As Hurricane Ian made landfall in Lee County, Florida, Wednesday afternoon as a Category 4 storm, it brought a devastating storm surge of up to 16 feet that flooded the county seat of Fort Myers.
Mayor Kevin Anderson predicted the severe flooding during an interview earlier in the day.
"We're situated right on the Caloosahatchee River; and so that will bring a lot of water, a lot of flooding," he told CNN on Wednesday morning. "There's [also] going to be some wind damage, loss of power: but I think what's going to be significant is the storm surge."
The storm started moving onshore with the eyewall crossing over the barrier islands of Sanibel and Captiva around noon, then continuing onto the mainland near Cayo Costa at 3:05 p.m., with near 150 mph sustained winds and a minimum central pressure of 940 millibars, as measured by Air Force Reserve storm reconnaissance.
Numerous social media posts showed the volume of the massive storm surge, engulfing the first-floor levels of several buildings and turning streets into rushing rivers.
The city of Naples implemented a curfew at 4 p.m. due to the hazardous conditions, the Fort Myers News-Press reported.
According to the report, Naples Police said the curfew, which exempted first responders and emergency workers, was put into effect to protect the "health, safety and welfare" of visitors and residents.
Just before landfall, Lee County reported 110,000 customers without power, about 60% of the total, the news outlet reported.
It also issued a boil water notice to Fort Myers residents and advised those still in the storm area to "shelter in place."
"All water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth or washing dishes must be boiled at a rolling boil for one minute," the county posted on Facebook. "Or, as an alternative, bottled water may be used."
Weather Channel journalist Mike Seidel said that Fort Myers was showing "the worst" of the storm.
"Everything not [raised] up 20 feet is underwater," Seidel said in a report from the city. "This is one of the worst hurricanes I've ever been in."
After hitting land, the storm is expected to move eastward and eventually withdraw into the Atlantic Ocean off the east coast of Florida as a tropical storm, where it could gain strength and potentially make a second landfall in either Georgia or South Carolina, forecasters are predicting.
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