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Don Lemon Tonight
Hurricane Ian Left Many Floridians Homeless; Seventeen People Died from Ian; Years of Hard Work Just Crushed by Hurricane Ian; Not All Housing Adhere to FEMA Standards. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired September 29, 2022 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Everyone. Thank you so much for watching our coverage of Hurricane Ian continues now with Don Lemon tonight. He is live from Orlando, Don Lemon. I'm so glad to see you that you are safe. We've been watching you all day.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Yes, it is -- what a day. It has been a day of really horrors and danger, but also some good, Laura, seeing neighbors coming together, helping neighbors.
But I have to tell you, it's been probably the most interesting day in a long time, and the emotions going back and forth watching and experiencing all of this. I'm going to get to it. I'll see you tomorrow night, Laura. Thank you very much.
COATES: Stay safe.
LEMON: This is Don Lemon Tonight. And I am in Orlando, Florida.
And being here, seeing where the people of Florida are going through, what is really amazing is the amount of water. As I said last night, this has been a water storm. It's all about the water. Not so much wind, even though the wind has caused some damage, but it just, this hurricane dumped so much water on the state of Florida.
What you see behind me, all this water, these trees, they're usually, these trees are usually underwater behind me, so people would normally be walking by on this path that is also behind me right now. But now if you go there, you're at your own risk.
And the destruction it has caused here in Orlando is amazing, which is inland, and it didn't even see the worst of the fury of Hurricane Ian. There are whole neighborhoods, there are homes, everything people had in the world underwater right now.
Also, it is important to talk about the bravery of the first respond. These first responders risking their own lives, rescuing strangers, some of them people who stayed in their homes that were at risk, and I -- I went out on this small boat with Orange County Fire and Rescue earlier today. We saw the devastation. We talked with some of the people who chose not to leave their homes.
LEMON: I mean, if you look right here, this is a basketball goal, you know, eight, 10 feet tall and just poking out of the water here and you see the jungle gyms and swings or whatever, that just gives you an indication of how high the water is.
Why did you decide to stay?
ALEX WHITE, STAYED AT HOME IN ORLANDO: A lot of it had to do with, there weren't many places, like I know the shelters were open and they're relatively close by, but there weren't many places we could go with our stuff. I've got my dog in here too, and the flooding is more than we thought it would be.
LEMON: Yes, and we're still getting some of those winds now, but a lot more rain than wind. I want you to take a look at this as well. What you see from the air in community after community, what you have to see it to believe it. This storm leaving catastrophe in its wake after it made its way across the state.
At least 17 people dead tonight, there are fears that number will go up. Florida State Fire Marshal says that Hurricane Ian is likely the largest natural disaster in this state's history, and it is not over yet.
Ian has strengthened to a category one hurricane. Once again, taking aim at the South Carolina coast, a low country. Landfall expected there in a matter of hours.
And this just shows you the devastating power of the storm. Parts of Sanibel, the Sanibel Causeway completely washed away by Ian's storm surge. Now, there's no way to get on or, or off the island except by boat there.
And I want you to take a look at this rubble. It's all over Fort Myers Beach. Just a few days ago, this would've been a vacation paradise. Now just take a look at it. Unbelievable.
I want to get straight tonight to CNN's Bill Weir. He's got some of the first images in CNN of the hardest hit areas in this storm zone. Places now only accessible by boat.
Bill, good evening to you. It's good to see you safe and sound, my friend. You just got back from some of the hardest hit areas, places like Pine Island. Tell us about the devastation. What does you witness, sir?
BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: It was really rough, Don. Pine Island, the southern tip, there is a town called -- it is a town called St. James City, and that is where I saw truly some of the most devastation, not just of the -- of what we've seen today in Florida.
But in my career of covering these storms going back before Katrina, it was just a jumble of broken homes and cars and sunken boats and R.V.s in canals, and just the shattered pieces of so many people's lives spread everywhere, really just heartbreaking.
But on Sanibel Island where the construction is wealthier and stronger, it was not nearly the same level of obvious pain. You know, we walked around a little bit on Sanibel. There was the kind of damage you would see in a storm, but nothing to the scope as we've seen in some of the working-class neighborhoods around here and on the mainland and there in that, in St. James City. It was just breathtaking, Don.
