9:56 a.m.

TALLAHASSEE -

FROM NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday morning the time for Southwest Florida residents to evacuate had passed, as Hurricane Ian approached the Gulf Coast as a nearly Category 5 storm.

“This one has just strengthened and strengthened, and it is the real deal,” DeSantis said during a briefing at the state Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee. “So, it's going to do a lot of damage. So, people should be prepared for that.”

...

9:53 a.m.

Charlotte County Fire & EMS suspended emergency response to calls for service due to Hurricane Ian and hazardous weather conditions.

...

9:40 a.m.

AccuWeather experts called Hurricane Ian's impact on the region as "worse case" early Wednesday.

Chief Meteorologist Jonathan Porter said Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda, Cape Coral, Fort Myers and area communities could face "a potential 'worse case' hurricane situation given the intense hurricane nearing the west coast of Florida, its angle of approach and slowing down considerably, prolonging the life-threatening impacts from the hurricane including a devastating storm surge of 15-20’ in the worst hit areas, flooding rainfall, destructive winds and the risk for localized tornadoes," according to an email alert from the weather agency.

"Storm surge is a major concern in these communities due to the unique topography of the bays, inlets and nearby ocean floor. Persistent strong winds will essentially pile water up and continually direct the rapidly rising water into the bays, inlets and tidal rivers including Charlotte Harbor, the Peace River and the Caloosahatchee River with waves on top of this water level increase. he storm surge will threaten people and property. Due the slow movement of the storm, the storm surge can persist increasing the risk for significant damage and threatening to cut-off communities."

...

7:17 a.m. Wednesday:

TAMPA -

Several weather experts have cited new data showing some winds in Hurricane Ian up to 155 mph. It is tracking toward a Wednesday afternoon landfall between Fort Myers and Sarasota. If the winds stay in those speeds, it could become a Category 5 hurricane. 

...

8:54 p.m. Tuesday

SARASOTA -

As Hurricane Ian approaches landfall, Verizon stated it is "providing unlimited calling, texting and data to those customers who reside in areas that will likely be most impacted by the storm," it said.

It will be available from Sept. 28-Oct.4 for its consumer and small business customers, it said.

Verizon small business customers are customers with 50 lines or less, it noted.

It noted Charlotte, DeSoto and Sarasota County customers are among those involved. The billing addresses in those counties are joined by Hardee; Hillsborough, Lee; Manatee; Pinellas and Polk.

Customers can verify eligibility by entering the ZIP code at: https://www.verizon.com/featured/relief

“Hurricane Ian has already disrupted the lives of millions of Floridians,” Verizon Consumer Vice President Shawn Alexander said in a news release. “We hope this offer gives our customers one less thing to worry about so they can focus on staying safe.”

...

7:52 p.m.

BABCOCK RANCH -

Charlotte County opened Babcock School Field House as another shelter.

It is located in Babcock Ranch at 43301 Cypress Parkway, Punta Gorda, in the southeast part of the county.

Tropical storm winds will arrive between Tuesday night.

"Leave now if you are going to a shelter," the county said in a news release. "Evacuations have been ordered for anyone in Zone A-Red, Zone B-Orange, as well as residents in any zone living in mobile and manufactured homes. It is advised you stay with friends and family members who live outside of evacuation areas or flood zones, in a well-constructed home. If you have no place to go, shelters are refuges of last resort."

There are five shelter locations open in Charlotte County.

Kingsway Elementary School, 23300 Quasar Boulevard., Port Charlotte

Liberty Elementary School, 370 Atwater St., Port Charlotte

Neil Armstrong Elementary School, 22100 Breezeswept Ave., Port Charlotte

Harold Avenue Regional Park Recreation Center 23400 Harold Ave., Port Charlotte

Babcock School Field House, 43301 Cypress Parkway, Punta Gorda

...

5:39 p.m.

RUSKIN - 

The National Weather Service issued a hurricane warning for Babcock Ranch, Port Charlotte, Charlotte Harbor and Punta Gorda along with Charlotte and Sarasota counties. 

...

5:05 p.m.

ORLANDO - 

Disney has announced it is closed Wednesday and Thursday because of Hurricane Ian. 

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4:55 p.m.

SARASOTA -

Comcast opened its WiFi Hotspots in Southwest Florida as Hurricane Ian moves into the area. "This means that anyone will be able to use them, including non-customers, for free," it said in a Tuesday night email.

