What. A. Day.
Hurricane Ian, now a Category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph, is pushing towards Florida's east coast. More than 2 million Floridians are without power, according to PowerOutage.us, and the Suncoast won't know what, exactly, Ian's aftermath looks like until the sun comes up this morning.
Still, winds on Thursday night had quieted enough for the City of North Port to begin sending out its Special Response Team, which planned to evaluate damage in that city. "Help is coming," the city tweeted.
The winds have died enough. Special Response Team heading out to evaluate damage. Be patient. Be smart. Be safe. Help is coming. pic.twitter.com/CWZkIVYMZh— North Port Police (@NorthPortPolice) September 29, 2022
Sarasota County posted that it would be sending out its Tactical First-In Teams on Thursday morning, when winds were expected to die down below 45 mph in much of the rest of the county—the point at which it's safe for emergency vehicles to get back on the road. The teams will also be evaluating the county's water and wastewater systems.
Sarasota County Schools remain closed until at least Friday, Sept. 30.
In Manatee County, more than 5,000 people—plus pets—evacuated to county storm shelters, with almost half arriving just three hours before the facilities locked down for the storm. As in Sarasota, schools will remain closed until at least Friday, Sept. 30.
At a press conference Wednesday, Florida Power & Light CEO Eric Silagy said that the company would deploy its "army" of restoration workers as soon as it was safe to do so.
Ian made landfall as a near-Category 5 storm at 3 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon with winds of 155 mph—one of the most powerful storms to strike the United States in decades. It roared ashore near Cayo Costa, about an hour and 20 minutes south of Sarasota, creating storm surge of up to 12 feet that washed away cars, destroyed houses and trapped residents in their homes.
"I haven't seen anything close to this in over 30 years," veteran meteorologist Mike Seidel of The Weather Channel tweeted on Wednesday evening.
We were in the eye wall of Cat. 4 #Hurricane #Ian for over 5 hours and the back side was the worst.— Mike Seidel (@mikeseidel) September 29, 2022
I haven't experienced anything close to this in over 30 years @weatherchannel pic.twitter.com/wfEqcuEBAm