. Our earlier coverage is below.
Ian, a hurricane again after regaining strength, is forecast to hit South Carolina, where a hurricane warning was issued for the entire coast. It left massive destruction in Florida.
The National Hurricane Center warns that Ian could bring a "life-threatening" storm surge to South Carolina. Not only that, but "flooding rains" are "likely across the Carolinas and southern Virginia."
And Ian isn't done with Florida: "Major to record river flooding will continue across central Florida through next week," the center predicted.
CBS News confirmed six storm-related deaths in Florida as of early Friday morning.
Ian "could be the deadliest hurricane in Florida's history," President Biden said Thursday.
"The numbers are still unclear, but we're hearing early reports of what could be substantial loss of life," the president said after receiving a briefing from FEMA officials.
Ian's core was about 145 miles south-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, as of 5 a.m. Friday. It was moving north-northeast at 9 mph, with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, the hurricane center said.
Ian is forecast to make landfall somewhere near Charleston, South Carolina, mid-afternoon on Friday, CBS News meteorologist David Parkinson said.
But it should "rapidly weaken" late Friday and early Saturday, the hurricane center said, as it moves inland across the Carolinas.
On Wednesday, Ian made landfall in southwestern Florida as a major Category 4 hurricane, then tore across the state. It was one of the strongest hurricanes ever to hit the U.S.
People were trapped in homes. Videos and images showed devastating flooding. More than 2 million homes and businesses were without power Friday morning, according to poweroutage.us.
Woman wades through chest-high floodwaters to check on stranger's mom
Christine Bomlitz became more and more distraught as Hurricane Ian gained in ferocity Wednesday, sweeping across southwest Florida. Hours passed, but there was still no word from her 84-year-old mother.
Thursday morning came. The storm had drifted away overnight. But still no word.
Stuck on the other side of the country in Las Vegas, Bomlitz posted pleas for help on social media - anywhere she could. Can someone check on her mother?
Bomlitz had no way to contact her mom, Shirley Affolter, who lost her cell phone before the storm. Then her landline went down. With nowhere to go, she hunkered down for the night. Before the storm, an evacuation vehicle had missed her on its route.
By Thursday afternoon, a Good Samaritan came to the rescue.
Cheynne Prevatt, 26, had sustained damage to her own home during the storm. But the Florida resident waded into chest-high floodwaters to search for Affolter.
Flooding in Englewood, Florida, had cut the mother off from her neighbors and the rest of her community. She couldn't escape on her own because she needs a walker to get around.
When Prevatt walked through the door, there was relief. The woman was alive and safe. Prevatt said: "I didn't know who she was, but she was really kind of surprised to see me."
Mother and daughter were able to speak briefly on the phone, enough to ease Bomlitz's worries.
Boy who evacuated falls to his death from 19-floor balcony
An 11-year-old boy who'd evacuated with his family from Jacksonville due to Hurricane Ian was killed when he fell from a 19th-story condominium balcony in Panama City Beach, Florida, town officials said.
It happened at the Sterling Reef Thursday afternoon.
He was already dead when rescue crews arrived, officials said, adding that foul play wasn't suspected.
In Fort Myers, devastation abounds
The Fort Myers area was particularly hard-hit by Ian. The hurricane ripped homes from their slabs and deposited them among shredded wreckage. Businesses near the beach were completely razed, leaving twisted debris. Broken docks floated at odd angles beside damaged boats. Fires smoldered on lots where houses once stood.
"I don't know how anyone could have survived in there," William Goodison said amid the wreckage of a mobile home park in Fort Myers Beach where he'd lived for 11 years. Goodison said he was alive only because he rode out the storm at his son's house inland.
The hurricane tore through the park of about 60 homes, leaving many destroyed or mangled beyond repair, including Goodison's single-wide home. Wading through waist-deep water, Goodison and his son wheeled two trash cans containing what little he could salvage - a portable air conditioner, some tools and a baseball bat.
The road into Fort Myers was littered with broken trees, boat trailers and other debris. Cars were left abandoned in the road, having stalled when the storm surge flooded their engines.
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said his office was scrambling to respond to thousands of 911 calls in the Fort Myers area, but many roads and bridges were impassable.
Emergency crews sawed through toppled trees to reach stranded people. Many in the hardest-hit areas were unable to call for help because of electrical and cellular outages.
A, cutting off access to the barrier island where 6,300 people live.
Biden declares state of emergency for South Carolina
As Hurricane Ian headed for a forecast landfall over South Carolina, President Biden issued an emergency declaration for the state late Thursday night.
It lets FEMA work with state, tribal, and local agencies to help locals cope with the anticipated damage.
"Specifically," the White House said, "FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency."
