tv New Day With John Berman and Brianna Keilar CNN September 29, 2022 4:00am-5:00am PDT
as for where ian has already been. it landed as a category 4 hurricane. one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to make landfall in florida. devastating communities, fort myers, naples, port charlotte, huge storm surge, 7 to maybe 10 feet. we've talked to people who had water well into the first story of their building. one fire official in naples told us he was unnerved as the water was coming up in his building. here in tampa, to be clear, tampa avoided the worst of this storm. the hurricane skirted around here. still powerful winds and drenching rain. you can see the damage that was done here. this is some kind of roofing, i think, that was torn off one of these buildings. this is a huge, huge heavy piece of thick vinyl and tar that was just torn and thrown down here to the street. and this is tampa. which didn't even see the worst of 2, brianna.
>> yeah, that's right, look, as you mentioned it's weakened now to a tropical storm, but weakened or not, ian is still one for the record books cutting this brutal path across florida's west coast. as much as 20 inches of rain fell in some areas. this morning, there's 14 million people under flood alerts. more than 2 million homes and businesses are without power across florida. and that intense flooding that berman mentioned there in places like fort myers and naples, here you're seeing pictures of those areas, it's leaving people who decided to ride out the storm just trapped in their homes. berman. >> yeah, the sun will come up soon. cnn has live team coverage up and down the coast. up into orlando, where the storm has yet to hit. our first report is from our randi kaye in punta gorda, florida, rand di, i am so happy to see you well this morning. >> thank you, john. good to see you as well. we got up early, we're trying to make our way to fort myers, which we know was so hard hit.
but the roads are very, very difficult. as you can imagine, the power, there's power lines down everywhere. the street lights are out. and so the stop lights are out. so it's very difficult to get around. but we pulled over, just to show you some of what we're finding along the way. obviously, they're expecting a huge storm surge. we are finding a lot of water. we found front yards that looked more like lakes but this wasn't supposed to be a windstorm. i want to show you this was supposed to be more of a storm surge and rain event. look at this, this is a shed what appears to be a shed or was a shed. you can see, it's basically tossed on its side. inside it's all twisted metal in there. it looks like it is upside down. and this is just some of the damage that we're seeing along the way. we pulled off on a side road, so if we just take a little walk down here, you can see, be careful there, there's power lines behind you. so, here, this is what we're finding all over, john, power lines just in the middle of the roads, all of this damage. you can see, things were just
tossed about, pieces of twisted metal. a lot of water all along, this is a mobile home park that we found along the way but this is just an example of what we're seeing and that's why there's so much concern about people who might be trapped. where there might be water. deep water. search and rescue teams, of course, it's going to take them some sometime. they're getting a lot of calls from 911 from people who were trapped in their home who couldn't evacuate or didn't evacuate. if you just take a look around here, it's a mess. there's pieces there that have come off, we've seen pieces of buildings and homes in the roadway as well. obviously, we're going to keep going to fort myers and get in as much as we can. we know that 96% of that area is without power. we'll see how far we can get. we'll bring you pictures along the way, john. >> yeah, i know it's going to be slow going, hard going, and i know you'll be careful, rand di. any people besides you out and
about this morning? >> reporter: well, we saw actually one -- we didn't see any people until recently. there was a car trying make its way this way. i don't know if you can see down the road, there's a tree in the middle of the road that had fallen so the car turned around. but other than that, we were driving through some of the neighborhoods on the way, just to see what we saw. we saw trees. trees down on the roadways, stop signs, street signs were on their side, but we haven't seen any sign of anyone. but i will say, here in punta gorda, they didn't get that storm surge that was predicted, the 12 to 18 feet. we do see a lot of water on the ground. but it looks like there was a lot of wind that came through. because we've seen some pretty big trees that were uprooted and on their side. >> well, i know there was a lot of wind that went through because i saw you braving the wind as it was just pounding punta gorda there. randi kaye, i'm glad you're doing well. i hope you got a little bit of sleep.
