(NEW YORK) — Before Hurricane Ian brought destruction to the Florida Peninsula on Sept. 28, federal and state officials urged Floridians to evacuate their homes and seek shelter because of dangerous winds and deadly storm surge.
Those warnings weren’t for nothing, as at least 100 people in Florida and five people in North Carolina died when Ian moved up the East Coast.
This is how the evacuations took place:
Sept. 27 – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an evacuation order for 12 counties, including Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lee, Levy, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Putnam and Sarasota, when Ian became a Category 3 hurricane, threatening coastal communities.
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Before DeSantis decided to place 2.5 million people under an evacuation order, county officials issued orders for residents to leave as the powerful storm approached.
Sept. 26/Sept. 27 – Florida’s Charlotte County ordered residents in two zones to evacuate the area, including people who lived on Don Pedro Island, Knight Island, Little Gasparilla Island, Gasparilla Island and Manasota Key.
Additionally, people living in mobile homes and trailers, regardless of county, were told to leave the area.
Sept. 26 – Pinellas County issued its evacuation orders based on when Hurricane Ian was forecast to hit the Tampa Bay area.
Officials in Pasco, Hillsborough and Sarasota counties issued evacuation orders on Sept. 26 as Hurricane Ian still had Florida’s southwest coast set in its sights.
Sept. 27 – Criticisms have been lobbied against Lee County officials for issuing a mandatory evacuation for residents less than 24 hours before Ian made landfall as a Category 4 storm, a day after neighboring counties.
DeSantis defended Lee County’s delayed evacuation order on Saturday in Fort Myers, telling reporters that county officials were following the data, which showed the storm hitting Tampa Bay before shifting south to Lee County.
“When we went to bed Monday night, people were saying this is a direct hit on Tampa Bay, worst-case scenario for the state,” the governor said. “As that track started to shift south, and the computer models the next morning, they called for the evacuation, they opened their shelters and they responded very quickly to the data.”
Parts of Lee County, including Fort Myers and Sanibel Island, suffered extensive damage because of the hurricane.
At least 94 people in Florida died in the storm, according to data from local officials. Lee County suffered the most casualties, with 54 deaths, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office said Saturday.
Upward of 700 people were rescued in the county, according to Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno.
Sept 30 – Following its destructive trek across Florida, Hurricane Ian made its way to the Carolinas, prompting South Carolina officials to issue evacuation orders for residents before it made landfall on Sept. 30.
ABC News’ Alexandra Svokos, Meredith Deliso and Mary Kekatos contributed to this report.
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