LEMON: Yes. talk to me a little bit more, because I'm looking at the video. I -- this is you, I believe, you're walking around Sanibel Island cut off with parts of the causeway washed away, St. well, Sanibel Island you were in St. James. It's going to take a long time to rebuild. Right?
WEIR: Both. Incredible long time for some of these places. Now, you know, the causeway going to Sanibel Island from the mainland but a good 50, 60-foot chunk of that fell into the Gulf of Mexico. The highway leading up to that is completely ripped away.
So, that in itself is an engineering challenge that who knows how long that will take. So, until then, the only way to and from that island is helicopter or boat. And so, yes, that's just one little piece of it though. I mean, we drove down from Punta Gorda this morning and would drive for a dozen miles and not see a single standing power line.
It's not just a few poles are down, it's all of them four miles. Cell service, I don't know if you've experienced it. There's so many towers down. It's really hard to communicate which makes life that much more difficult.
And you know, there was a study that came out, I think this year that over three million work days will be lost in 2022 just from flooding. And you got to imagine that that number is going to jump up just based on this one storm, Don, because people have just the basic necessities stripped away from them, right now, much less thinking about getting back to work and all of that.
But we did see some amazing signs of pure humanity and resilience at the same time. And that's what these storms bring out, sort of the best and worst in us.
LEMON: Yes, I -- that's in the opening of the show and to Laura Coates, I was saying the exact same thing. It's amazing to witness and we always do every time we venture out to cover one of these catastrophic events. And you know who's always there as well, the Cajun Navy making rescues and you were out with them. Tell us about that, Bill. WEIR: Yes, so these guys, I remember them back in Katrina. We, there
was a sort of unofficial name. We've -- we called these, you know, bass fishermen and duck hunters who brought their flat bottom boats to try to help out. They have now sort of officiated their presence as officially a non-profit a few years ago.
The big storm Harvey in Houston where they really came into, into a claim. And so today we went out with them. There's also a -- some guys from Project Dynamo. These are -- these are civilians. These are a lot of ex-militaries, but pure volunteers who are coming down here either on their own dime with their own boats or with donations because these are non-profits just to try to save Americans.
Project Dynamo was rescuing Americans out of Ukraine and from the Taliban in Afghanistan all summer. He's on vacation over here trying to help Americans. But we went to that town I was telling you about, St. James City, and we went out looking for a couple, their daughter had called them, we're talking to them in the middle of the storm when it cut out and they had no idea what became of their elderly parents.
The father, Richard, he is an amputee. And so, they said, can the Cajun Navy go get them? And that's what we did. And here's a little -- here's this little sound with Mrs. Sharon as we made our way back to civilization.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY SHARON, LOCAL RESIDENT: My son was trying to get a hold as long as I was getting Texas says, I'm trying to get a hold of the na -- and the army, and this is the sheriff. I said, they say there's not going to, you know, I heard it that they weren't going to do anything after the bridge closed down. But my granddaughters are in Ohio and she was crying hysterical when I talked to her the course. We were thinking that you getting hurt. I said, no, there's no service.
SHARON: There's no service.
WEIR: that's the thing. The uncertainty brings so much fear and stress. Right.
SHARON: I knew it. And that's -- that had me more worried than what was going on at the time, what I was going through. Because I knew my family was worried.
WEIR: But I saw your neighborhood. My God, what was it like to go through that?
SHARON: No, it was worse. There were two trucks that came and they cleared everything.
WEIR: It was worse than what we saw.
SHARON: It was all on the -- on the road.
WEIR: Is that right? Yes.