another long day for you and your team ahead. please be safe. >> reporter: thank you, john. >> all right, let's go to brian todd who is live in st. petersburg, across, on the other side of tampa bay from where i am. brian, what are you seeing this morning? >> reporter: well, john, here in st. petersburg, like where rand diwas, downed industries, power lines throughout the city, debris all over the place, damage assessments, too, as we kind of walk around this corner and show you what we can of the damage here in st. petersburg. just a lot of debris on the ground that he have to clear out obviously, daylight has not arrived yet. that will be coming shortly. when it gets here, that's going to give rescue officials to a chance to reassess and try to figure out how to get to these places. we talk about damage assessment, and randi mentioned rescues still need to be carried out. they've got to figure out how to get to these people, officials
in collier county where naples is say they've conducted third rescues so far. there could be many more coming today, after daylight arrives, they'll get a read on where they can get to and where they can't. what we can also chel you officials are warning about rushing back to your houses too quickly to try to assess damage. that's, of course, a natural instinct. everybody wants to get back to their houses, it's understandable. but they're saying it's pretty dangerous. last night, we came to a house that was completely burned out in lago, florida, west of here. the house was completely -- the interior was burned out. we talked to the owner, his family had been there for 50 years, he was trying to renovate the place. it was completely devastated by a fire. the fire started when a power line ripped off of a transformer there. it was a very dramatic fire, video was shot by a neighbor who gave it to us there. this owner said he's fully
insured, he's going to try to recover what he can from the house. officials say when you go into places like the house we were at, and see some of the stuff, again, it's narm, you want to recover your items and just try to assess what needs to be done but you've still got power lines down. you've still got protruding objects, broken glass all over the place. it is dangerous to try to get back to some of these houses and officials while they duct these rescues are telling people, hey, we're got to still conduct rescues we don't want to have to come and rescue you when you go back to your house and get injured or something. that's the balance this morning and it's going to be tough for the next couple of days to do that, john. >> it is tough. look. we're going to hear more and more stories of material loss in the hours and days ahead. but let's hope that the stories of human loss are sat a minimum, brian todd in st. petersburg, thank you to you and your team. again, just getting a sense of the damage as the sun begins to come up. brianna. >> you know, we're in tropical
storm ian now crossing florida, dumping those inches of rain across the central and northern part of the state. so, let's get right to cnn's ryan mcyoung who is in orlando. ryan, what have you seen since we last checked in with you. >> reporter: yeah, you think about this, the rain has intensified since we last saw you, you think about the 20 inches headed for the area. the rain hasn't stopped all night long. we see transformers popping in the distance every half hour, with the power surging on and off. but the flooding is the bulk of the story. we've seen throughout the area, we know there's been seven rescues at least by first responders who are going out trying to get people out of their cars. in fact, we have video we want to show you near the hospital where you can see the water around this intersection, that it's just very high. it's almost impassible, that doff tails into what we want to show you here. this is tony adams. he's a reporter at a local
station here. i actually know this reporter. as you look at this video, they were doing a live report when a woman was driving her car. they tried to wave at her. she kept driving into the water. her car ended up getting stuck. tony waded through the water and put this woman on her back and started walking her back to safety. it took very few moments for that water to sweep this car away. a good young reporter, he was telling me basically they could do nothing to stop her. she was a nurse, she was focused on trying to get to the hospital, they were able to get her out of that car to safety, at this point, you can see some of the treacherous conditions without lights sometimes. people think the water is a lot lower than it is. let's not forget, this is orlando, so many people have traveled for vacation in the hotel, we bumped into couple after couple who traveled around the world here. we talked to a couple from the uk telling us they were here for
a three-week holiday and all of a sudden, they're stuck in the crosshairs of this storm. as a floridian, there are certain storms that stick in your mind, you think of hurricane andrew and irma, but this storm will be stamped in the minds of people who live in the state because this water is coming so consistently. and the flooding is happening in places that no one expected. as first light comes up, we hope to get closer to the hospital. we're about two miles away from that location. just to see the local flooding in that area. obviously, you want to be safe as you start going in different directions around the state. we also talked to two gentlemen who got their families out of tampa to avoid the situation there, only to now put themselves in orlando. and be in a direct path of the storm. take a listen to them. >> i live in zone "a." so storm surge is an issue. i have a 7-year-old and 5-year-old, girls, so, we definitely had to get out of dodge. and orlando seemed like it was a
good fit. and then, of course, lfall of a sudden -- you know -- >> it seemed like orlando was not going to get hit as hard as tampa was. and i'm new to tampa, this is my first storm, and safety first. you can't put a price on your safety. >> reporter: something i want to stress, everyone peace been super responsive, especially with the emergency folks. we've seen them traveling through the streets making sure people stay safe. as the storm comes in this direction, it's good to see things moving at the right pace, especially when people need help. high water vehicles are available, too. brianna. >> ryan, thank you. amazing video. berman, let's go back to tampa. >> yeah, look. as you can tell, by ryan, ian is not done yet, so let's get as many information as we can where it is go. chad myers at the weather center. chad, what's the forecast?