Small protests pop up in Havana over blackout
A few hundred Cubans took to the streets Thursday night in Havana demanding the restoration of electricity, protesting more than two days after a blackout hit the entire island following the passage of Hurricane Ian.
An Associated Press journalist saw a total of about 400 people gathered in at least two spots in the Cerro neighborhood shouting, "We want light, we want light," and banging pots and pans.
It was the first public outpouring of anger after electricity problems spread from western Cuba, where Ian hit, and knocked out all of the island's power grid Tuesday night, leaving its 11 million people in the dark. The storm also left three people dead and caused still unquantified damage.
In addition to power problems in Havana on Thursday, Internet service was out and cellphones didn't work
At one of the protests, on Primellef Street, police arrived, but demonstrators remained on one of the corners. About 10 blocks away, on the Calzada del Cerro, other protesters surrounded a work team trying to repair a pole and a light transformer.
The two groups of protesters were still in the streets late into the night, but the gatherings remained peaceful.
In July 2021, Cuba saw its largest social protests in decades. Thousands of people, weary of power failures and shortages of goods exacerbated byand U.S. sanctions, turned out in cities across the island to vent their anger and some also lashed out at the government. Hundreds were arrested and prosecuted, prompting harsh criticism of the administration of President Miguel Diaz-Canel.
The government hasn't said what percentage of the population remained without electricity, but electrical authorities said only 10% of Havana's 2 million people had power Thursday.
Damaged Florida businesses, tourist attractions face major rebuilding challenge
Walt Disney World and other tourist attractions in central Florida appeared to have avoided severe damage from Hurricane Ian. But many businesses on the state's southwestern coast were hammered and face a long rebuilding process.
In Fort Myers, video posted on social media showed the Times Square, a colorful area of shops and restaurants, leveled by the storm. Sanibel, a barrier island dotted with resorts and connected to Fort Myers by a causeway, was devastated.
Carol Dover, president of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, paused in the middle of an interview to watch live television, and was relieved to see the Westin Cape Coral Resort along the marina in Fort Myers still standing.
"But now everything that they are showing on CNN is flattened. I don't see anything but rubble," she gasped. "We have a lot of rebuilding to do, and it's not done in a month. This sometimes takes years."
Ian came ashore in southwest Florida as a Category 4 hurricane accompanied by storm surges that left thousands trapped by flooding and millions without power. As it moved inland and weakened — eventually to a tropical storm — high winds and heavy rain continued. But theme parks and other tourism magnets in central Florida appeared to have dodged crippling harm.
In the Orlando area, Walt Disney World and other attractions that had closed ahead of the storm remained shuttered, and it was unclear when they would reopen.
Florida's leisure and hospitality sector accounts for nearly 1.3 million jobs, a 9.6% increase from a year ago, according to figures from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. Most of those jobs are in lodging and food services, and they have helped cut Florida's unemployment rate to 2.7% in August — a full percentage point lower than the national average — from 4.3% a year earlier.
Orlando International Airport to reopen Friday
Orlando International Airport will reopen Friday, two days after it was forced to close due to Hurricane Ian, officials confirmed.
The airport reported Thursday evening that it would resume flights beginning at noon Eastern time on Friday. All roads leading to the airport will also reopen. Departing travelers were asked not to arrive at the airport until at least 10 a.m.
The decision to reopen was made after a "thorough investigation of any property damage, and a careful consideration for the safety and security of the traveling public and airport employees," the airport said in a statement.
The airport has been closed since Wednesday morning.
Tampa and Jacksonville international airports also announced they would reopen Friday.
Hurricane Ian likely to make landfall near Charleston as Category 1 storm
Hurricane Ian is forecasted to make landfall at about 2 p.m. Friday near Charleston, South Carolina, CBS News meteorologist David Parkinson said on "Red and Blue" Thursday evening.
The storm is not expected to strengthen much overnight Thursday, meaning it will likely arrive in South Carolina as a Category 1 storm.
Once it makes landfall, Ian will move inland, significantly weakening. However, the system still has a lot of moisture and will bring heavy rainfall to portions of the state, and even up into North Carolina. Its storm surge is expected to be between 4 and 7 feet.
DeSantis says authorities working to restore power and clean water to several counties
During a Thursday night press conference, Gov. Ron DeSantis detailed what state and federal agencies are doing to help residents impacted by Hurricane Ian. He said conditions across Florida vary, but they are working to get everyone what they need.
In Lee County, the largest issue now is that residents do not have access to clean water, DeSantis said. Local officials there requested federal assistance, and FEMA and others are now helping fix damaged water treatment facilities. Additionally, officials are transporting hundreds of thousands of gallons of water to health care facilities in that county.
Power outages also remain a major concern. Certain parts of Florida have downed lines, while others will have to rebuild their infrastructure from the ground up, the governor said.