SHARON: Yes. It was all on the road and they came and they asked us if we needed anything and we said we're OK. She was trying to get ahold of my son. They didn't have no phone service either, you know? But overall, we got nervous, but I wasn't like terrified. I don't know. For some reason I have faith in God and I said, we're going to make it
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WEIR: Now it's Nancy and Robert Sharon and they were so grateful to get that boat ride to shore, Don, and it was so nice to see these volunteers, you know, who say, look for us, it's Thursday. For them, it's the worst day of their lives. And much the way when you call the fire department, nobody asks you who you vote for. They come to help you and there's that spirit now we're seeing where --
WEIR: -- after storms like this, where people suffer together, it really draws the best out of folks and neighbors helping neighbors and strangers helping strangers. It was really uplifting on what was a brutal day for so many people.
LEMON: Yes, right on. Bill, you're right. No one asked today who we voted for, who we worked for. They were just happy that we were there to show the rescuers and the volunteers and to show the world what was happening to them, and how they were getting along even at the worst of times.
Bill Weir, great work. Thank you. Keep it up and be safe, my friend.
So, I want to show you this. You're looking at video. It's coming into CNN. It's of Orange County officials. They're rescuing 200 people from an elder care facility today. First responders have been working nonstop all across Florida to help people who are in danger.
I mean, these people are really doing God's work. And then earlier today, I got an up-close look at what they're dealing with. Watch this.
LEMON: This is what we're seeing now in Orlando, rescues from people who have been stuck in their homes, one of the boats that they're using if you go around here, you can see all the folks who are -- who are on the scene, and the people who have been rescued here.
How are you doing? What do you think about all this?
DAVID PHILLIPS, RESCUED FROM HOME: It's kind of crazy. I'm actually been trained community emergency response team, and we have did the training here in the park for this type of thing, but it's like no one can plan for this type of thing. LEMON: There are people who are waiting in the water, this very
dangerous water to try to get these people out. The water really in some places neck-deep for some of these folks who are going in.
And it's dangerous because we're being told by the rescue people here to be careful because there are gators in this water. We're out with Lieutenant Fernando. And lieutenant, say your name --
JAMES ROTONDI, LIEUTENANT, ORANGE COUNTY FIRE RESCUE: Rotondi.
LEMON: Rotondi. And they have been going in, we're told it's been at least 150 rescues from this area.
FERNANDO ASTACIO, LIEUTENANT, ORANGE COUNTY FIRE RESCUE: Yes.
LEMON: For folks.
ASTACIO: Yes. At least 200 starting in about 4.30, 5 o'clock this morning.
LEMON: So, you launch here and you don't know what's under this water, how deep it is or what you're going to hit.
ASTACIO: Absolutely not. at the start of this morning, part of the big issues that we had is, is navigating these waters, even though we know we're in a neighborhood and, you know, the streets, you know, dictate where we go. We've got, you know, hidden mailboxes, culverts.
LEMON: The street signs, right?
LEMON: Here you can see how --
LEMON: -- where they are.
LEMON: I mean, some of them are covered and others are just peeking out of the top here. So, explain what, how this area is prone to flooding.
LEMON: But it's gotten more water this time. I think the highest --
LEMON: -- water level so far.
ASTACIO: This is -- this is the highest it's ever been. It happened some five years ago and these three lakes that, these small lakes they joined together by small canals, it crested sometime early this morning. And this whole area here is a super low-lying area. This one and the neighborhood we were at this morning, which was all
single-family dwellings, completely devastated, completely underwater.
LEMON: I mean, if you look right here, this is a basketball goal, you know, eight, 10 feet tall and just poking out of the water here and you see the jungle gyms and swings or whatever. that just gives you an indication of how high the water is.
When you -- what are folks saying? They said that they -- I understand, Lieutenant, that the pumps went out and they said they had electricity, but the pumps even went out before the electricity.
ROTONDI: I think, I believe that's what it was, that they failed.
ASTACIO: Yes, the pumps may have failed this time, yes, the pumps failed.
ROTONDI: I believe so.
LEMON: And how much, how -- how much water do you think they've gotten in here so far?
ASTACIO: No. We're looking from, just -- just from looking right now, we're looking eight feet of water, six, eight feet of water at minimum. The neighborhood that we were at this morning, single family dwellings --
LEMON: Look at this back here.
ASTACIO: -- were -- were halfway underwater.
LEMON: Yes. I mean, and look at this. This is usually a street. This, I mean, this looks like a river, you know, that you're usually our tributary that you're usually navigating through on a boat. that's not meant to be, you know, a waterway.
