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Don Lemon Tonight
Hurricane Ian Not Done In Florida; Storm Knocked Down Power Lines; Rescue Teams Waiting For Storm To Calm Down. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired September 28, 2022 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The news continues. So, let's turn things over to Don and DON LEMON TONIGHT who's in Orlando. Don?
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: All right, Anderson. Thank you very much. As you know, we don't know where these things are going. It was supposed to go towards Tampa. Now it's coming here towards Orlando, and we've got it all covered for you tonight.
This is DON LEMON TONIGHT.
I'm in Orlando. I'm pretty much in the middle of the state that is really being battered by this catastrophic, very violent hurricane that came to shore earlier this evening as a category four hurricane. It has now been downgraded to a category two hurricane, but that doesn't mean that the wind and the rain have stopped. It is still sitting on top of this state.
We have been watching the destruction all over the state today, overnight and into today and into the evening. And again, we have it all covered for you.
It is packing winds of up to 115 miles an hour at this point. And where I am now in Central Florida, it is expected to get worse overnight as we are on the air now. So, make sure you stay tuned. We've got it all covered for you.
But I want you to take a look. You have to see this moment. This moment is from earlier. It is on the southern tip of Pine Island earlier today. Check it out, if you will.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: Hey, you got to be kidding me. You get out there right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And the threat is not over yet. There are still people who are out there sheltering in place. We don't know their condition. We don't know if they are in a safe place now, and there are power outages of up to almost two million people across this state. We have our correspondents, and our crews standout all over the state
of Florida. CNN's Bill Weir is in Punta Gorda for us. Also, Brian Todd is in Largo. Derek van Dam is in Bradenton, and we also have Tom Sater our meteorologist who's in the CNN weather center.
I want to first get to my colleague now, Bill Weir. Bill, as I understand you are on lockdown tonight and you've seen some of the most -- the biggest actions tonight with the wind and the rain. What do you see where you are right now?
BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, it is calm down quite a bit. There is a nine o'clock curfew in place for Punta Gorda here, including media for our own protection, and there's a blackout here as is the case with about a million, or well over a million customers of Florida Power & Light right now.
We really saw the violence of the back end of the storm once the eye had passed over. You know, we thought we'd saw some pretty, pretty stiff winds before that. But on the back end of it, we literally were trying to hold the hotel door shut because the power had had gone out and the magnetic lock was failing.
So, we're tying cords to try to keep the door shut. We're lucky enough to be in a hotel with category four windows, which were tested in this. But the big news, that the big sigh of relief tonight is that we didn't see this massive storm surge that was predicted when we woke up this morning.
LEMON: I bet you didn't. So, listen, we are since two o'clock where, here where I am, they have been asking people to get off the roads. Most people, Bill, have been heeding that warning and they've been doing as officials have said.
What about where you are, because I've been watching some of your live shots earlier and it seems to be really violent at times. I don't know if the worst of it has passed, and you're going to get the outer bands later, but are they heeding the warnings where you are? Have you gotten any information from officials as to the danger that folks are in right now?
WEIR: Yes. There was a briefing here in few hours ago where they said about 60,000 folks were in the red zone. They had no idea how many folks had heeded the evacuation orders. Punta Gorda is a town of about 15,000. Most of which are retirees, many of which who have lived been through other storms.
But this storm was, is unlike any before. And that's kind of the fine point on this. This town in particular, 18 years ago, got hammered by Hurricane Charlie. It tore down 11,000 homes, 300 businesses, took 15 lives, cost $3 billion. They retired the name Charlie from all future hurricanes.
You got to wonder, will we wake up tomorrow, will the devastation from Ian be the same? Will they retire this name as well? But the good thing about that storm is the folks here became the first city in Florida to build a climate resiliency plan, a coastal adaptation plan that's been in the works for over a decade now, which means stricter building codes and buying up, properties that are flood prone and turning them into public places. We will see the fruits of those efforts when the sun comes up in the morning, Don.
LEMON: All right, Bill, I want you to stand by. I'm going to get now to my colleague Derek van Dan who is in Bradenton. And Derek, I know I've been watching you, all day and you -- you'd liken this to, going into a car wash at one point with the windows down. And I know that you're getting some debris flying around.