But to officials' astonishment, DeSantis said, "the road situation is by and large really good."
Officials are rapidly deploying supplies, such as cots, blankets, tarps and bottled water, to people in need, DeSantis said. According to Florida's first lady, the Florida Disaster Fund has already raised $10 million, which will help authorities get resources to people quickly. She gave a special shoutout to Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, who shared the link for the fund on his social media accounts.
During the Thursday night press conference, State Division of Emergency Management director Kevin Guthrie told residents to be patient, as authorities are working around the clock to help residents.
Guthrie also asked residents not to go out and explore damage, and not to operate drones in areas where authorities are flying.
DeSantis believes that most school districts will reopen by either Friday or Monday.
200 people being rescued from assisted living facilities
Orange County Fire and Rescue said Thursday evening it was rescuing 200 people from assisted living facilities in Orlando.
The department shared photos of rescuers lugging equipment through several inches of water.
It was not immediately clear why the facilities were being evacuated or whether anyone was injured.
Cubans suffer as Hurricane Ian-caused power outage goes on
Ivette Garrido is considering giving the chicken left in her freezer to her three dogs as a huge power blackout caused by Hurricane Ian extends beyond two days, thawing everything in her freezer.
"We are not having a very good time, trying to survive, to keep things from thawing," said Garrido, who lives with her mother and a 19-year-old daughter in the town of Cojimar on the outskirts of Havana.
Hundreds of thousands of Cubans are facing similar situations.
"Either swim or drown": Crews rescue trapped residents
Residents of central Florida woke to high winds and catastrophic flooding, forcing hundreds of people to flee their homes.
In some cases, people were carried to safety by rescuers. One woman cried in relief to escape the flood waters.
"We're going to bring them out to higher ground and then we're going to be shuttling them to shelters," Osceola County Sheriff Marcos R. Lopez said.
Rescue crews also raced to evacuate residents of an Orlando nursing home, where rising waters.
A woman and her 72-year-old mother were forced to swim out a window to reach safety. "You have to, like, either swim or drown," the woman said.
Another two people were plucked from their sailboat overnight as dramatic rescues took place across the region.
Florida residents flee floodwaters
It was an emotional moment for Kim Silva, who reunited with her family after riding out her first hurricane alone.
"I just started crying," she said.
After Hurricane Ian flooded her North Port home, Michelle Robinson waded through waist high water with her bulldog, Daisy, riding in her kayak.
"The dog and I slept on the bar in the kitchen, like the island," Robinson said of sleeping on her countertop.
Tom Brady and Tampa Bay Buccaneers owners donating to hurricane relief funds
The owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — the Glazer family — tweeted Thursday evening that they will donate $1 million "to assist in relief efforts following Hurricane Ian." The money will be dispersed among various organizations, the family added.
"The destruction suffered in Southwest Florida and the damage inflicted throughout our state will be felt for some time," Darcie Glazer Kassewitz wrote. "It will take entire communities resiliently working together for an extended period of time and our family is committed to aiding in the recovery."
The team's quarterback, Tom Brady, tweeted he'd be donating to the Florida Disaster Fund "to get things started, and I'm hoping the rest of the NFL family in our state will follow suit."
He shared a link to the fund's website.
Alligators, bears and snakes are a few reasons to stay out of floodwaters, officials say
Hurricane Ian has caused widespreadin Florida, leaving much of the state drowning in several feet of water as it . With floodwaters still raging, officials have warned residents to stay indoors and avoid going into it at all costs — and dangerous wildlife is a big reason why.
"Flood water is dangerous," the Collier County government tweeted on Thursday afternoon. "We've received reports of sewage, alligators and snakes in flood water in our community. Please stay away."
Florida Fish and Wildlife officials said Tuesday that "major storms cause wildlife to become more active."
How World Central Kitchen is responding to Hurricane Ian
The nonprofit World Central Kitchen, which helps feed people in disaster areas around the world, is providing fresh meals in communities impacted by Hurricane Ian. CBS News spoke with the organization's Florida lead, Fiona Donovan, about their response.
Jacksonville International Airport to reopen Friday
Jacksonville International Airport will reopen Friday after being shuttered all day Thursday due to Hurricane Ian, officials said.
The airport tweeted that "some airlines will operate on reduced schedules" Friday. Travelers were advised to check their flight status online before heading to the airport.
The airport had announced late Wednesday that all Thursday's flights had been canceled.
Sanibel mayor pens emotional message: "Our lives and our island have been forever changed"
The destruction thatwhen it hit Sanibel Island on Wednesday as a Category 4 storm was catastrophic, with damage so severe that the island has been cut off from Florida's mainland. The wreckage led the city's mayor to pen an emotional letter to residents on Thursday, in which she said Sanibel is "forever changed."