But we we're also told that many people decided to stay. What are they saying when they get on the boat?
ROTONDI: Well, a lot of them are, you know, they want to stay because it's their home. It means a lot to them, you know, and a lot of these people they've lost a lot. So, you know, those that do come into the boat, they're very thankful that we were there to aid to them.
LEMON: I mean, look, if there's the folks right here, Lieutenant, the mailbox and then the car --
LEMON: -- still in the driveway and the --
LEMON: Imagine a malfunction with the battery or whatever and the lights are still on.
ASTACIO: Yes. We've run into that all day. We started -- when we started this morning, it was in the, you know, pitch dark, and all the cars were just, all of them, alarms going off, lights going on. No control at all.
ROTONDI: Some of them you can just barely see the top of the roof.
LEMON: I mean, it's unbelievable. If you turn around here, look at these cars and the mailboxes, I mean, and there are people who are still inside of some of these homes.
Alex, why did you decide to stay?
WHITE: A lot of it had to do with, there weren't many places, like I know the shelters were open and they're relatively close by, but there weren't many places we could go with our stuff. I've got my dog in here too, and the flooding is more than we thought it would be. But I still, I don't feel terribly, terribly, like my house is about to float away. It's pretty sturdy, been through things before.
LEMON: This much water though, ever?
WHITE: This much water, no. Like I said, the level that it's at right now was very surprising and it came in very fast. I was awake last night and it was still in the road around six, and by seven, it was up to the first stair down here. So, the, it did rise very fast, but it's been decently stagnant for the past few hours.
LEMON: Is it, has it reached your floor?
WHITE: No, it's not inside yet. All of our, and again, there's other people around, we've all been waving and checking in on each other. We're all mainly concerned about our cars, because our cars are shut.
LEMON: Listen, it's really fascinating because you understand how people feel that they don't want to leave their homes and their belongings, but then, you know, they are putting their lives at risk, but it is really their choice.
As I had been reporting since yesterday, the fire department had been going around in fire trucks on bullhorns, urging people, pleading with them to leave their homes. that was before the worst came in, and then at a certain point, you know, you just, you can't leave. You're stuck there.
I had not been able to go back to that neighborhood to check on people, but the water was still rising. It was still raining, and they said, you know, they would -- if it indeed got to a point where they would leave, they would get on a boat, but at a certain point the boats don't come anymore.
So, I hope that they're okay at this moment. We know that there are still rescues going on all over Central Florida, all over the Orange County and Orlando region right now.
Let's get straight now to CNN's Tom Sater in the CNN weather center. Tom, I appreciate you joining us this evening once again.
TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Sure.
LEMON: Ian, as we have been reporting, has strengthened again to a category one. What does this mean for South Carolina at this point?
SATER: Well, Don, it means our third landfall, the first one in Cuba, knocking out power to the entire country. We know what happened in southwest Florida, and now they're bracing along the South Carolina coastline, which is extremely vulnerable to of these types of tropical systems, especially a hurricane.
Now, we haven't read here our hurricane warnings. It's basically from Cape Fear, North Carolina, down to the border of Georgia. But notice in blue here, I mean, this is a tropical storm warning. that means tropical storm force winds and conditions will be well inland all the way to Columbia, to Charlotte, to Raleigh.
There's going to be some power outages. I mean, we've got tens of thousands of search and rescue teams, as you know, all throughout Florida, not just at landfall, but where we had so many crazy rain events. More in that in a minute.
On the infrared satellite imagery, it doesn't look very impressive. Last couple frames trying to show some red, that means some, still some convective activity. It's trying to get itself organized. The rain has just about left the peninsula now. We still have a northeast wind up to the northeastern area, so still trying to push that water on shore not like it did earlier.
But all of the rain is, Don, is on the northern and northwestern flank. It has not encircled the center, so it's still a hurricane. It's just not as well organized, but it's still going to bring the same effects. It will not bring this however. This is what happened, and this is that northern flank of rain that we were talking about areas here of purple 10 to 20 inches.