I just want to show our viewers here. We're getting sort of the same thing. Things have been flying off the building here from time to time. Some of this just flew over.
LEMON: And some of it's from earlier, but I mean, it is a pretty dangerous situation here and I'm sure it's dangerous still where you are. You had some heavy winds earlier today. What's up now?
DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Don, I mean, we are on our 12 of these tropical storm force gusts. We had hurricane winds earlier this afternoon for about six hours. The time Hurricane Ian is literally rewriting the record books across southwestern, Florida. I mean, just incredible to see the ferocity of these winds clocking in, by the way, some gusts at 150 miles per hour. Just absolutely incredible.
And this to me, in my opinion, I've studied this. This has the signature of yet another billion-dollar disaster here across the United States. I mean, you look at the damage that we've already seen, we saw the storm surge video. We heard the National Hurricane act -- Center acting director talk to our colleague Anderson earlier, about how storm surge rose five feet in a matter of minutes along the coastline. I mean, that is just incredible.
We are part of the nearly two million customers in the state of Florida without electricity. We have been plunged into darkness because earlier we saw some of the transformers completely blown out behind us, literally throwing sparks into the air.
We saw awnings being ripped off of some of the local businesses here, so debris flying through the air. It has been a vicious day. And I fear for the people who have to ride the storm out at night, especially as it makes its slow trudge inland across the Florida peninsula. This storm did exactly what we had hoped it wouldn't, but knew that it might strengthening on its final approach, and occurrence were seen happen more frequently in this warming world. Don?
LEMON: Yes. So, from Derek in Bradenton, I want to get to my colleague Brian Todd. Brian is joining us from Largo. Brian, I understand that you got a lot of damage today and you've been able to assess it. What's happening right now? What did you see? BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, you talk about damage,
devastation, and loss for any given family in this entire region. You're seeing an illustration of it right behind me. This is a house in Largo, Florida, just north of St. Petersburg. We're going to take you in through the windows here and what's left of this place.
Take a look at this. This was damaged by a fire earlier today. We pulled having gotten a tip that there might be a fire here and the front of the house looked like it was fairly intact with just a blown- out window. But then I walked around to this side and look at this, throughout room, after room after room, it has been completely burned out, debris all over the place.
We just talked to the owner who said that he -- that his family has had this house since 1972, 50 years. They've had the house, Don. He just inherited it after a death in the family. They came back here to renovate the house. And now look at this. They've lost almost everything.
He did say they're fully insured, so they're hoping that, that they can maybe recover some of this, but not clear if any of this is recoverable. We also traveled around this area in Largo. We saw in a neighborhood of manufactured homes. We saw two roofs completely ripped off the houses.
And so, there's still, you know, a lot of devastation here in the St. Petersburg area. We're just getting around to assessing some of it now even while the storm is still with us. These are dangerous places to go in and out of too, I have to say, because, you know, these first responders will always tell you that going into a house like this to try to recover your belongings or anything, very dangerous.
You've got power lines, other things, just a lot of debris around that can pose a danger to you if you go into the, into these houses. So, for people out there trying to maybe assess their damage, just keep that in mind. You've got to be very, very careful in going through a house like this, Don.
LEMON: Yes, stand by and you be careful. Brian Todd as well in Largo. Let's get to my -- the expert, my colleague Tom Sater, who's in the CNN weather center.
Tom, almost as if on cue when we came on the air it feels like someone poured, you know, started pouring buckets of water on top of us.
TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes.
LEMON: I mean, this thing is coming in and it's just kind of sitting here. It's not moving very quickly. You can feel it.
LEMON: The winds aren't very high, but man, we're getting a lot of rain here.
SATER: Yes. In fact, John, if you look at the infrared satellite imagery, these bright colors, these purple colors still near the core, so it's still producing some pretty good rain. Now the tornadic activity is over the Bahamas. This is the tornadoes that we had last night, over eight of them. But if we get in closer here and the latest advisory, we're drop-down winds. Sustained winds 100 miles per hour.
I mean, we've got hurricane force winds extended outward just about a hundred, and you've got a 350-mile-wide swath of tropical storm force winds. In fact, in the advisory, the National Hurricane Center said the entire peninsula now is experiencing tropical storm conditions.