"I am struggling to find the words to convey my feelings, as I am sure most of us are as we look to the past four days," wrote Mayor Holly Smith. "All our lives and our island have been forever changed. What we do tomorrow and the days and months ahead will redefine and strengthen our community."
The island is currently cut off from Florida's mainland, after Ian destroyed parts of the causeway connecting the two.
2 storm-related deaths confirmed in Florida
A 38-year-old man died in Lake County on Wednesday after the vehicle he was driving hydroplaned, Florida Emergency Management confirmed to CBS News.
Elsewhere, a 72-year-old man from Deltona died overnight Wednesday when he attempted to go outside to drain his pool, according to the Volusia County Sheriff's office. The man's wife called 911 after he disappeared. Officials found him unresponsive in a canal behind their home, and he was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Ian becomes a hurricane once again
On Thursday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center said that Ian had strengthened into a hurricane again, after it was downgraded to a tropical storm for several hours on Thursday.
Ian's center was about 240 miles south of Charleston, South Carolina, as of 5 p.m. Thursday. It was moving north-northeast at 10 mph, with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph.
Sustained winds of 74 mph are needed for a storm to reach hurricane status, which Ian reached several hours before its expected landfall in South Carolina on Friday.
The storm is "taking aim at the Carolinas and Georgia with life-threatening flooding, storm surge and strong winds," the hurricane center said.
South Carolina governor says "the concern is always human error" ahead of Ian's landfall
Tropical Storm Ian is expected to restrengthen into a hurricane and make landfall again in South Carolina on Friday. Officials from the state shared an update on the storm and its preparations on Thursday afternoon, with Gov. Henry McMaster saying, "the concern is always human error."
The governor encouraged everyone to prepare for the storm before the rain and wind arrives. He also asked that residents look at official sources and maps to have a better understanding of how their areas could be affected.
"We know what's coming," McMaster said, referring to Ian's destruction in Florida.
He said the state is expecting the worst of the storm between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Friday. In Charleston, high tide is around noon — which means water levels will likely peak then.
State officials' biggest concern is the storm surge, which could range between 3 and 7 feet along the entire length of South Carolina's coast. Areas near lakes and rivers could also see significant flooding, according to the National Weather Service meteorologist John Quagliariello.
Wind gusts are forecasted to reach up to 60 or 70 mph, likely ripping off shingles and damaging roofs. Extensive rainfall could result in flash flooding, Quagliariello added, warning people not to drive in such conditions.
Tropical storm warnings extend beyond the coastline, and well inland, according to Quagliariello. Conditions should improve by late Friday night or early Saturday.
If Ian strengthens into a hurricane, as is expected, it would be the first to make landfall in South Carolina since Matthew in 2016, Quagliariello said.
Tampa Airport to reopen Friday
Tampa International Airport will reopen to commercial flights Friday morning, officials said during a Thursday press conference. The first plane to arrive will be a Delta Airlines flight from Atlanta, and it will land at 10 a.m.
Cargo flights will resume at 7 p.m. Thursday night.
Officials said the airport suffered minimal damage, and that no planes were on the ground there when the hurricane hit — they had been flown out before the storm.
Florida hotel extends a helping hand to Hurricane Ian evacuees
Rosen Hotel and Resorts is opening their doors to help residents displaced by the storm. Jennifer Rice-Palmer, the director of guest services, talked with CBS News, in the video below, about what the company is doing to help.
North Carolina governor: "This storm can still be dangerous and even deadly"
North Carolina is preparing for Ian, which is predicted to strengthen into a hurricane again Thursday evening before making landfall in South Carolina.
"For North Carolinians I want to be clear: This storm can still be dangerous and even deadly," Gov. Roy Cooper said during a Thursday afternoon press conference.
He said they're expecting heavy rains, flooding and gusty winds. The state is also facing a chance of tornadoes, coastal flooding and landslides.
Power outages are likely in portions of the state, Cooper added, encouraging residents to prepare with food, flashlights and extra batteries.
While residents should have a place to go if they need it, the governor warned people against driving during the storm.
Meanwhile, North Carolina's government and various agencies are preparing for the storm as well, according to Cooper.
Disney World to begin reopening Friday
Walt Disney World said it would begin to reopen on Friday, using a phased approach, after Ian left devastation across Florida. The theme park — which includes Disney Springs — said it will announce its operating hours later in the day Thursday.
"We thank our first responders and community leaders for their courageous efforts in preparing for and managing the storm's impacts," the parks said in a statement on Facebook. "To our cast members in Florida and in South Carolina, thank you for selflessly taking care of our guests."
ahead of Ian's arrival. It remained closed on Thursday.
Orlando mayor says city is seeing historic flooding
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said that the city is seeing record flooding, with rainwater up to 14 inches. He said they have received reports of 49 downed trees blocking roadways and more than 250 damaged or impacted traffic lights.