This is where we talk about two and a half to three months' worth of rain fell in this area. The odds of that are happening, a one in 1,000-year event. We had six of them this summer, and now we have them all across Florida. We've got a category one.
Now timing means everything with this. We believe it'll be sometime afternoon. We want it to be. The reason we want it to be later is they're high and low tide. It's much different on the Atlantic coastline than it is on the Gulf. It can vary up and down the coast. We're looking at a four to seven-foot surge here. Charleston floods at
a king tide. It floods if you get four inches of rainfall. Elevation is zero, but the high and low tide mean everything. At 11.41, it's high tide. If this landfall is at noon, that means that surge will be four to seven feet in. If it's a low tide, then maybe, just maybe we'll only get a couple of feet.
Look at the inundation map here at Charleston. You can see just how much in all the rivers. The Ashley, the Cooper, the Wando. Anybody who lives along these waterways is looking at three to maybe even six feet. Now a lot of that'll be some marshy areas, but again, Don, you know, historic Charleston.
They are going to be inundated and I know that emergency services are standing by because we may have many more 911 calls, many more water rescues because you get another six to eight inches of rain on top of that. And Don, the winds are 600 miles wide for tropical storm force winds. that's twice as wide as it was at landfall and they'll be moving in and there will be hurricane winds with this as well moving in to the historic city of Charleston.
LEMON: Wow. I mean, it is just incredible, Tom Sater. We'll check back, Tom. Thank you very much for that.
I just kind of want to show you again where we are. This is Lake Eola behind us, the famous Lake Eola. These trees aren't usually in the water here. About 50 feet out is where the lake usually starts. This is a walking or running path, that were, and normally you would see folks here, and this is an event space.
If you can look, I don't know if you can see it, but there is an event space back here to my left that is usually not underwater. And it is underwater right now. So, you can just see how this inland flooding has affected downtown Orlando, the downtown Orlando area.
And as Tom was talking about the water here, listen, I have been living through hurricanes for 50 some odd years and covering them for at least 20 years. I have never seen such a rain event as this. Ian just sat on top of the state of Florida and dumped buckets and buckets and feet and feet of rain in hours.
Let's get back to what's happening in Florida. We told you what's happening in the Carolinas. Now in Florida. Catastrophic damage in Fort Myers. A lot of people don't have homes to go back to.
CNN's Derek Van Dam is on the scene. that is next. We'll be right back.
LEMON: We're back now live. Hurricane Ian causing catastrophic damage in Fort Myers, Florida. Let's get straight now to CNN's Derek Van Dam. Derek is on the scene.
Derek, good evening to you, sir. Fort Myers there. Boats flipped over and on shore, businesses torn apart. Tell us what you have seen.
DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Don, using the words of the Fort Myers mayor saying that his city looked like a war zone. And my team and I as we approach this area, we can echo that sentiment.
What you're looking at behind me is just a drop in the bucket of the devastation that was unleashed on this particular city, especially in the Fort Myers Beach area, which is about 16 miles to my south and southeast. The city of Fort Myers did not fare that well either.
You can clearly see behind us what has happened here at the yacht basin along the riverside. It is just incredible. There is a boil water notice for the city, the drinking water is no longer usable. There is also a mandatory curfew through tomorrow evening for this particular area, and you can imagine why.
Just driving around with my producer earlier this evening and we saw traffic signals, traffic lights dangling in the middle of intersections, completely darkened. I mean, it came across us so quickly. And you can imagine just how dangerous that is.
So, what you're looking at behind me is again, the yacht basin and the Fort Myers Yacht Basin. And these boats behind me have just literally been tossed around by -- like toys by the storm surge. Now it's important that you see this from the sky as well, because we're going to take you there.
And this aerial footage just shows you how Mother Nature's force and its fury unleashed itself on this area as the storm surge was predicted. But unfortunately, it was realized. It tossed these boats like they were toys into several blocks inland from fort -- the Fort Myers location.
In fact, one of the docks made out of concrete was actually pushed inland. And there were also boats wedged between buildings. Just incredible amount of power. They had eight, seven to eight feet of storm surge here in Fort Myers. Some of the gauges broken in Naples.
