Hurricane Ian — a major category 4 storm — has made landfall in Florida

The impacts from the storm will be felt for hours and hours, but it is now losing strength as it continues inland. The storm has slowly moved up the state, bringing nonstop rain and massive storm surge with it. It has been downgraded to a Category 3 storm, but it is still a powerful storm. Hurricane Ian made landfall in southwest Florida today as a powerful Category 4 storm.

Hi Liz. Ian arrived on the shore north of Petersburg, specifically in Baker Liz NPR’s location, in order to provide us with an update here.

Hi, Ailsa. This is Liz Baker reporting.

CHANG: OK. So can you initially just inform us about some of the initial effects of Ian? What did you observe?

The second-story windows in downtown Naples show cars floating down the streets, with lapping seawater from Fort Myers Beach and the higher surge than before. Governor said that the surge reached up to 12 feet in some spots, which is caused by the rush of seawater pushed by the spinning winds of the hurricane. This flooding, which comes from two sources – storm surge and rainfall – is the biggest concern. However, it’s been a long day with fierce wind and little rain, and it’s not a joke. Well, it all started with a little wind and light rain.

Still experiencing its influence, however, those locations are hundreds of miles distant from the center of the cyclone. Particularly in proximity to rivers, numerous counties on the eastern shoreline of Florida presently possess evacuation mandates for areas prone to flooding. Furthermore, as a consequence of Ian’s potential, the Florida peninsula might receive a substantial amount of rainfall, ranging from 10 to 15 inches. Nevertheless, the possibility of flooding due to precipitation remains considerably elevated. Fortunately, authorities affirm that the storm surge has reached its highest point, which is indeed encouraging news.

CHANG: Wow. Any notion of the number of individuals who may have chosen to remain instead of evacuating?

Authorities say that the majority of people believe that areas like barrier islands are especially dangerous, and they should be evacuated. However, there is currently no known way to know for sure.

CHANG: OK.

BAKER: However, there are always individuals who choose to remain at their residence…

CHANG: Yeah.

Choosing to remain under a secure roof, despite the potential danger, did not hold value for him. His family played a crucial role in persuading him to depart early, although he had intended to evacuate at a later time. Today, during my drive through a mobile home park in St. Petersburg, I encountered Paul Licea, a 90-year-old individual who was loading some belongings into his car. Some individuals opt to stay due to a lack of comprehension regarding the risks involved, personal preference, or financial constraints.

LICEA PAUL knows that you don’t know the problem: we have the hurricane straps, but the house will be gone, here’s the house, but the family after me, get out of town.

The calm momentary of the hurricane’s eye, during which people are instructed to stay well and keep a curfew imposed by some counties, has led to wandering around and waiting for shelter. Anyone who stayed behind is instructed to stay in place. It is now too dangerous to leave this area. When he left, Ailsa, it’s really a good thing.

Are these individuals being saved? Residences submerged, automobiles drifting down roads, similar to a few of these visuals you’re referring to, Liz, I’m contemplating, You know, CHANG.

Today, numerous calls have been received by 911 call centers, according to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in a briefing. It is extremely difficult to determine the current number of individuals in need of assistance, particularly given the circumstances. Emergency personnel are unable to venture out and provide aid due to the excessively hazardous conditions. These areas with the significant storm surge are currently enduring the most severe part of the storm. Not yet, Baker.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING).

We will make every effort to assist those individuals if they are in danger. However, it would have likely been more advantageous for them to take that course of action. Certain individuals opted not to take that step, you see. They were provided with sufficient time to make necessary preparations and evacuate, but they were informed about the dangers in these regions.

For individuals anticipating assistance, the forthcoming night will be prolonged. Nonetheless, he mentioned that the commencement of those rescue endeavors will only be possible at the break of dawn tomorrow. BAKER.