The latest storm path forecasts for Hurricane Ian bring harsh news for Southwest Florida. There is now an expectation of 8 to 12 feet of storm surge in Fort Myers.
“The county is currently under hurricane warning and flood watch,” said Arlene Hunter, city manager of Bonita Springs. “Please continue to monitor the Lee County Emergency Operations website.”
Available shelters now include: Dunbar High School; East Lee County High School; Estero Recreation Center; Gateway High School; Hertz Arena; Harns Marsh Middle School; Island Coast High School; Manatee Elementary School; Oak Hammock Middle School; South Fort Myers High School; Treeline Elementary School; Tortuga Preserve Elementary; Varsity Lakes Middle School; and Veterans Park Recreation Center.
All Lee County shelters are pet friendly.
Officials recommend individuals staying at shelters bring a kit including water, snacks, a sleeping bag and pillow, folding chairs, all appropriate medications and eyeglasses, toilet paper, a three-day supply of clothes, sleep masks and ear plugs, hygiene items, games, books, a phone charger, a battery bank, and instant coffee or tea bags.
“We do know that we are going to face this storm,” said Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno. “As we look at this storm, first of all, safety and security is always No. 1. We look at this storm in three parts: before, during and after.
“Before the storm we want you to do everything you can. Getting your non-perishables, securing your house, and making sure you are certain you’re ready for what’s coming your way, or what possibly could be coming your way.”
As for what happens during the storm, Marceno said it’s important individuals are secure in their safety zone whenever hurricane-force winds reach the region, whether that is securely in their home or evacuated to a shelter or outside the region.
He stressed that once winds reach 45 miles per hour, law enforcement will no longer respond to calls for assistance until conditions change. “We are not going to respond until it is safe to do so,” he said. “That’s why we need you in a safe and secure place.”
After the storm, Marceno stressed that individuals should not immediately leave their homes unless they need to be out.
“We need to assess the entire county,” he said. “We need to assess the roadways.”