So, there's still going to be some assessments to determine just how high that storm surge actually was, but it was a terrifying night. Talking to some of the residents that rode off this storm, they can't stay here. There's no food, there's no water, and the communications and electricity is sparse at best, and we have certainly experienced that as well, running off of generator powers as we speak.
Don, it's been a difficult time for people here. It's going to take not weeks, not months, potentially years to recover from a disaster of this magnitude.
LEMON: Yes. Wow. Derek Van Dam in Fort Myers, Derek, thank you very much. I appreciate it.
As Derek just laid out, Fort Myers suffering some of the worst damage from Hurricane Ian. I'm going to talk with an official there who rode out the storm on higher ground. that's next.
LEMON: So, we're back now live in Orland. We have some stunning video to show you. It's out of Fort Myers Beach, Florida. And I want you to take a look at this. This is destruction as far as the eye can see. And check out, this is drone video of Fort Myers. These homes and business there decimated. Florida's governor says some homes are now just concrete slabs.
So, joining me now is Dan Allers. Dan Allers is the city councilman for Fort Myers Beach, and he joins me now via phone. I appreciate you joining us, Dan. I really do.
I know it's an incredibly busy and emotional time for everyone here in Florida. Fort Myers Beach has been devastated. You have been out in the community, and you've taken some pictures of the aftermath. We're showing those now, they're up on the screen. How extensive is the damage, sir?
DAN ALLERS, CITY COUNCILMAN FOR FORT MYERS BEACH, FLORIDA: As far as I've walked today, I've made it about two-thirds down the island. I would say 90 percent of the island is pretty much gone unless you have a, you know, high rise condo or a newer concrete home that is built to FEMA standards today, your house is pretty much gone as well as businesses. It's pretty devastating.
LEMON: Ninety percent, Dan? Wow.
ALLERS: that would be -- that would be my estimate, yes. I walked, like I said, probably four or five miles down the island. And from what I saw just, you know, and our island is only seven miles long. About two-thirds of it, every home pretty much on the beach is gone.
There's craters where the main road that runs through our island has carved into the craters that have been sucked out into the gulf. Some of the homes on the side streets are completely gone, and there's nothing but a hole with water. Some homes just have pillars standing there, some concrete grade level homes. The block is completely gone and just a pile of rubble. It's like something I've never seen.
LEMON: Yes. And what about the loss of life, Dan? Do you know anything about that? What can you tell us?
ALLERS: We have had, I know there's been -- I don't know the numbers, but we have had some confirmed deaths. I don't -- I don't know how many. I know we are able to get one person out of a house earlier as I was walking around, two people had -- had spotted the person or heard the person. And the, myself, and three others were able to get him out and he seems to be doing okay. I guess he was taken in and he'll, he'll be fine. But I fear there's many, many more that are not going to be so lucky. LEMON: Wow. Awful. Dan, I want to put up these images for our viewers to see. These are before and after images of Fort Myers Beach and they show near total destruction. As you said, you believe, it's 90 percent gone. I understand that you wrote out this storm on higher ground, and you discovered that your own home was lost as well.
ALLERS: Yes, I was able to, to make it down there earlier late this morning, and just to at least get some eyes on it. And everything obviously inside was gone. The structured itself seems to be there. It looks to me that we might be able to rebuild, but, so we were -- we were one of the fortunate ones for a home that was on, you know, was on grade level and not up on the stilts, but many others were -- many others were not.
It was -- it was very interesting depending how your -- your street faced and the streets that I went down, some streets were completely devastated. We had one street that I think there was three houses left on it, and they were all concrete homes.
Another street you went down and there was a couple that looked like they were barely even touched, but that you could tell that they had severe water damage on the inside. So, it's just a matter of, you know, our entertainment district, some of the businesses that have been there for decades and decades are gone. There's literally nothing but sanded. The pillars are gone, the stairs are gone. It's like they were never there.
LEMON: Dan, I can -- I'm not exactly sure what I'm picking up in your voice. I don't know if it's fatigue or it could be a combination of fatigue, if it's just resolve to the fact of what happened. But what are you, what are you feeling now? What do you want people to know about what you're going through and your neighbors and friends and loved ones?