>> still making a lot of rain and still making wind gusts to 65 across the area. and all of those wind gusts coming off the ocean, due to the spin, they might even be higher. these are the gusts that don't have any friction. no trees to slow them down because they are right off the water. here though, in the storm, into the atlantic may be gain something strength but likely making landfall somewhere again, up in the low country of south carolina, maybe northern georgia or north carolina area with more heavy rainfall. we've already had a lot of rainfall. 10 to 15 inches here. i know there are spots on radar that show more than 20. and there are still big areas of rainfall around the orlando area. with this onshore flow. there's daytona, right off the water. 69 miles per hour. aren't you glad they moved artemis back into the building, now that you think about it? they were thinking, oh, not something to worry about, but they did, and obviously a good story there.
here's rainfall to come, orlando, heavy rainfall in savannah. it's really the wind that's going to push water into charleston. charleston floods in just regular season. you put a four-foot surge in charleston that will really bring the waters up. there's the wind right now, moving ahead in the ocean, picking up some speed because the storm is hitting warmer water. this isn't done. this is continuing to move through here with surges maybe three, four feet in coastal communities. a couple other things going on, too, berman. we talked about how the naples surge map here, it broke, we don't know how high the water actually got, well above intole major flood stage, the gauge broke. two other things i want to mention, i know you heard about the helicopters or heard them overhead, two sikorskies came
over and we're keeping an eye on them and i'm sure a lot more cavalry is on the way. >> okay. chad myers, thank you. the storm not done yet. a lot of people still in its path. in the meantime, here in florida, dealing with the people who have been left behind. i'm joined by the founder of the cajun navy, which, of course, everyone knows helped out in water rescues, the volunteer force. bob, what have you been doing? >> our team has been in the last four or five hours pulling people from homes. we get ticket requests we actually know where we're going. we use social media. people facebook us directly, you can help my mom, my sister? here's the address. we go exactly to the place and do rescues. >> where is this happens? >> venice, towards fort myers. we haven't made it down that far yet. the guys started up in tampa about 2:00 a.m. when they left, it was safe. and they've been running all the
way down, going along different roads and finding people asking to be rescued. >> how many rescues have you undertaken at this point? >> the last count was between 20 and 30. they don't know how many, between 20 and 30 so far. >> and how many calls are still out there? >> there's probably hundreds, we don't know exactly. we were un91 datenun91 dinundat people waiting to be rescued. and it's not necessarily them, people are calling us saying, hey, i have a family member that needs to be rescued. >> when you say stranded, stranded how? is there a commonality? >> when you have six feet of water and water around you, you can't see land, you can't see the roads. strand said literally, you're stuck on your roof or home without the ability to leave. you're not going to put your family at risk by going into water. usually, the people we get are
disabled, have children, or they need help in some way getting out of their home. usually, it's on a clear day. they're just not going to wander into the dangers of the water of a hurricane. and it's cold as well. they're trying to stay warm while they're out there, stranded on a roof or wherever they are. >> land rescues, you say they're driving down here, land rescues getting people out? or going into the water? >> we have both, where there's flooding and helping people get out of the water. >> are there their places as far as you can tell, water surrounding homes? >> there is, there's inland flooding happening right now, off the coast of that region on the western side of florida, where they're out doing rescues right now. >> you have your work cut out for you, i know there's a need for some days to come. thank you for being with us. all right. brianna, 20 to 30 rescues so far. still ongoing in houses
surrounded by water dealing with inland flooding. >> yeah. always amazing to hear about the work they're doing there. ahead, we're going to be joined by a member of the hurricane force hunting crew what he says makes this so much different than others plus the fema directctor will join us with th latest, and we'll speak to the mayor of era sota. offificials say there are more than 500 calls that rescue crews have responded to this morning. this is cnn's special live coverage.
but everybody's online during the day so we lose speeds. we've become... ...nocturnal. well... i'm up. c'mon kids. this. sucks. well if you just switch maybe you don't have to be vampires. whoa... okay, yikes. oh sorry, i wasn't thinking. we don't really use the v word. that's kind of insensitive. we prefer day-adjacent. i'll go man-pire.