Now, dry air is filtering in to the south. That's going to cut off rain totals. Dry air now, and this is kind of a shock here in the last few frames is coming in on this northern edge right through Orlando that may drop some rain totals down as well, but it doesn't matter.
We've already seen two to three months' worth of rain in 24 hours. This is the loop. We're backing it up in time, showing it moved in 305, moving in with winds at 150. This, of course category four, but it matches the wind speed when Charlie moved in 18 years ago. So, they're tied for the strongest.
Now that doesn't mean anything. In the off-season National Hurricane Center is going to reassess this. This could be the strongest just with Michael. And Michael made landfall it was a category four. They revised that. It was to a category five.
In fact, when we talk about the size since been compared to Charlie all day long, if you look at just the core of the systems, the core of Charlie would fit into the eye with room despair. That's how massive of a storm this is. So much broader.
System moving in. Heavy rain bands as expected have been on the northern periphery. We'll talk more about that in a second. But look at this. The winds are so strong it knocked out all the act -- our weather, of course gauges from Venice, Fort Myers, and Naples.
We fear the images that we will see from the air tomorrow from the Charlotte Harbor down to Fort Myers, down to Naples. It could look like what we saw in Mexico Beach when Michael moved in. That'll be staggering. We don't know exactly how high the surge is in many locations because like in Naples, it got up to seven feet in the -- in the surge recorder broke.
I mean, we lost the weather instrument there to give us that height. And there's only so many surge monitors along the coastline. Winds up 124, Punta Gorda 140 as you see there. Cape Coral, we've got almost two million without power down. We're going to see up to three and a half, maybe four million without power as the system now rakes across the central with hurricane force winds, again outward over a hundred miles.
And when you toss a lot more rain into this, the root system of these trees are not going to handle this with this kind of wind conditions as it moves right across the entire region. LEMON: Yes. And here's the thing, Tom, the folks came here right from
the Tampa area because they thought that this would be safer and that would miss them.
LEMON: And now the hurricane has followed them here to Orlando. You mentioned, Punta Gorda. Let's -- Bill Weir. I want to bring Bill back in. Bill, I -- I'm pretty sure that you can hear me. Bill is our climate correspondent, he's been doing, you know --
LEMON: -- covering weather stories or what have you. And I've been watching you, Bill, all day. You got some questions for Tom Sater? You want to ask him some stuff?
WEIR: Yes, it's interesting, Tom, I met a gentleman here who is an engineer, a structural engineer who goes into storms like this. He's done dozens of them. He works for the state of Florida. He told me he was -- he was driving over the bridge here, U.S. 43 and the wind was actually flexing his car windows.
So, he just cracked his window, he thought to release the pressure and it blew the sunroof literally out of his SUV --
WEIR: -- and he had a wind monitor, he said registered at 156 as a gust.
WEIR: I'm just wondering, you touched on it, whether you think that this storm was bigger than our instruments, that that it was more fierce than we were able to measure?
SATER: Well, it's very possible. I mean, not just with the instruments, as we mentioned with the surge, Bill, but with the winds as well. This is going to be really inspected and they're going to pour over all the data in the off season. They're going to assess everything and they'll start that tomorrow.
In fact, when they go out, we may know tomorrow just how high the surge was. So many locations we don't know now. Now Governor DeSantis did report that his crews have reporting about 12-foot-high surge. Remember, some of the forecasts were up to as high as 18. We just don't know. We just don't know.
But with the winds, we have better, you know, equipment in some cases, although I suspect, and I really do, Derek is right. This is going to be a billion-dollar disaster. And to your question they will retire the name, Ian, most likely.
It's interesting to note, think about all the storms that start with a letter I in history. They've been a mess. Irene, Irma, Ida, I mean, they just continue.
SATER: Yes. Just so many of them. So again, I think what we're going to find here is that maybe just maybe it was stronger at landfall, and the surge a little bit higher to the south than, than we really know right now.
LEMON: Gentlemen, thank you very much, Bill. I want you to be safe, all of our correspondents, Derek, Brian Todd, as well. We're going to get back to you, Tom, checking back with you throughout the hours here on CNN. I appreciate it.
We've got a lot of ground to cover in the coming hours here on CNN. We're live for you in Florida as Ian it's making its way brutally across this state.