People can learn out to log-in at this site: IanHotSpot

...

3:01 p.m.

TALLAHASSEE -

Uber giving free round-trip rides to shelters up to $30 each way, to state-approved evacuation shelters, it announced. To do so, open the Uber app on your cellphone, tap account on the bottom right, tap wallet. Then, Uber said in a news release, scroll down to

+ Add Promo Code” and enter the code IANRELIEF - it is good for trips in Charlotte, Sarasota, Lee, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee and Pasco counties, it said.

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2:56 p.m.

PUNTA GORDA - 

In a world of "uh-oh," several Weather Channel and CNN journalists have checked into a Punta Gorda hotel on Tuesday afternoon. 

1:05 p.m.

PORT CHARLOTTE -

Charlotte County officials are closing the Tom Adams Bridge in Englewood and South Gulf Cove Boat to boat traffic starting at 3 p.m. Tuesday, until after tropical storm force winds subside. Staff will not be manning the Tom Adams Bridge or be able to respond to any issues at the South Gulf Cove lock during this time.

12:10 p.m.

Englewood - 

The Englewood Water District will shut down all water and wastewater service at 5 p.m. Tuesday to residents and businesses on all of Manasota Key. Water service will also be shutdown to our export customer Bocilla Utilities. 

11:59 a.m.

Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke about the potential impact of Hurricane Ian on Southwest Florida and urged residents to begin making final preparations now during a press conference at Sarasota's emergency operations center.

"It is a Cat 3 storm, which is a major hurricane," he said, adding that the current track has shifted east and places the storm making landfall in the Sarasota region, south of Tampa Bay.

DeSantis urged residents to heed warning and evacuation orders from local officials.

"Those orders, I think, are not taken lightly."

Residents should head south and to higher ground, he said.

Ian is similar to 2004's Hurricane Charley, but is a bigger storm, DeSantis said. The storm is projected to slow near the Gulf Coast, bringing "inordinate" rain "which is going to put a lot of saturation on the ground."

Florida Department of Transportation and Florida Highway Patrol are coordinating traffic during evacuations.

The state has suspended tolls during the emergency.

People should anticipate losing power, DeSantis said.

Florida Power & Light has 30,000 workers stationed to restore power after the storm.

The governor announced the state has partnered with Expedia to help people find shelter. Go to expedia.com/florida for more information.

10:35 a.m.

SARASOTA - 

State officials said in an early news conference Tuesday that the expected landfall is Venice. 

Gov. Ron DeSantis is slated to be a part of a news conference at 11:30 a.m.

10:31 a.m.

PUNTA GORDA - 

Evacuation orders have been sent out by Charlotte County Emergency Management for residents of Zone A - Red and Zone B - Orange. It includes barrier island residents at Don Pedro Island, Knight Island/Palm Island, Little Gasparilla Island, Gasparilla Island and Manasota Key, it said 

It also includes mobile home, trailer and RV residents, it said. 

9:38 a.m.

Residents in low-lying areas are being urged to evacuate their homes - along with people in mobile homes and RVs. 

7:49 a.m.

SARASOTA -

Sarasota County Schools is opening many of its schools to be used as emergency shelters, including: 

• Atwater Elementary School 4701 Huntsville Ave., North Port

• Woodland Middle School 2700 Panacea Blvd., North Port

• Taylor Ranch Elementary 2500 Taylor Ranch Trail, Venice

• Heron Creek Middle School 6501 W. Price Blvd., North Port

• North Port High School 6400 West Price Blvd., North Port

Charlotte County also has shelters that are set to open Tuesday for evacuations. 

• Liberty Elementary School, 370 Atwater St. Port Charlotte

• Neil Armstrong Elementary School, 22100 Breezeswept Ave. Port Charlotte

• Kingsway Elementary School, 23300 Quasar Blvd. Port Charlotte

• Harold Avenue Regional Park Recreation Center, 23400 Harold Ave. Port Charlotte

A special needs shelter is opened for people who have been listed through Charlotte County. It is at:

• New Day Christian Church on 20212 Peachland Boulevard. 

5:33 P.M.

CHARLOTTE COUNTY -

Charlotte County school officials say school will now be closed Wednesday and Thursday in addition to Tuesday as previously announced. A decision about Friday will come later this week, a district spokesperson said.

5:13 p.m.