ALLERS: Well, you know, it's not so much about what I'm going through. I, you know, I'm able to get out there and see and talk to people and hear their stories and help where I can help. And, as I said, I was fortunate I was able to ride out the storm in a fairly safe. My wife and I were safe. We didn't, we didn't have any issues, even though the water came up to about the second floor.
A lot of our friends and you know, island residents were not so lucky. They were -- they were in a second level home, but it wasn't to, you know, current FEMA standards. And unfortunately, those are the people that lost their lives.
And, you know, by the time the water starts coming into that level, it's too late for them. All they can do is hope. I've heard stories of people getting in freezers and floating the fleet -- freezers to another home, being rescued by higher homes.
I've heard the gentleman that we pulled out from under the rubble, he cling to his mattress and floated his mattress, tried to float his mattress out of the house before it collapsed on him, and it ultimately pinned him down. You know, I've heard countless stories of people that have lost everything and, you know, people think, well, when the house is gone, you think, wow, it's just the stuff is gone.
But no, these houses are legitimately gone. They're, they're nowhere to be found. The man grows in the back bay are solid with homes and debris and boats. The shrimping fleet is completely up off onshore and piled up.
Search and rescue have been out all day nonstop flying overhead, rescuing who they can. They're still flying over. We've started to see some Coast Guard, medical helicopters now flying over. There's people from all different counties here helping and it's just a -- it's just catastrophic.
LEMON: Yes. Dan, I'm so sorry and we really appreciate you joining us. You be well. Take care. And again, we're sorry for what you're having to deal with. We appreciate you sharing it, your story and others, your community with the world. Thanks so much.
ALLERS: I appreciate it. Thank you.
LEMON: Thanks. So, multiple deaths from hurricane reported in Charlotte County, Florida. What's being done to help people there? I'm going to talk with the county commissioner. that is next.
LEMON: So, Hurricane Ian really bringing serious destruction all across Florida. Charlotte County. among the many areas of suffering from Ian's wrath. Cities seeing significant damage include Port Charles and Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte, I should say, in Punta Gorda, the roof completely torn off of some of the businesses there. Others are experiencing serious flooding.
For more now on the damage I want to bring in Charlotte County Commissioner Chris Constance. Commissioner, I appreciate you joining us. Sorry for what has happened to your community.
CNN has a death toll in Charlotte County, at least eight to nine people. What information do you have for us?
CHRIS CONSTANCE, COMMISSIONER, CHARLOTTE COUNTY, FLORIDA: Don thanks for having me and I really do appreciate.
The devastation that's happened everywhere, I just heard that last segment from Fort Myers Beach and it's just been incredible. We had a death toll confirmed this morning of six. It has risen to 10 now. A lot of these deaths or most of these deaths are not related to direct flooding or damage to homes, but more because people sheltered and that EMS crews, when the storms got really bad, could not get to folks.
I myself heeded the evacuation warning. I'm in the city of Punta Gorda right by where we thought we were going to get flooding, and so I evacuated to the East Coast.
But you know, I'm also a physician in town and I work at the hospital where the roof was compromised and, it was very surreal to see, Dr. Bodine (ph), who's a colleague plead, you know, with her pleads for help. Please for help on your network. Just very, very heartbreaking to see all of that going on.
And now, unfortunately, we have three hospitals and now we're down to one. We evacuated one of the hospitals in Punta Gorda because we thought that was going to be under a surge situation. Fortunately for us, unfortunately for our neighbors to the south, they got the brunt of it.
So now if we can get power and water back to that hospital facility, we can ease some of that pain, but right now. We are -- we are -- we are swamped. And it just doesn't even begin --
CONSTANCE: -- to talk about the issues that we're having countywide.
LEMON: Yes, we are looking at the -- some of the damage now from that hospital. Chris, can you talk to us more about the damage there and how much harder it's making the search and recovery efforts.
CONSTANCE: So, we're working at trying to open up the roadways. Our primary and secondary roads are fairly open, but we're probably only, I would estimate 30 to 40 percent. We're still trying to get into those back neighborhoods. There's been a lot of flooding, power lines down.