miles per hour. let's bring in major kendall dunn. he's piloted missions into the storm for the past week and he's going to tell us what that's been like. how has this storm been compared to others that you've gone through, major? >> hey, good morning. so, this storm in general, it's grown, i started flying it when it was just a baby storm, 20-mile-per-hour winds, nothing big, you know, for eight hours or so. then we get into it yesterday, the first couple passes basically coming through the eye wall, not a big deal, nothing significant, you know, all of a sudden on that fourth pass, we get that video of it intensifying, the video you just showed there of our system, it was unbelievable. it rocked our whole world. something i've never seen. when we got back yesterday, other pilots talking to us, crews, nobody gave us a hard time saying you were scared,
everybody noticed we did get rocked pretty good. >> unlike anything you've seen. we were talking to a storm chaser who was there in the eye of the storm, as storm chasers go do, and he was saying something that struck him was how much lightning there was. he said he's not used to there being so much lightning. what did you see? >> oh, yes, ma'am, absolutely. so, when we started the mission yesterday morning, you know, it's nighttime. so you're coming through the eye and eye wall, and there's lightning popping everywhere. we have hail. i've never been like paparazzi, seeing it on tv, it's just light everywhere. you're just trying to keep the aircraft straight level. trying not to exceed anything. you just pop up and see, you got wind. straight in the middle. just the innereye wall, it's just blowing up. the most beautiful thing you can see. the problem is you have to go through the other side. it's kind of nice when the sun
coming up, you don't see the light no more, you just feel the aircraft. >> yeah. everything is calm, you have to go back into it. major dunn, it's amazing work that you all do. and we thank you for all of the information, the important information, that you gather to keep us safe. thank you so much. >> i appreciate you. thank you. >> next, we will take you back out to john berman live in tampa. we're also going to speak to the fema administrator and the mayor of sarasota when our specialal live coverage continues. >> are you okay? >> i'm fine. >> you're okay. >> physically i'm fine, i'm a wreck, my boat that i've been n working on three years is now completely demolished so -- um...hello? it's me, your heart! ally? yes! recordg an ekg in 30 seconds. tada! wow that was fast! good news, pal. i'm not detecting anof the six most common arrhythmias. what next? let's get some fresh air.
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winds still at 65 miles per hour. still, drenching, drenching rain. 20 inches of rain already falling in some parts of this state, more rain still to come. so much of this story is south of where i am. south of tampa on the southwestern coast. where ian hit as a category 4 hurricane, 140, 150-mile-per-hour winds but it was the storm surge. the devastating storm surge, 10 to 12 feet in some areas that just inundated coastal communities including naples, fort myers. there's so much concern in fort myers. it's hard to get a look of what's happening there. port charlotte, other places, and 2.5 million people without power. i spoke to a power official who said in some cases it may be weeks and that may be optimistic if the entire power grid is wiped out there and there is a
distinct possibility. joining me is ddeanne quislo. what the is need this morning? >> good morning, john, i spoke with the state, working on the ground, the area hit the hardest certainly what we're hearing is lee county. we know there was significant storm surge there. we know that their water system has been impacted. and we're focused right now in getting some search and rescue teams who have been out since 4:00 this morning and get into the area and identify who might need assistance, who might need to get rescued. that's just one area. we know where you're at, along that western coast, we've had significant impacts. again, we've put together a very comprehensive capability that
been out to understand where the needs are and start rescuing. our focus is on saving live. >> what reports do you have on fatalities? >> i don't have any confirmed reports yet. i understand that some of the sheriffs are saying that they expect a large number of fatalities. but that's why we want to get our search and rescue teams out there. that's why they're out there. we want to save as many lives as possible. my heart is just breaking for the people in these communities right now, because they have experienced absolutely catastrophic impacts from this. and there's parts of this community, these communities that have just been devastated. >> any reports or estimates of how many people need to be rescued this morning? >> i know that we've -- the local service is receiving 911 calls throughout the evening asking for rescues. they worked through the night to prioritize where they're going to send the search and rescue teams this morning. i don't have a number for you right now.