Rescue operations are underway in the city, and residents can call 911 with an emergency. Debris pickup will begin Friday morning.
Dyer also asked that residents conserve water, as water treatment facilities are operating above capacity.
Lastly, Dyer warned people to stay home. If your home is flooded and you can safely leave, do that, he said.
Florida police warn against insurance and contractor scams
Authorities in St. Petersburg — a beach town just west of Tampa — are warning residents about unsolicited calls from possible scammers.
They said the scams could be related to insurance. Police encouraged residents to avoid giving out personal policy information and to contact their insurance company directly about their policy.
Scams could also be related to contractors. Police said to beware of people who claim to be affiliated with your insurance company — adding that you should not give them your policy numbers, coverage details or any other personal information. And you should double check that a person who claims to be a contractor is licensed and insured.
Kissimmee under mandatory curfew
Kissimmee joined a growing number of cities in Florida that have enacted mandatory curfews. It will last from 9 p.m.-6 a.m. and is in place "until further notice," the city's government said Thursday.
"Remain at home during that time unless you are required to commute for work or are an essential worker," the city said. "Extensive flooding in our area remains a serious situation for Kissimmee residents. Shelter in place as first responders continue rescue operations."
During a Thursday afternoon press conference, Mayor Olga Gonzalez said they must all — rescue teams, local law enforcement and residents — work together to keep everyone safe.
The city's manager said authorities have rescued several hundred people already.
A video posted on the city government's Facebook page shows the flooding in the city, which appears to be extensive.
Over 500 people rescued from 2 Florida counties battered by Ian
As of 2 p.m. on Thursday, more than 500 people had been rescued from Charlotte and Lee counties, Florida's Division of Emergency Management said.
The search and rescue efforts are ongoing, it added.
The two counties saw some of the worst flooding and devastation after Ian made landfall in Cayo Costa, which is in Lee County.
Warning and watches as of 2 p.m. ET
The National Hurricane Center said in its 2 p.m. advisory that the following warnings and watches are in effect:
A storm surge warning is in effect for:
-Flagler/Volusia Line to Little River Inlet
-St. Johns River
A hurricane warning is in effect for:
-Savannah River to Little River Inlet
A tropical storm warning is in effect for:
-Vero Beach, Florida, to Savannah River
-Little River Inlet to Duck, North Carolina
A storm surge watch is in effect for:
-North of South Santee River to Duck, North Carolina
A hurricane watch is in effect for:
-Flagler/Volusia County Line to the Savannah River
Ian "could be the deadliest hurricane in Florida's history"
President Biden said Thursday that Ian "could be the deadliest hurricane in Florida's history."
"The numbers are still unclear, but we're hearing early reports of what could be substantial loss of life," said a somber president, addressing Federal Emergency Management Agency employees, Florida and the nation after receiving a briefing from FEMA officials.
Sheriff Carmine Marceno, of Lee County, which was struck hard by Ian, said Thursday he believed the death toll would be "in the hundreds." However, Gov. Ron DeSantis later said that number had not been confirmed.
"My message to the people of Florida and to the country is, it's at times like this America comes together," the president added. "We're gonna pull together as one team, as one America."
The president said he plans to visit the state at some point. Presidents often wait until conditions have improved, so as not to distract from search and rescue efforts. Mr. Biden also noted the strong cooperation he's had with DeSantis, dismissing any political disagreements the two men have.
"This is not about anything having to do with our disagreements politically," the president told reporters Thursday. "This is about saving peoples' lives, homes and businesses."
Lee County wreckage seen in aerial footage: "We are devastated"
The Lee County Sheriff's Office posted a video Thursday showing immense and widespread damage from Hurricane Ian.
The video, taken from the sky, shows sweeping wreckage and piles of debris along the Florida coast. It also shows damage to the Sanibel Causeway.
"This morning Sheriff Carmine Marceno took a tour of Lee County to begin assessing damage caused by Hurricane Ian," the sheriff's office tweeted.
"We are devastated. Our hearts go out to every resident who is impacted."
Thousands evacuated from nursing homes and hospitals
Thousands of people were evacuated from nursing homes and hospitals across Florida on Thursday even as winds and water from Hurricane Ian began receding. Hundreds of those evacuations were taking place across the hard-hit Fort Myers region, where damage cut off potable water to at least nine hospitals.
Kristen Knapp of the Florida Health Care Association says 43 nursing homes evacuated about 3,400 residents as of Thursday morning, mostly in southwest Florida.
As many as 20 facilities had reported electricity outages, but Knapp says generators are powering those buildings. Water was shut off at some facilities, too. And one area hospital began assessing the full damage from ferocious winds that tore away parts of its roof and swamped its emergency room.