We have folks that are just isolated. They don't have power, they don't have water, whatever limited food they have, and we're trying to stage up and get to them. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.
We're -- we're hoping that folks don't return if they're in a safe place because we're trying to get the crews to be on the roads and do the assessments. We're -- we're standing up with the help of the National Guard locations which will soon be disclosed for water and ready-to-eat meals and things of that fashion and in stage locations around the county. Because we know that's going to be the next urgent we need.
LEMON: Yes, Chris, you take care and I hope you guys get the help that you need. And we're so sorry about the devastation, the destruction, the death you're dealing with. You be well. Thank you.
CONSTANCE: Thank you, sir. I appreciate you having us on.
LEMON: A resident of Inglewood, Florida returning to her home this morning only to find massive destruction. She had to clear debris just to get into her own house. Her story is next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: So more than 2.5 million Florida residents found themselves
under some sort of evacuation order ahead of Hurricane Ian. And although many fled, others stayed.
My next guest and others they rode out this storm. So, joining me now is Andrea Angier, who is in Inglewood, Florida. Angier, thank you. Andrea Angier, thank you so much, Andrea. I really appreciate you joining us.
What is going on right now and how are you and your family holding up?
ANDREA ANGIER, RODE OUT HURRICANE IAN, INGLEWOOD, FLORIDA: Right now, we're doing OK. It was pretty rough. I've lived here a little over 20 years. I've been through Charlie. I've been through Irma. This one was a big one. The wind, the just sound like a train coming through, the roof is going off.
Just seeing our friends' houses that disappeared. Our local -- sorry, our local theater for the kids, that's gone. It's -- it's just, I don't even know how to explain it. Caroline is down. Just, I don't know. Everything is on the way.
LEMON: How are you, I got to ask you from was just listening to you, Andrea. How you doing?
ANGIER: I'm doing OK. It's just taking it in because you know, we've been through storms and it seemed like a normal thing. And then when we woke up today, it was just completely different than what we've ever been through.
ANGIER: that's the only way I can describe it.
LEMON: You say, you know, a similar sentiment as many of the people I spoke to today, they said they've lived here all of their lives and they've never seen anything like it. You just said that you've been there for 20 years and --
ANGIER: Yes, exactly. And our work, it's where I work --
ANGIER: -- it's closed for at least a month. I mean, power and water, they're saying it's going to be weeks. So, I have no idea.
LEMON: Yes. Yes. Are you still -- are you still going to get paid?
ANGIER: No, not where I'm working. They can't. It's -- it's local, so they can't afford that.
LEMON: What are you going to do to make ends meet and survive?
ANGIER: Well, there's not much you can do if there's nothing open. So, I will volunteer, you know, and help clean everything up to get it going faster. Other than that, I don't know. I don't want to evacuate.
LEMON: So, you have damaged -- yes.
ANGIER: I live in Inglewood --
LEMON: So, you have damaged to your home --
ANGIER: I live in Inglewood but I work in Venice.
LEMON: Go on, go on, Andrea. Sorry. Yes. Yes. There's a delay. I understand that your home is damaged, but also your -- you said your boyfriend's brother lives next door. His home is completely gone as well.
ANGIER: And it's done.
LEMON: Or at least severely damaged.
ANGIER: Yes, true. It's -- it's severely damaged. It's going to be completely done. The whole community that we live in, probably 75 percent of the community is just done. Just wiped out.
LEMON: Yes. Well, Andrea, listen, we want you to take care and as I've been saying to all of my guests, we're so sorry that you're having to deal with this, but we're being told by every single person who is an officials and people who live here. This is a once in a lifetime event. Let's hope it's the -- the only time in your lifetime that you'll have to deal -- deal with something this severe. Thank you. You do well. And everyone, we'll be right back.
ANGIER: Absolutely. We -- we appreciate you and we appreciate the National Guards that came through to check on us too.
LEMON: Yes, I agree with you a 100 percent. Thank you.
ANGIER: Thank you.
LEMON: Back in a moment.