they're going to use a grid system to make sure they get around all of the different areas. that they cover every inch of the areas impacted to make sure they account for everybody. >> i did hear a helicopter here in tampa earlier this morning. what resources are being put into play? are there air rescues already from the water, from the ground? >> we put together a team of federal resources to complement the state that can do air, land and sea rescue. we have coast guard capabilities. we have our urban search and rescue teams. we have resources from the department of defense, as well as the department of the interior. all coordinating to make sure that we're covering, again, air, land and sea rescues as needed. one of the things that we also did before the storm is we flew imagery to capture conditions before the storm hit. as soon as it's safe for our aircraft, we're going to go back and capture imagery before the storms to identify areas and
greatest impacts. >> any way to quantify the amount of damage that's been done? >> i don't think that we can quantify it yet. but i can tell you that it is going to be catastrophic. the amount of impact to these communities is going to be significant. and we have already started our recovery planning efforts to make sure that we're bringing in the right resources to help these communities get back on their feet. >> are you prepared for potentially thousands of displaced -- long term, displaced people? >> we are. john, we're preparing, when we look at these large population centers that have had significant impacts to their homes, we know that a number of these families are living in mobile homes which have a very hard time withstanding storms as strong as ian. so, we are preparing for the potential of thousands of families that are going to need assistance as they assess their
own damage and get on their road to recover. >> and i know you've been preparing and staging. are there federal officials now on the ground in lee county, in some of the hardest hit areas? >> i don't know if i have anybody specifically on the ground in lee county yet, but i know that we have our search and rescue crews that are focused until that area trying to save lives. we've got a team that's been embedded with the state in tallahassee. we've got teams that are staged across the state that can come in and respond as quickly as possible. i will have teams on the ground today in these most impacted counties so they can start to provide information back up to our leadership time. >> all right, fema administrator deyaen criswell, i do appreciate the information you've given us. i know it's a tough job and just beginning. we'll check back with you as soon as we can. >> all right. thanks a lot, john. >> brianna, the light is now coming up in southwestern florida which is a blessing and
a krcurse. a blessing because people can go out and assess the damage for the first time, and a curse because of what you're hearing from deanne criswell, with loss of life and may be upsetting numbers to hear for lots of people. and also reports from the fema administrator, that they are prepared for the possibility of thousands of displaced people. long-term displaced people. i think this is only just the beginning, brianna. >> yeah. the recovery is going to take months and months in some of these areas, we certainly expect. this morning, more than 2 million florida residents are waking up without power that's a number that included sarasota residents including the city's mayor. mayor erik arroyo joins us now. mayor, can you give us a number, with the sense of fatalities,
have you heard about your area? >> no, and the number one priority remains the safety of our residents in sarasota. we have 200 or so incidents of downed trees and power lines and a phone number will be provided to our residents on social media to report that. the barriers are still closed off. water is back on the barrier islands. we shut them down before the hurricane hit. and the next phase is to make sure the water infrastructure is adequate. we will hold bridges closed and when safe to reopen, we'll open them back up. there are no reports of loss of life or injury at this time. 100 workers from parks and recreation will be clearing the paths and roads of any debris, that's happening as we speak. like it has been said, there's 250,000 individuals displaced from southwest florida. and it's going to be a community effort to try to get them the help that they need. at this point, for us, at least, the worst is over, and it's all
about coming together as a community and helping us rebuild. >> the danger, obviously, still very much there, when you're talking about downed power line. i think that's something that people really need to remember. how are you communicating that to folks, when a lot of them don't have power and maybe it's tricky to communicate with them? >> yeah. we're telling people, most casualties and deaths occur when people try to do something themselves after a hurricane. so, if you see a power line that could very well be a live wire. it can be be very, very dangerous. report it to the officials. stay away from it. don't try to self-help. this is definitely not the time to try to rush the process. be safe. and get the properly authorities to investigate. >> and so, you lost power in your home. you're looking to a recover here. any idea when things can come back online? >> you know, last i heard, there were 80% of the county was
losing power. but as of right now, it seems to be in patches. some have their power back on. some don't. so, it looks -- it looks like -- they had a lot of individuals on standby to help fix this grid. florida power and light has been steadily at work. i'm assuming they're working around the clock on this, now that it's safe to kind of go outside. but this will be a perfect opportunity for them to underground power lines which desperately needs to be done in florida. >> i hear you on that. mayor arroyo, thank you so much. please keep p us posted as you t more informationon throughout t day. >> thank you. next, we're headading out t john bermaman in tampa, he's gog to speak to the sheriff of hillsborough county as crews are going out. (vo)get a new iphone 14 pro, on.