RUSKIN - 

The National Weather Service has issued a Hurricane Watch and a Tropical Storm Warning for Sarasota, Charlotte and DeSoto counties on Monday night. A Tropical Storm Warming means tropical storm-force winds are expected somewhere in the next 36 hours, it stated.  

5:11 p.m.

PUNTA GORDA - 

A flood watch has been issued in Charlotte County and is in effect until 2 a.m. Sept. 30, the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office announced. 

5:09 p.m.

PORT CHARLOTTE - 

Charlotte County Public Schools will be closed Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, officials announced late Monday afternoon. 

5:06 p.m.

SARASOTA - 

Sarasota County Schools announced Monday evening that schools would be closed Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday - with their reopening dependent on the closing of emergency shelters. 

4:40 p.m.- 

PUNTA GORDA - 

Charlotte County Jail is closing on-site visitation from 2 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, it announced Monday evening.

There will be an evaluation Friday on resuming it.

It does not make changes to at-home visitation, the Sheriff's Office said in an online notice.

4:14 p.m. - 

VENICE -

Venice Theatre will close at 5 p.m. Tuesday and stay closed Wednesday, it announced.

The theater could reopen Thursday, dependent on conditions, it said in a news release.

"The closing of the theatre's three-building campus means that scheduled rehearsals, classes, and performances of The Revolutionists are canceled. Patrons with tickets for Tuesday and Wednesday evening will be contacted by the box office to reschedule."

3:15 p.m. -

PUNTA GORDA —

Charlotte County announced mandatory evacuation of Red Flood Zones.

"Residents should take Ian seriously," said Emergency Management Director Patrick Fuller.

Any residents heading to a local hurricane shelter should expect to remain there for at least 48 hours — likely longer, depending on the strength of the storm.

3:07 p.m. -

PUNTA GORDA —

The city announced the Herald Court Centre parking garage is closed. All non-governmental vehicles must be removed by 6 p.m. Monday.

2:39 p.m. -

VENICE 

Loveland Center will be closing all Loveland programs on Tuesday and Wednesday, it announced.

"The safety of our staff, participants and their families are our utmost priority," it stated.

1:12 p.m. - 

VENICE — 

Evacuations set for Sarasota County on Tuesday. The city of Venice reported Monday afternoon that residents in certain areas could anticipate an evacuation order.

"While there are no evacuations issued at this time, Sarasota County is expecting to announce an evacuation alert for Level A in effect for Tuesday morning," it said in a news release.

Already, officials in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Manatee counties have stated that they would have evacuations set.

12:13 p.m. - 

PORT CHARLOTTE — 

Charlotte County libraries, pools, recreation centers and programs will be closing at 4 p.m. Monday and will be closed Tuesday, officials said.

12:08 p.m. -

PORT CHARLOTTE  Charlotte County Public Schools officials have decided to cancel school and all related activities Tuesday in advance of Hurricane Ian.

"This decision was not made lightly but I feel that it is the best decision to ensure the safety of your children, your families and our staff as all of us prepare for Hurricane Ian," the district wrote in a statement. "Please take care of yourselves and your families and stay safe."

Officials said a decision about school closings on Wednesday "will be forthcoming."

12:03 p.m. -

PUNTA GORDA — 

The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office reminded residents and business owners that it is a second degree misdemeanor.

"Under Florida law, it is illegal to charge unconscionable prices for goods or services following a declared state of emergency," it said in a blog Monday. "( Florida Statute 501.160 ) This statute covers any essential commodities and services, meaning any good or service that is required for use as a direct result of the emergency."

Read more at https://ccsoblog.org/2022/09/26/price-gouging-during-state-of-emergency-second-degree-misdemeanor-2/

11:26 -

PORT CHARLOTTE — 

Charlotte County is preparing parks in advance of Hurricane Ian, it announced.

"Staff are flipping over picnic tables and securing trash cans, locking all park restrooms and removing flags," it stated.

...

11:15 a.m. -

SARASOTA — 

Sarasota County Schools said they will be closed Tuesday as Hurricane Ian approaches Southwest Florida. 

10:50 a.m.-

PUNTA GORDA —

The Punta Gorda Council declared a state of emergency Monday in preparation for Hurricane Ian.

Punta Gorda interim Fire Chief Holden Gibbs said the storm needs to be taken seriously.

"There is potential for (high force) wind that we're looking at," he told the City Council. "If it's a Category 3 right off of our coast, then we can expect to have Category 1 force winds inland (74-95 mph)," he said. "We do need to take this seriously and prepare accordingly."