In Orlando, residents of the Avante nursing home were evacuated to ambulances and waiting buses through floodwater in a neighborhood that doesn't typically flood. Paramedics rolled out residents one by one on stretchers and wheelchairs. At the neighboring Palm Island at Baldwin apartment complex, cars were submerged in the parking lot.
Even as the problem was too much water in much of the state, at least nine hospitals in southwest Florida had the opposite problem.
"We have one large health system in southwest Florida that is without water in all of their facilities. And so they are fast approaching a point where they will not be able to safely take care of their patients. So that is an urgent focus to get those patients transferred," said Mary Mayhew, the president of the Florida Hospital Association.
Mayhew said more 1,200 patients were being evacuated.
Emergency management director urges people to stay off roads to give response teams "full access"
Heavy rain from Tropical Storm Ian continued to cause flooding across Florida on Thursday, leaving cars, roads and buildings partially submerged in water as extreme winds battered the state.
Kevin Guthrie, the director of Florida's Division of Emergency Management, asked residents to stay off roadways during a morning news conference with Gov. Ron DeSantis, echoing pleas from local officials who have urged people to do the same.
Noting that "damaging winds and extreme rainfall" are expected to persist throughout northeast and central Florida, Guthrie emphasized that "the storm still poses a major threat to the state," and especially to those regions.
"We want to make sure that all available resources can get to residents as quickly as possible," said Guthrie. He added that searching, securing and stabilizing hard-hit areas are top priorities for emergency response crews, which conducted rescue missions that, in some instances, involved pulling people from the roofs of their flooded homes on Thursday.
Guthrie requested that people living in central and southwest Florida avoid roadways so that emergency responders would be allowed "full access."
"We're coming in full force," he said. "We need you out of the way so we can get our job done."
Video shows storm surge flooding CBS affiliate in Fort Myers
Video posted by the chief meteorologist at WINK News shows storm surge inundating the CBS affiliate in Fort Myers, Florida.
"Lost power and was unable to continue broadcasting on tv/radio," Matt Devitt tweeted Thursday. "No timetable on return to air."
Southwest Florida counties under boil water notices due to flooding
Several counties in Southwest Florida have issued boil water notices due to damage sustained by Ian, which passed through the region on Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane.
Sarasota County issued a notice on Wednesday, saying the notice was for the "entire North Port utilities service area." Residents will need to boil water used for consumption for at least three days, the county tweeted, saying the water should be boiled for one minute.
Lee County, which had its power infrastructure essentially knocked "off the grid," according to Gov. Ron DeSantis, also had a system-wide notice put into effect on Wednesday.
Collier County issued its notice Thursday morning, saying it is just out of precaution because of flooding while the county conducts testing. The notice impacts areas west of U.S. 41 from Seagate Drive to Bonita Beach Road, as well as the Isles of Capri and Goodland. Residents in these areas should adhere to the notice until the county is able to conduct "acceptable bacteriological testing," the county said.
"500-year flood event": Photos shows destruction
More photos emerging Thursday were beginning to show the aftermath of Hurricane Ian and what the governor has called a "500-year flood event":
Hurricane warning issued for South Carolina coast
A hurricane warning was issued Thursday morning for South Carolina's entire coast — from the Savannah River to Little River Inlet.
The area is expected to get hit hard by Ian, which is now churning off of Florida's east coast as a tropical storm. It is expected to regain strength and hit South Carolina Friday as a hurricane.
"Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 70 mph (110 km/h) with higher gusts," the National Hurricane Center said in its 11 a.m. advisory. "Ian is expected to become a hurricane again this evening and make landfall as a hurricane on Friday, with rapid
weakening forecast after landfall."
The hurricane center also said:
- A storm surge warning was issued from South Santee River to Little River Inlet, South Carolina, and for the Neuse River.
- A tropical storm warning was extended northward to Duck, North Carolina, including Pamlico Sound.
- A storm surge watch was issued from Little River Inlet to Duck, including the Pamlico River.
- A tropical storm warning was discontinued for the Gulf coast of Florida and Lake Okeechobee.
"If you decided to evacuate, now is not the time to return"
Officials in Charlotte County are urging residents who evacuated ahead of the storm to remain where they are. In a Facebook post shared Thursday morning, the county government said roadways "are extremely dangerous" and pose "many unknown hazards" due to flooding, debris and extreme wind conditions.
Located north of Fort Myers along Florida's western coast, Charlotte was one of the counties hardest hit by Ian when it made landfall as a hurricane on Wednesday, inundating the area with water and causing widespread . Evacuation orders were put in place for some parts of the county on Monday.
"We hear your questions and concerns and are aware that Hurricane Ian was a powerful and devastating storm event," the Charlotte County government wrote in its Thursday morning post.