There's a lot of damage that we're going to talk about in Sarasota, but in Sarasota, Fort Myers and other places. We've got the experts standing by. Don't go anywhere. We're back in the moment with our live coverage right here on CNN.
LEMON: Don Lemon back now from Orlando, Florida. I want you to take a look at this. This is from Fort Myers. It is a time lapse. You can take a look at how the storm made its way through Fort Myers today in the damage that it left behind. It is really unbelievable to see the destruction that Ian is waging on the state. Ferocity of the storm is really unbelievable.
I want to talk to some of the experts now. Sheriff Carmine McCraney (pH) from -- McCraney (Ph) is from Lee County. Excuse me, Carmine Marceno is from Lee County. And also, Ed McCrane is emergency management chief of Sarasota County.
And we appreciate both of you gentlemen joining us this evening. Thank you very much.
Sheriff, I'm going to start with you. Take us through what has happened (AUDIO GAP).
LEMON: All right, everyone. Don Lemon back now live. I am fine. Everything is a -- it's a little rain fade here as the -- these bands keep moving through. It happens during a hurricane.
Let's get back now to our experts. I want to bring in now Sheriff Carmine Marceno of Lee County and Ed McCrane, emergency management chief of Sarasota County, he joined us last night. But Sheriff, I'm going to start with you, because I understand the damage in Fort Myers pretty severe. Take us through what's happened, what's the damage there?
CARMINE MARCENO, SHERIFF, LEE COUNTY, FLORIDA: Well, Don, I appreciate you having me on here. And I'll tell you, we got caught by surprise. Although we knew the storm was coming, we just -- it was so unpredictable and the path and the projective path changed so much.
But when it hit us, it came in strong at a -- at a very, very strong cat four borderline, two miles an hour under a cat five. And the thing about it was very slow moving.
So, you know, unfortunately we did everything we could, our -- my family members worked for the last second until we hit a sustained winds of 45 miles an hour. And then of course, we have to pull off the roadways. And that's very difficult to do. You know, you want to be out there, I want to be out there. We all want to be helping people that are in need, but we got to do it safely.
So, we're out there and the calls are coming in, we always accept those 911 calls and then we prioritize so that when we can get backed out there, we can. And I'll tell you, the devastation has been huge. I mean, with the reports of vehicles just floating into the ocean, buildings compromise, rooftops floating down the streets. I don't know exactly because we're not able to assess it personally, but I can tell you we got hit very hard.
The only thing I also know is very blessed in the state that everyone has come together. You know, my fellow brothers and sisters and the Florida Sheriff's Association and for -- and fellow sheriffs have called, they got teams ready to go and they're waiting for the green light.
LEMON: Yes, listen, you're talking about just the damage here and I -- we were out here getting ready for our shots and parts of the building. If you could, if you guys can show this, parts of the building. You know, Sheriff, started flying off, I'm not sure you can see this. We have debris just flying here. You never know.
LEMON: So, we're being as safe as, as possible. We're kind of hunkered behind. But you can -- go on.
MARCENO: The storm surge, it's 18 feet plus, you know, and that water hits those low-lying areas and the Barry Islands from Boca Grande straight through Sanibel, Captiva, the Fort Myers beach and that coastline. And we got people that are trapped in their homes, people that are on their second floor.
Some people that there are reports that people are in attics, and we want to get to them, not wasting one second. Very frustrating from our perspective that we can't get there. So, we're waiting for that, that green light so we can assess and get to the people in need.
LEMON: Yes. Look, when you say people that are trapped in their attics are hiding, I mean, it brings me back to Katrina and some of my loved ones and family members who were, you know, spent time in attics just waiting for the water to go down and waiting to be rescued. That is really some serious business.
Stand by, sheriff, I want to get now to Ed. Ed, I understand that you have a -- some -- a flash flood emergency happening in the area in Fort Myers. What's going on there? And Sarasota, I should say, pardon me.
ED MCCRANE, CHIEF, EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT, SARASOTA COUNTY: Well, I'm in -- I'm in. That's OK. That's OK. Yes, we get those warnings because of the amount of rainfall, our rivers we're already at minor flood stage before Ian came along. We have not been able to leave the EOC yet because so we're still under tropical storm conditions.
