 4 hurricane made landfall Wednesday afternoon west of Fort Myers near Cayo Costa. Ian unleashed widespread life-threatening storm surge flooding across the region.
About 2.6 million homes and businesses are without power, according to PowerOutage.us. The most significant number of outages are based in the southwest Florida region, where the hurricane made landfall.
Shocking footage yesterday revealed the surge sent a wall of water roaring inland that was as high as some homes. Streets were instantly transformed into rivers. We pointed out last night that total storm damage could be upwards of $70 billion.
I'm sick to my stomach seeing these photos of the incredible storm surge that hit Fort Myers, Florida as the eye of Hurricane Ian moved onshore Wednesday. Easily over 10 feet of water up to the roofs in some spots. pic.twitter.com/S6tViQf5Kv
-- Eric Zernich (@EricZernich) September 29, 2022
My whole heart is broken, downtown Fort Myers Beach is completely under water. #fortmyersbeach #HurricaneIan #FortMyers pic.twitter.com/2V0GbB7jdk
-- Abbie (@Abbieamerican) September 28, 2022
Storm surge outside of my moms house on Fort Myers Beach. I'm so sick. pic.twitter.com/12ujJqmacH
-- Beth #GetCaroleHome (@itsbethbooker) September 28, 2022
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno told ABC's Good Morning America that he believes "fatalities are in the hundreds" after Ian devastated his county, which includes Fort Myers, Cape Coral, and Bonita Springs, areas that experienced extreme storm surges yesterday and into the overnight.
Hoping he's wrong, but Lee County, Fla. Sheriff Carmine Marceno says it's "confirmed" there are "fatalities in the hundreds" #HurricaneIan pic.twitter.com/WtJCfWPwb4
-- Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) September 29, 2022
Breaking Fort Meyers Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno says 100's dead in the wake of hurricane Ian #HurricaneIan #hurricaineIan #Ian pic.twitter.com/f2L7Tiwawq
-- wlctv.ca (@wlctv_ca) September 29, 2022
Now Ian is expected to enter the Atlantic Ocean later today and make landfall (again) along the South Carolina coast late Friday.
The storm's economic impact on Florida's manufacturing, agriculture, and distribution sectors will be felt for weeks, if not months. It could also upend Florida's home-insurance market, where insurers likely face billions of dollars in losses.