Two primary hurricane track models are still conflicting. The American model has the hurricane making landfall closer to the Florida Panhandle, while a European model has it landing just north of Tampa Bay.

Storm surges are another big concern for local officials.

"A storm surge, right now, we’re talking 4 to 7 feet (above high tide)," Gibbs said. "These are preliminary numbers. These numbers can change. They could go up."

Gibbs said the city could begin to see tropical storm force winds by 2 p.m. Tuesday.

Rainfall has the potential of reaching anywhere from 7 to 10 inches if the storm tracks farther north to around 20 inches if it tracks closer.

10:30 a.m. -

PUNTA GORDA - 

A 3 p.m. news conference is set for Charlotte County officials to talk about Hurricane Ian.

"Charlotte County Commission Chairman Bill Truex, Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell and Charlotte County Emergency Management Director Patrick Fuller will be available to discuss county preparations and answer questions."

The news conference will be streamed at www.Facebook.com/CharlotteCountyFlorida.

10:01 a.m. - 

TALLAHASSEE — 

The American Automobile Association noted local gas stations could “temporarily” run out of fuel due to increased demand from people preparing for the hurricane.

In a news release on Monday, the AAA’s Auto Mobile Group urged local residents to not panic about gasoline and take only what they need.

"The state makes it a priority to keep gasoline shipments going as long as it's safe to do so. Once the storm passes, shipments will resume as soon as possible," AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said in the news release.

...

9:57 a.m. -

PUNTA GORDA — 

A news conference is set up in Punta Gorda for Charlotte County Emergency Management. The news conference is set for 3 p.m. The Daily Sun will be there.  

...

9:34 a.m. -

FROM AccuWeather: "As of 8 a.m. EDT Monday, Ian had sustained winds of up to 75 mph and was moving northwest at 14 mph. Ian was located about 90 miles west-southwest of Grand Cayman Island and 275 miles southeast of the western tip of Cuba, the National Hurricane Center said. Hurricane-force winds extended up to 15 miles from the storm's center, while tropical-storm-force winds extended outward up to 90 miles."

...

9:11 a.m. -

NORTH PORT —

North Port commissioners approved a local state of emergency Monday morning as Hurricane Ian approaches Florida's west coast.

The measure gives City Manager Jerome Fletcher the ability to make purchases and emergency decisions in the days as the storm nears.

...

ARCADIA 

9:06 a.m.: Emergency staff are warning local residents to be wary of storm surge in the wake of Hurricane Ian.

DeSoto County Public Information Officer Sara Walker said there will be warnings for flash flooding near Peace River and Horse Creek.

“We are encouraging people to find a place in a higher, drier area – a facility, a friend,” Walker said Monday morning.

DeSoto County is distributing sandbags at the Road and Bridge Department at 1894 NE McKay Street. The distribution will go until to 4 p.m., while supplies last; no shovel is required, but residents will be required to self-fill their sandbags.

...

TALLAHASSEE  

7:51 a.m. - Gov. Ron DeSantis is set to hold a news conference concerning Hurricane Ian about 11 a.m. in Tallahassee. 

...

VENICE 

6:45 a.m. - "Humphries Park at the South Jetty, 2000 Tarpon Center Dr., will be closed this morning (Monday 9/26) for storm preparation by Venice Public Works as Hurricane Ian approaches," the city stated. "This includes moving all benches and trash receptacles. The park will reopen when this work is completed."

SUNDAY:

SARASOTA —

11 p.m. - The late night forecast from the National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center shifted the path of Tropical Storm Ian closer to Southwest Florida, prompting tropical storm and storm surge watches for Englewood south along the coast.

ENGLEWOOD — 

11 p.m. - Storm surge in the region could be high, authorities warn.  The storm surge watch means there is a possibility of life-threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline, in the indicated locations during the next 48 hours. The National Weather Service states the surge could reach 4-7 feet in the Englewood area at high tide.

EARLIER:

PUNTA GORDA  The Charlotte County Commission has an emergency meeting for 5 p.m. on Monday to consider declaring a local state of emergency, according to a Charlotte County news release.

ARCADIA — The DeSoto County Board of Commissioners has a meeting planned for 3 p.m. Tuesday.

NORTH PORT — North Port City Commission holds an emergency meeting Monday, along with Punta Gorda City Council, to consider declaring states of emergency.

Originally published on yoursun.com, part of the TownNews Content Exchange.

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