Talking to weather service we might be able to roll out of here at three o'clock in the morning. So, our first 10 teams will go out and we'll start getting feedback. And then when first light comes, we'll get some aerial surveillance.
The governor and the states that we're going to get some helicopter support that will come in. But, yes, we get those whenever these storms are out there.
LEMON: What is the most dangerous part of the storm? Because it's interesting and it's kind of tricky because when the storm is right on top of you, people tend to stay inside and they're safer inside, or is it after it passes and they think that everything is fine and they start to come outside again?
MCCRANE: Yes, that's part of it. People think, they don't understand that there's a backside of it, especially the storm, they told us that Ian had a 50-mile-wide eye wall. And they said Charlie could have fit inside this eyewall. So, it was a huge storm. And at eyewall was a 140, 145-plus mile an hour wind.
So, that is extremely dangerous, especially in the right by quadrant. And then all the storm surge was pushing. That's -- that's very deadly because, you know, we tell people run from the water, hide from the wind. If you can do those two things, you'll survive a disaster like this. Or get -- get to a safe building away from the flood.
LEMON: Sheriff -- yes. Right. And we have a delay. Pardon me for that, Ed. Sheriff, I understand Fort Myers, the mayor is saying 96 percent of the city is without electricity. Is that true? Tell us about the situation there.
MARCENO: So, all over the state, we've been told by the CEO of FPL I spoke to personally, and is over a million people plus without electricity. Obviously, the buildings have been compromised. Water has just overcome most of the areas here. And again, I mean, we're looking at some real, real disastrous types
of scenarios here. The assessment will be ASAP the minute and second, we can get out there so we can see what we actually have.
The calls coming in. People are still calling 911. And again, we're -- we are logging every single call and priority to make certain that when we got that green light, we strategically placed hundreds of deputies and law enforcement all over our county. Our county is 1,260 square miles of land in state. It's one of the larger ones of 67 and we're ready to go.
And I want to also highlight the assistant that we've had has been second to none. You know, Senator Rick Scott has phoned numerous times. Our great governor has called countless times today just to tell us, obviously, what are we seeing? We have help on the way and everything that we can do as a team.
We've really come together as a team to make certain that when we come out, we come out in full force with all the tools needed to make certain our residents are safe and get the help they need.
LEMON: Listen, we know what a tremendous strain it is on your communities and it is a very busy time for both of you, gentlemen. We really appreciate you being on. We may have to come back to you, as I'm standing here because this storm, this hurricane is still bearing down on the state. Thanks to both of you.
I'm going to get now to Dave Reuter from Florida Power --
MARCENO: Please be safe.
LEMON: Yes. Thank you. I really appreciate that. That means the world to me. Thank you very much.
Dave Reuter from Florida Power & Light joins us right now. As I understand it, correct me if I'm wrong, two million people, close to two million people without power in this state, Dave. Will you give us the correct numbers now? What's going on?
DAVE REUTER, VICE PRESIDENT, FLORIDA POWER & LIGHT: Yes. Good evening, Don. So, I'm not sure the exact number across the state. What I can tell you is, FPL customers within our service territory in Florida, we've got about 1.1 million customers out at the moment. That's about one fifth of 20 percent of our total customers in the state at the moment.
LEMON: So, when you're in the middle of, of this, what -- what are you doing? What resources do you need. And are you able to go out and to restore power now or do you have to wait for the intensity to slow before your crews can go out safely to try to get power back to folks?
REUTER: Yes, so from a resource standpoint, we have about 20,000 restoration crew ready to go in the states. We've been working for the last several days to get those crews prepositioned around the key areas where we knew the storm was going to come through.
Those crews come from not only Florida, but 30 other states. And we have them staged at 37 different sites across the state of Florida right now. So, what we are waiting on is for the storm to come all the way through on the west coast, to where we can safely get into those areas and start to assess what damage might have taken place because of the storm.
We expect that that will -- will hopefully start in the morning when it's daylight and once the storm has moved more to the center part of the state.
LEMON: Dave, you know, we're looking at video and we have been of down power lines. That is a very significant and dangerous threat.