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what are you seeing? >> just we'll see this afternoon, how much more it's going to rise. maybe that's just what we're looking for. irma is the highest peak that i've seen in my lifetime. i think we're going to see it again. >> that's a resident in geneva, florida, not far from orlando. they're getting hit by ian right now which is a tropical storm, 65-mile-per-hour winds with drenching rain in some parts of the state have seen up to 20 inches of rain. that's where ian is now. where it's been and done some of the worst damage was on the southwestern coast. wind speeds 140, 150 miles per hour when it made landfall. storm surge of 10 to 12 feet in some places. only now as the sun comes up, are we beginning to get an assessment of the damage that was done. i'm joined by patrick fuller who
is the emergency management director in charlotte county, which includes punta gorda where our reporters where yesterday. patrick, you can can hear me, what are you seeing this morning? >> good morning, as you know, our crews are getting out on the roadways. they're finding a lot of downed trees, downed power lines. it's slow moving also because the roadways, our first priority is to get the roadways open so we can get out there to our residents and make sure that emergency response can commence. >> what reports are you getting on fatalities? >> right now, it's too early to tell on that. again, the priority is getting those roads cleared so we can actually get out into the neighborhood. we really hope that, you know, when we get out, we find it's not as bad as we feared but we're certainly preparing to make sure the responders can get to where they need. if there's anyone out there that needs help, they can get there
in response. >> what has there been in terms of rescues? >> right now, like we said, the winds have stopped just a few short hours ago. the debris is to the level, moving the fire truck, moving a police car through the roadway it requires large crews to move a debris out of the way. power ecrews to ensure that downed power lines are not energized and safe to travel. it's too soon to tell how many rescues are taking place. >> yeah, i do understand. it's only been over the last couple of hours to even get out the door to begin this process. and it will take some time to assess. in terms of the debris, describe what our people are seeing. our teams, some of who are trying to get out of punta gorda really are having a hard time because the roads in some places are impassible. >> you nailed it right on the head. we're talking downed trees, other vegetation. you know, the construction
material. the power lines. it's just -- water, standing water, that's making it difficult for the average vehicle to get through, you know, high-water vehicles that emergency crews that's a little better getting through. but it still requires removal of debris and clearly it. just to cut and toss it to the side so they can get through and emergency crews can get to our residents. >> in the damage that you're seeing, it's wind damage, mostly. was there any storm surge to speak of? >> we're still assessing that. we haven't been able to get to those areas that we fear may have received the worst storm surge. certainly, wind and heavy rainfall is what we're seeing just from the initial early, early push. but we certainly expect to see some level of storm surge damage here to our county. >> all right. patrick fuller emergency management director charlotte county. it's been a long night for you. you're getting to work. you're getting your people out
there. please keep us posted. the best of luck to you. you and your team, please stay safe. >> thank you. >> joining me now, as i walk over here right now, is the hillsborough county sheriff. come on up here, we had a chance to speak to you yesterday. you were in the middle of it all. i know in terms of rescues in need. it was one person caught under a tree. this morning, there's still a lot of problems here, describe what you're seeing here. >> 300,000 people without power. a lot of roadways are blocked. trees are down. and we believe the flooding will start. as the storm and energy lets go of the water and comes back. all of the water leaving has nowhere to go. flood plain is 11 feet. they're predicting 25 feet. you can feel the wind, we're not out of the woods, it's still 30-mile-per-hour gusts. >> flooding, it wasn't the storm surge that was the problem. it was the fresh water flooding from the rain coming inland
toward out. and you think the worst is still to come there. >> correct, and the south is where we'll see the problems. again, there's nowhere for the water to go, as we have water, with the energy of the storm saying, okay, tampa, you can have your water back, the fresh water here from the rain we got almost two feet of water. there's nowhere for it to go, so as it blocks, it continues to rise. >> and what about the people -- we haven't seen that many people out. this is normally a busy downtown commuting area here. people don't seem to be going to work today. do you want people to stay home, if you can? >> thank you, and that's a great point. please, don't less curiosity get the best of you. for zones evacuated stay away, i know you want to check on your house. but you have no power. you are going to be uncomfortable. if you give us time, cut the trees down, open up the roads we'll be that more expeditious in getting you back to normal. >> just one last question, i
know you have your work cut out for you here but you've also been on the line with some of your colleagues hit hard, what are they telling you? >> listen, we got a phone call monday, i'm a great friend with the lee county sheriff saying, listen, you're going to get a direct hit. whatever resources you need. talked to him last night, he was standing on top a high water s.w.a.t. barearcat. in the mode, letting us know with the aviation, boats, manpower, we'll start shipping it his way. >> sheriff, thank you for being with us. >> thank you. >> be well. i know you got work to do here. okay. total devastation, reports from lee county, fort myers, the sun coming up here. we have our reporters headed to the hardest hit areas. this is cnn's special live coverage. please say with us.