"Our entire Charlotte County family is ready to serve our community when we are able to get out and conduct a thorough safety assessment of our community," the post continued. "There is devastation. There are people in need. We need your help as well."
Emergency management crews, first responders, public works and utilities personnel had not yet been able to access damaged areas in Charlotte County when the social media message was posted, officials said, explaining that "the inundation of water, extreme wind conditions and debris in the roadways and waterways have made it difficult to do that safely."
"If you are trying to contact a loved one, please know that we are experiencing connectivity issues and many cellular service providers are down. Restoring communication is one of our top priorities," they added. "If you decided to evacuate, now is not the time to return regardless of where you live in Charlotte County. The roads are extremely dangerous with many unknown hazards."
Chunk of Sanibel Causeway wiped out by Hurricane Ian
A chunk of the Sanibel Causeway, which links Sanibel Island to the Florida mainland, fell into the sea — cutting off access to the barrier island where 6,300 people normally live.
How many heeded mandatory evacuation orders before the storm surge washed over the island wasn't known.
Lee County, which is seeing "catastrophic damage" from the storm, said its Department of Transportation and law enforcement was on the scene at the causeway and in the Matlacha area, where "extensive damage occurred."
Here's a look at the causeway in a photo from 2019:
Here's a photo taken on Thursday:
98% of Lee County is without power
Almost all of Lee County - 98% - is without power Thursday morning and outages are expected to last for an "extended" period, officials said.
"It crushed us," Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno told ABC's "Good Morning America" about the storm. He said roads and bridges remained impassable, stranding thousands in the county where Ian made landfall just north of Fort Myers. "We still cannot access many of the people that are in need."
Marceno said that while he lacked any details, he believed the death toll would be "in the hundreds." Gov. Ron DeSantis later said that toll was not confirmed and was likely an estimate based on 911 calls.
The county is currently engaged in search and rescue efforts, "assessing infrastructure and structural damage and intensifying other response and recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Ian, which caused catastrophic damage throughout Lee County," officials said in a release.
All 15 shelters that were set up in the county before the storm are still open and will remain open.
Utility crews standing by as millions wait for power to be restored
Utility companies had crews and trucks staged in St. Petersburg and The Villages ahead of Hurricane Ian, to be ready to respond to the widespread outages caused by the storm. Personnel and equipment from Texas, Alabama and other states were also dispatched to help.
Almost 2.6 million homes and businesses across a broad swath of Florida were without power Thursday morning, as tracked by poweroutage.us.
One storm-related death confirmed
At least one storm-related death has been confirmed in Florida's Volusia County. A man died overnight as Ian poured heavy rain over central Florida, according to local authorities.
The Deltona resident, 72, apparently drowned after going outside to drain his pool around 1 a.m. Thursday, the Volusia sheriff's office said in a news release.
The man, who has not been publicly identified, was found unresponsive in a canal behind his residence, police said. Deputies arrived at the scene in response to a call from his wife, who reported his disappearance after leaving their house near Lake Bethel.
Officers said they discovered the man's flashlight before finding him in the canal.
"Several deputies pulled the victim from the water and performed CPR until paramedics arrived, but the victim could not be revived," the sheriff's office said. "He was later pronounced deceased at the hospital."
Police said their early investigation indicates that the man tried to use a hose to allow the pool to drain downhill into a canal measuring 30 feet across. The "steep decline" was "soft and slippery due to the heavy rain," they added.
Officials investigating at least 2 deaths possibly linked to Ian
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says the state is investigating two deaths that could be linked to Hurricane Ian.
"We don't know that they're linked to the storm, but our assumption is it likely is," he said at a briefing Thursday morning, adding that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will make that assessment.
The fatalities were announced after Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno told "Good Morning America" Thursday that the county received thousands of 911 calls and people became trapped. He said there were fatalities.
At least one storm-related death has been confirmed in Volusia County. The sheriff said a 72-year-old man died after he went outside during the storm to drain his pool and he ended up unresponsive in a canal behind his home.
Southwest Florida, DeSantis said, was significantly damaged from the storm, particularly Charlotte and Lee counties, which are now "basically off the grid." Southwest Florida had more than 2 million power outages alone as of Thursday morning.
"The Charlotte and Lee reconnects are really likely going to likely have to be rebuilding of that infrastructure," he said, adding that linemen and crews are on their way but that it's going to "be more than just connecting a power line back to a pole."
Ian downgraded to a tropical storm overnight, but DeSantis said that doesn't mean the impacts are over. Central Florida, particularly Orange and Seminole counties, could see major flooding on Thursday.
"The amount of water that's been rising and will likely continue to rise today, even as the storm is passing, is basically a 500-year flood event," Desantis said.