REUTER: It absolutely is, Don. And, you know, from a customer standpoint, we want to continue to let customers know. They -- you need to stay away from those power lines. They need to, you know, be as careful as possible not to go into areas where they can't see if power lines happen to be down, whether because of debris or because of flooding. The best thing they can do is wait for us to come in, assess the
damage and start to make the repairs.
LEMON: Do you have enough manpower? And back to the question I asked you before, previous question, do you have enough manpower? And I mean, is it, can you even assess how long it'll take to get people back up and running? Or is it something that you have to assess once you can get out there.
REUTER: Yes, we -- we really do have to wait until we can get out there. Usually after the storm clears within 24 hours of a storm clearing a particular area, we can start to provide estimates on when we think power will be restored for the majority of our customers.
I think that's going to be the case for us certainly on the west -- on the west coast of the state tomorrow. What I can tell you is what we're fearful of at the moment is that it won't simply be restoring power on the west coast, where some of the most severe damage is clearly taken place. But rather, it will be a rebuilt of the system because of the magnitude that this storm hit with a high category four nearly a category five.
LEMON: Dave Reuter, before I let you go. Listen, you're the expert. So, I'll tell you the biggest question that I get when these storms happen, and I know it probably has to do with the water table or water level, and also it is a cost issue.
But people ask me all the time, why are there -- why aren't these power lines buried? Why do we still have power lines that are above ground that can go out during storms, especially when on the Gulf Coast that is hit by so many hurricanes and storms and such.
REUTER: Yes, it's a very good question, but I'll tell you that we've been working from more than a decade and a half to underground power lines in the state of Florida. We've made a lot of progress in that time. And, you know, it is a -- it is a huge task.
We have thousands and thousands of miles of power lines throughout the state just in our service -- service terry for -- territory for Florida Power & Light. So, it's a question of time. It's a question of cost, and we're diligently making progress on that, but it won't happen overnight.
But I can tell you in the areas where we have underground of the lines, they have proven to be much more reliable and perform better in events just like the one we're seeing right now.
LEMON: Underground power lines you say are more reliable, correct?
REUTER: That is correct. Yes, Don.
LEMON: Cutting out a little bit my ear correct, Dave.
LEMON: Dave, listen, I know that again, you are very busy but it's important for people to get the information. Some people still have power. Those who have power here to get the information who are able to get CNN, if not on the radio on Sirius but, also on cable and on the streaming service as well.
So, we appreciate you joining us. We may have to get back to you to ask you more questions. Thank you. You be safe. OK?
REUTER: Same to you. Thank you, Don.
LEMON: Thank you very much. Listen, we're going to continue our coverage of the damage that's happening all over the state of Florida right now. I'm live in Orlando. The storm is bearing down on us. We could get the brunt of it while we're on the air and overnight in the coming hours. So, make sure you stay tuned. Don't go anywhere. We'll be right back.
LEMON: Back now live coverage Hurricane Ian. I want to get straight now to Chief Anthony Holloway from the St. Petersburg Police.
Chief, thank you for joining us. What are the conditions in St. Petersburg?
ANTHONY HOLLOWAY, CHIEF, ST. PETERSBURG POLICE DEPARTMENT, FLORIDA: Well, right now we're still having some gust about 70 miles an hour. It's been raining since about six o'clock this morning.
LEMON: Chief, what about rescues in your area?
HOLLOWAY: As of -- as of right now we have no rescue area. We are still monitoring throughout, throughout the evening, but as of right now, we have no rescue calls that have come through our station.
LEMON: You have no rescues. And what about, are you -- are you OK with the number of people, you're satisfied with the number of people who either evacuated, went to shelters and or stayed put?
HOLLOWAY: We had a lot of people that stayed put, we only had about four -- 4,000 people that went to our shelters here in Pinellas County. So, we are a little bit worried about that. So, in the morning when the weather clears, we'll be doing an assessment once we get out there.
LEMON: I'm glad you mentioned that what you're going to be doing in the morning, you'll do an assessment, but that's when you're going to find out what happened. Are you -- are you worried? I'm sure you're hopeful. But as you know, you know when the sun comes up, sometimes we see the worst of what these storms delivered overnight.
HOLLOWAY: Yes, we are worried about that, but we haven't received any calls through our 911 center people asking for rescue. So, we'll just be out assessing the damage throughout the city first thing in the morning.
