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Hurricane Ian live updates: Deaths reported amid 'life-changing' storm

ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Ian's winds weakened to 65 mph on Thursday morning, downgrading the system to a tropical storm as it moved over central Florida. The storm made landfall on Florida's west coast on Wednesday as a powerful Category 4 hurricane.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency.

Here's how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Sep 29, 12:03 PM EDT
Tampa International Airport to reopen 10 a.m. Friday

Tampa International Airport announced it will resume commercial operations on Friday at 10 a.m. after shutting down due to Hurricane Ian.

Although an inspection of the airfield and facilities determined the airport did not sustain any serious damage during the storm, reopening Friday will give the airport and its partners, including the Federal Aviation Administration, Transportation Security Administration and airlines, time to take necessary steps to resume business safely, the airport said in a statement.

This includes bringing back aircraft and staff that had been removed ahead of the storm.

The airport had suspended operations at 5 p.m. on Tuesday ahead of Ian's landfall.

-ABC News' Amanda Maile

Sep 29, 11:13 AM EDT
Hurricane warning issued for entire coast of South Carolina

The National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane warning for the entire coast of South Carolina. A hurricane watch had been in place for the entire state earlier.

Now a tropical storm, Ian is expected to become a hurricane again Thursday night before making landfall near Charleston, South Carolina, on Friday morning or early afternoon.

Ian currently has maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, just 4 mph from returning to hurricane strength.

Sep 29, 10:51 AM EDT
Hillsborough County, including Tampa, lifts evacuation order

After conducting initial safety assessments, Hillsborough County Administrator Bonnie Wise has removed the evacuation order in place.

After hosting more than 8,000 evacuees across 47 shelters, the county is preparing to conclude its sheltering operations or transition shelter availability for evacuees who continue to need assistance.

"Residents whose homes have been damaged are encouraged to find a safe place to stay. That place might be with family, friends, or at a nearby hotel," the county said in a statement.

The county also urged residents heading home to drive with caution, not to drive through obstructions or standing water and to stay away from downed power lines.

-ABC News' Alexandra Faul

Sep 29, 10:37 AM EDT
FEMA search and rescue teams out since 4 a.m., administrator says

The Federal Emergency Management Agency's search and rescue teams have been out in the field since 4 a.m. Thursday, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell told "Good Morning America." It will prioritize saving lives and helping people impacted by the storm, who may be trapped.

Criswell said FEMA has been hearing reports of people calling 911 through the night and will use information it has gathered in those hours to prioritize rescues in harder-hit areas.

"This has been just a catastrophic storm and it's left significant damage in its path," Criswell said.

Criswell said FEMA will be able to conduct rescues by land, air and sea.

The most significant impacts have been happening in Lee County, where people are without power and water. Criswell also expects impacts across the western coast of Florida.

"Water is dangerous. Even though the storm has passed, the water that is there is still dangerous. There's debris, there's chemicals, there could be downed power lines. People need to be careful, they need to stay vigilant," Criswell said.

Sep 29, 10:00 AM EDT
Central Florida seeing 500-year flood event, damage will take years to repair, DeSantis says

There is potentially major flooding in Orange and Seminole counties and St. Johns River, potentially up to Jacksonville in northeast Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday.

"The amount of water that's been rising and will likely continue to rise today, even as the storm is passing, is basically a 500-year flood event. And I know Seminole County has done evacuations, I know they've opened shelters, but we're gonna see a lot of images about the destruction that was done in southwest Florida and obviously we have massive assets there," DeSantis said.

"This storm is having broad impacts across the state and some of the flooding you're going to see in areas hundreds of miles from where this [storm] made landfall are going to set records. And that's going to obviously be the things that will need to be responded to," DeSantis added.

The damage caused by the storm will likely take years to repair, he said.

"You're looking at a storm that's changed the character of a significant part of our state. And this is going to require not just emergency response now, in the days or weeks ahead. I mean, this is going to require years of effort to be able to rebuild and to come back," DeSantis said.

Sep 29, 9:48 AM EDT
Storm severely damages Sanibel Causeway, Pine Island bridge

The Sanibel Causeway, which connects Sanibel Island to mainland Florida, and the Matlacha Pass Bridge, which connects Pine Island to the mainland in Cape Coral, are not passable and will require structural rebuilds due to the storm, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday.

Officials have received reports of damages to other bridges. A team of 100 engineers is on site to do bridge inspections.

"I anticipate there will likely be other bridges that have suffered damage, but once bridges are inspected and determined to be safe, they will be reopened as soon as possible," DeSantis said.

Sep 29, 9:37 AM EDT
Biden, DeSantis speak again after Ian's destruction

President Joe Biden spoke with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Thursday morning to discuss support for the state in response to Hurricane Ian and the disaster declaration the president approved overnight, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a tweet.

"The President told the Governor he is sending his FEMA Administrator to Florida tomorrow to check in on response efforts and see where additional support is needed. The President and Governor committed to continued close coordination," she wrote in a tweet.