"The impacts of this storm are historic and the damage that was done has been historic – and this is just off initial assessments," DeSantis said. "We've never seen a flood event like this. We've never seen storm surge of this magnitude."
He said it's going to take "years of effort" to recover.
Key West airport reopens, many others remain closed
Key West International Airport reopened early Thursday morning, but many other airports across the state remain closed in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, which is now moving across the state as a tropical storm.
Airports along the Gulf Coast, including Tampa and Sarasota airports, are expected to largely be out of commission Thursday, CBS News' Kris Van Cleave reports from southwest Florida. Some airports - Miami and Fort-Lauderdale - are open, but say they are experiencing flight delays and cancellations.
A lot of airlines are offering refunds and flexibility to rebook tickets, Van Cleave reports.
Disney World, located in central Florida, is also closed, as are many hotels in the Orlando area.
Biden, DeSantis speak about response to Tropical Storm Ian
President Biden and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke Thursday morning to discuss the administration's efforts to help Florida in its response to Tropical Storm Ian, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
In a pair of tweets, Jean-Pierre said they discussed the president's declaration that a "major disaster exists" in Florida. Mr. Biden also told DeSantis that he is sending FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell to Florida on Friday to monitor response efforts and see where more support is needed.
"The president and governor committed to continued close coordination," Jean-Pierre said.
Thursday's call between Mr. Biden and DeSantis is their second this week. The two also spoke Tuesday night as the storm barreled toward the state.
Warnings and watches in effect as of 8 a.m.
The National Hurricane Center said the following warnings and watches were in effect as of 8 a.m. ET:
A storm surge warning is in effect for:
- Flagler/Volusia Line to the mouth of the South Santee River
- St. Johns River
A tropical storm warning is in effect for:
- North of Bonita Beach to Indian Pass Florida
- Jupiter Inlet Florida to Cape Lookout North Carolina
- Lake Okeechobee
A storm surge watch is in effect for:
- North of South Santee River to Little River Inlet
A hurricane watch is in effect for:
- Flagler/Volusia County Line to the South Santee River
Pictures begin to show hurricane damage
Photos on Thursday were beginning to show the damage from Hurricane Ian:
Biden declares "major disaster" for Florida
President Biden approved a disaster declaration for Florida as the state reels from Tropical Storm Ian, unlocking federal funds to supplement recovery efforts in areas impacted by the storm, the White House said Thursday.
Mr. Biden's declaration specifically makes federal aid available to people in several counties along Florida's southwestern coast that felt the brunt of the storm as it came ashore: Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas, and Sarasota.
In addition to grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans for uninsured property losses and other programs for affected Florida residents and businesses, the assistance is available to help cover the cost of debris removal in the nine counties, according to the declaration.
Ian hits Port Charlotte hospital hard
Hurricane Ian swamped a Florida hospital from both above and below, the storm surge flooding its lower level emergency room while fierce winds tore part of its fourth floor roof from its intensive care unit, according to a doctor who works there.
Dr. Birgit Bodine spent the night at HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital in Port Charlotte, anticipating the storm would make things busy, "but we didn't anticipate that the roof would blow off on the fourth floor," she said.
Water gushed down Wednesday from above onto the ICU, forcing staff to evacuate the hospital's sickest patients - some of them on ventilators - to other floors. Staff members resorted to towels and plastic bins to try to mop up the sodden mess.
The medium-sized hospital spans four floors, but patients were forced into just two because of the damage.
CBS Fort Myers affiliate evacuated
The CBS affiliate in Fort Myers, Florida, WINK-TV, was being cleared out early Thursday, according to a tweet from a meteorologist at the station, Dylan Federico, who said, "212AM: Just woke up. We are being emergency evacuated from the WINK News building. I have no idea what's going on."
Fort Myers isn't far from where Hurricane Ian made landfall Wednesday.
But Wednesday night, he'd tweeted that, "The storm surge has peaked at WINK. Water has gone down about a foot, but the wind on the back side of this hurricane is unbelievably strong. We are safe in the 2nd floor."
He also said, "Fort Myers is pitch dark. Likely catastrophic failure of grid."
Hurricane hunter pilot discusses flights to track Ian
While most people try to flee from hurricanes, Captain Jason Mansour, who pilots a Gulfstream-IV Hurricane Hunter for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, flies into them. He spoke with CBS News' John Dickerson on "Prime Time" to discuss why.
"The Hurricane hunters go into harm's way to obtain the best possible information so the best possible forecast can be made," Mansour explained.
Biden to visit FEMA headquarters Thursday
As Hurricane Ian continues to batter Florida, the White House said President Biden would visit FEMA headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. While there, he will receive a "briefing on impacts from Hurricane Ian and ongoing Federal response efforts."
The president will then deliver remarks about the hurricane.