LEMON: And what are you going to be able to offer as far as re -- as far as resources to the folks tomorrow once you get out and are able to assess?
HOLLOWAY: So, the first thing we'll do we'll make sure we can, clear all the major roadways. We'll work with our city team to try to remove all the debris from the street. We'll be working with Duke Energy to help them to restore power throughout our city.
We got about 60,000 people in Pinellas County without power at this time. And again, just to see what services that people need when we contact them on the street.
LEMON: Were you able to get out and see and assess the flooding?
HOLLOWAY: We were, we did have some units out there. As of, again, as of 10 o'clock today we haven't had any flooding. Again, we have a couple more bands coming through tonight. So, first thing in the morning, we may see more flooding, but right now we haven't seen any serious flooding in our city.
LEMON: Yes. And as you can understand, listen, I'm standing out in the wind and the rain, it's kind of hard to hear you sometimes. Did you talk about the -- you mentioned the power outages. Did you mention -- did you -- can you tell us how many people in your area are without power as far as you know?
HOLLOWAY: Sure. So, in Pinellas County we have about 60,000 people that are without power right now. That at 10 o'clock we receive those numbers. So again, as the, as the next band come through, we may lose more power. And again, as people call in, we'll get those numbers. And first thing in the morning we'll assess the damages throughout the city. LEMON: And I would imagine you won't know how long it'll take to
restore until you figure out the damage and what you need to do to get it back, correct?
HOLLOWAY: That is correct. We have to wait to see. We notice some traffic signals that are down. We notice some trees that are down. So again, soon as first light, we'll get our crew out there to start moving to the debris. We'll be working with Duke Energy to restore power in our community as soon as possible or quickly as possible.
LEMON: All right, Chief Holloway, I appreciate it. You be safe. All right?
HOLLOWAY: You too. Be careful out there.
LEMON: Thank you so much. So, we are checking in with folks from counties all over the state of Florida being hit by this very ferocious hurricane. We're going to be back. We're going to be joined by an official from Collier County. we're going to assess the damage there. Back in a moment.
LEMON: Hurricane Ian bearing down on Florida right now. We're going to check in with some of the counties to see what is going on where they are.
Let's check in now. Rick LoCastro is a Collier County Commissioner. Commissioner, thank you so much for joining us.
As I understand, you say that this is a once in a lifetime storm. Talk to me about that and the damage you're experiencing.
RICK LOCASTRO, COMMISSIONER, COLLIER COUNTY, FLORIDA: Well, it really was. I mean, as we're following the storm now everyone is talking about where this is and where it's going to -- going to. Let me tell you where it was earlier today. When the storm slammed into the Fort Myers area a lot of the meteorologist will tell you it was -- it was the communities just south of that eye that took the brunt of a very unique storm surge.
I mean, I lived through Irma back in 2017 here on Marco Island where I live. And Marco Island is part of the district where I'm a county commissioner. A big part of my district is about half of Naples and the surrounding communities, and I'm sure you've been down here. It's a -- it's a nice piece of paradise, but the trade-off is storms like this.
But the angle and the way this storm hit created a very, very severe storm surge. I'm a retired Air Force colonel I've commanded many bases, you know, so I've been in some dangerous situations same as you.
[22:49:58] So, this wasn't my first rodeo, but the reality was the storm surge we had down here was horrific. We did a great job of evacuating people, but when they come back here, it's one thing.
You know, Irma is a perfect example. That was -- that was a wind hurricane. Plenty of water. But you lose your roof, you lose your pool cage. You go into your house and you make dinner that night, and then you wait for the contractors to show up. And I'm not making light of it.
But when you get 12 feet of storm surge, much like fire or a tornado, that is horrific damage and you don't go back to your house. And we experienced every inch and I saw every inch, because I live on Marco Island. And so, I didn't evacuate. I was here working, you know, as a -- as a former military person with the first responders. I wasn't going to evacuate to a hotel and then come back here.
And so, you know, we worked hard to get people out of here and do an awful lot of things, but the storm surge really was unique. And during Irma, as people might remember, a lot of meteorologists were suggesting 12, 15 foot of storm surge. When here on Marco, when we got about four or five or six feet, a lot of the meteorologists, sort of -- sort of got -- took a -- took, you know, got a little bit of a bad name and unfairly because the surge would've been that much.