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this is naples, florida, reports of up to seven feet of water there. earlier this morning i had a chance to speak to pete demaria, a member of the naples fire department about what it was like when the water was coming in. listen. pete, if you can hear me, we're so lucky to have you on. i'm so happy to hear from you to get a sense of what you are seeing there this morning. >> yeah, we had a really strong storm surge that came in yesterday afternoon, affected
our entire community and i would say fortunately it's starting to recede right now and we're trying to get our personnel out and take a look at what's going on first thing at first light this morning. >> reporter: how many rescues did you end up conducting yesterday? >> we conducted about ten rescues leading up to the surge and then we couldn't get our vehicles out of the station. we had about i would get somewhere to four-to-seven foot surge that came up into our station and we couldn't get our vehicle out. we have about six people in our station right now that are held up here until they can get to their home to see what kind of damage they have. >> four to six feet in the station itself and the people in your department only now beginning to assess the damage in their own homes. what are you hearing from people in naples? any people trapped? >> we've had a real tough time
with communications. a lot of cell towers are down. we probably dealt with a full 24 hours of tropical force and hurricane force winds. we're having a hard time communicating with the rest of our area, but we've been pushing out messages the best we can through social media and through internet. so we're hoping to stay inside to stay safe. they wait for us to come by and clear the roads and wait for the surge to recede so they can get out safely and start to get back to normal. >> i don't know if you've been able to step out the door or even look outside but what does it look like outside this morning? >> well, we can certainly see that there's water lines or all the buildings around us, where we're situated a half mile from the gulf, a lot of the
structures, a lot of debris. i don't know that there's as much debris as some other storms but the storm has caused a tremendous amount of damage in our area. >> can you describe what was like when the water was coming? >> we were a little nervous to be honest. we have a good facility here, a cat 5 facility. our living quarters were above that but our bay and some of our entry areas were lower. they're built that way so they can take a flood and then recede. it was unnerving because we couldn't get out and we had some rescues to make. it was difficult, personnel wanted to get out and do their jobs.
>> i'm john berman live in tampa. brianna keilar is in washington. this is cnn special live coverage of ian, which is now a tropical storm moving toward orlando. wind speeds 65 mile-an-hour or so, bringing drenching rain, so many parts of this state have had 20 inches of rain already. can't really handle that much more but we're going to get it as much as eight to ten inches more perhaps in some places. 2.5 million customers without power in florida. one company said they already restored 700,000 customers but more and more people keep getting kicked offline. they might have to rebuild the power systems completely and that could take weeks optimistically if not even longer. the worst of the damage was done on the southwest coast where the storm surge was 10 to 12 feet in some areas, inundating fort
myers, naples, punta gorda. i want to give you a sense of how powerful the force was. i'm in tampa and tampa did not get the worst of it at all but between the winds and the rain, this is some kind of roofing on one of the buildings here. this is a giant piece of-y vinyl and twisted metal. it got ripped off the roof, thrown on to the street here and this was not even the worst of the storm, brianna. >> ian, of course -- >> reporter: hang on one second. i'm so sorry, pbrianna. earlier i spoke to deane criswell, the fema administrator to get a description of what
they are up against this morning. >> the area that has been hit the hardest from what we're hearing right now is lee county. we know there was significant storm surge there. we know that their water system has been impacted and we're focused right now on getting some search and rescue teams who have been out since 4:00 this morning to get out into that area and identify who might need assistance and who might get rescued. some of the sheriffs say they expect a large number of fatalities. that's why we want to get our search and rescue teams out there. we want to save as many lives as possible. >> questions about fatalities this morning that we're hoping to have answers to soon. ian downgraded to a tropical storm in the last few hours. it remains extremely dangerous, though. heavy rain, as much as 20 inches, storm surge as hig