But as Irma changed a little bit here and there, it compensated for the storm surge. This storm didn't do that. In fact, the wiggle -- wiggles and the wobbles exacerbated the storm surge. So, although a lot of people were focused on the eye hitting Fort Myers and where it -- where it's gone next, I can tell you we are left with a war zone down here. A serious, serious flooding and unbelievable storm surge that came in here with a vengeance.
And I mean, I watched every inch of it. And, you know, a lot of people that evacuated are going to come back to some pretty horrific, you know, things with their homes and to see our community.
LEMON: Well, a couple things I want to ask you, because I think you're one of among 200,000 or so people without power. We're looking at pictures of your home. there. And --
LOCASTRO: Yes, I'm sitting -- I've been in my home in the dark all day.
LEMON: You have. So how -- if you're, if you don't have power, how are you communicating with emergency and first responders and such?
LOCASTRO: Well, initially when we first started this morning, we did -- we did have power. So, I basically had a command center in my house. I also had Walkie Talkie type of communication with about 400 of senior leaders and first responders in my district and here on Marco Island. So, we were communicating actually very well.
And the thing about this storm, Don, is it didn't have a lot of wind initially to -- that affected us, you know, the way that Irma did. When Irma was heavy, heavy wind we lost cell phones very quickly. Power went out immediately. No Wi-Fi, no cable, no watching, you know, the news media.
We had that in in the very beginning. And so, it did allow us to coordinate things before the raft of the storm really hit. And get some extra people out, especially as the storm started to take a turn. But then, you know, just basically, you know, we still have -- we still have text messaging. I mean, I'm obviously talking to you on my phone. So we still continued, you know, to communicate.
But the beauty was, you know, we did get a lot of folks out here, out of here. But getting them out of here didn't stop the wind. But -- and especially the water. And so, although we had -- we had strong gusts here and it was a serious storm. It wasn't an Irma, you know, it wasn't a Katrina, but the storm surge was, was really one for the record books. How it came in with such velocity and so many places that you would think are protected at a much high enough level. Well, maybe on any given hurricane, they are, they are at a high enough elevation.
People are going to come back here and find that some of the homes that they felt were at a very safe elevation, not for this type of storm. And you know, that's where we're -- we're going to really see the results of the damage over the next couple days.
I can tell you I'm trapped in my house right now because there's water all around me that's not passable. And there's more than a handful of us here on Marco Island, but you know, we got the bulk of the folks out and then those that hunkered down, like I said, it wasn't horrific winds compared to some really serious hurricanes, but the water was -- was unbelievable.
And you know, a lot of people, you know, have, you know, permanent damage here due to the incredible amount of flooding that came with this storm and unexpected. As you know, there was a lot of changes at the last minute. You know, when it's -- when it's a few hundred miles south of Cuba and it's wiggling 10 miles to the east, nobody really pays that much attention.
But you know, as I learned from the time at my time in the military, a bunch of those small little changes eventually when it gets close to you, adds up to one giant muscle movement. And that's exactly what happened with this storm, and it hit us basically perpendicular and then continue to move up north.
But the bottom, the dirty side as everybody always says of the storm, that went through Naples, Marco Island, Isles of Capri, and a few places further north of us and did extensive, extensive damage.
LEMON: I don't think -- I don't think that you can -- you can hear me, Rick. Thank you so much. I was trying to jump in there. Rick, we appreciated. Hey, listen and be safe. Be safe. Please. You and your neighbors. I got to just show the folks what's happened here. Rick is exactly
right. We've seen a lot of wins, right? As it, you know, obviously bigger. This is a hurricane. We have, you know, storm force winds that are happening.
But it is really the rain. I feel like someone is dumping buckets of water and you can feel that the storm is not moving because usually when we cover these things and living through them, having grown up here on the Gulf Coast, you would get a big band of rain. It comes through and then it dries up and it comes through and it dries up.
These bands are just sitting. The rain is just sitting on top of us. And it, you know, it -- it's not really moving away quickly. So that is a concern here. The water, the storm surge, the inland flooding, that's what's going to cause most of the damage here.
We're continuing to follow Ian as it makes its way up at the Florida Peninsula. We're back in a moment right here on CNN. Don't go anywhere.