Biden first spoke to the governor, a leading political opponent of Biden and possible 2024 Republican presidential candidate, on Tuesday after several days of questions about whether the two would connect.

Sep 29, 9:20 AM EDT
'We've never seen a flood event like this,' Florida governor says

Hurricane Ian caused extensive and "historic" impact and damage in across Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a press conference Thursday.

"The impacts of this storm are historic and the damage that was done has been historic and this is just off initial assessments. There's going to be a lot more assessing that goes on in the days ahead," DeSantis said.

"But I think we've never seen a flood event like this. We've never seen storm surge of this magnitude and it hit an area where there's a lot of people in a lot of those low-lying areas and it's going to end up doing extensive damage to a lot of people's homes," he said.

As of 6 a.m., there are 2.02 million customers without power, according to DeSantis.

DeSantis said Charlotte and Lee counties are "basically off the grid at this point." The areas will likely need a rebuilding of their infrastructure.

Sep 29, 8:45 AM EDT
Ian, now a tropical storm, heads for South Carolina, Georgia coast

Ian, now a tropical storm, is near Florida’s east coast and is moving back over water. Ian is expected to re-intensify and could be at near-hurricane strength when it approaches the coast of South Carolina on Friday.

A hurricane watch has been issued for South Carolina and the Georgia coast.

Ian is producing catastrophic flooding over east-central Florida and is expected to produce life-threatening flooding, storm surge and gusty winds across portions of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.

There are already more than 14,000 customers without power in Georgia.

Sep 29, 8:24 AM EDT
Water service out in Punta Gorda, boil water notice in effect until further notice

Hurricane Ian caused serious damage to the city of Punta Gorda's water system, leaving it empty, the city said in an alert sent out to residents.

Water services will be restored as repairs are made, but the city warned it may take days to complete the repairs, officials said.

The city is under a boil water notice.

Officials set up a water fill station for residents and additional water availability has been requested through the Emergency Operations Center, the city said.

Sep 29, 8:10 AM EDT
Power restored to 502,100 customers, some will experience prolonged outages

Power has been restored to 502,100 customers, as of 5 a.m. Thursday, Florida Power & Light Company said.

But, the power utility company warned that some customers may experience prolonged outages "because portions of the electric system in Southwest Florida will need to be rebuilt rather than repaired," FPL said in a statement.

The company said is still working to restore power to 1.2 million customers.

FPL said its workforce has increased to more than 20,000 people, including mutual assistance from 30 states, as it works around the clock to restore power.

"Hurricane Ian has forever altered the lives of so many of our fellow Floridians and we recognize the road to recovery will be long and challenging," Eric Silagy, chairman and CEO of FPL, said in a statement.

Sep 29, 7:58 AM EDT
Ian a deadly, 'life-changing' storm, Lee County sheriff says

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno told ABC News' Good Morning America that Hurricane Ian was very unpredictable, with officials tracking the storm every minute and they didn't know where it would hit.

"This is a life-changing event for all of us. We tracked that storm up the coast of Florida, it was very unpredictable," Marceno said.

He added, "We didn't know where it would hit. I can tell you it came into Lee County strong and it was slow moving."

Marceno said there were fatalities, but he didn't yet know the exact number.

Marceno said they are already assessing the area, but the whole area is "crushed" and people are trapped. Marceno said they have thousands of 911 calls that they are currently answering.

"We still cannot access many of the people that are in need," Marceno said. "It's a real, real rough road ahead."

Sep 29, 7:21 AM EDT
Biden Approves Florida Disaster Declaration

President Joe Biden has approved a major disaster declaration for Florida residents in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota counties.

“Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster,” the White House said.

Sep 29, 6:42 AM EDT
Conditions in Kissimmee and neighboring counties in Florida worsened overnight

Flooding has hit several parts of the Orlando area, including Seminole, Osceola, Lake counties and other neighboring areas.

ABC News' Orlando affiliate WFTV said that first responders in Kissimmee rescued at least one person from a couple of vehicles that had been partially submerged during a storm surge overnight.

It is unclear how severe the damage is in the area but witnesses reported heavy and sustained wind and rain throughout the overnight hours.

Sep 29, 6:40 AM EDT
Flash flood emergency declared near Orlando

A flash flood emergency was declared in areas north of Orlando as the region was hit by about a foot of rain, the National Weather Service said.

The declaration covered Sanford, Lake Mary and Heathrow, the service said. Nearby Central Orange, Seminole and South Central Volusia were also under flash flood warnings.

“This is a particularly dangerous situation,” the service said. “Seek higher ground now! Life threatening flash flooding of low water crossings, small creeks and streams, urban areas, highways, streets and underpasses.”

Parts of the region have seen more than 16 inches of rain within 24 hours, with more than 9 inches in the last six hours, making the storm a 1,000-year flood event in the Orlando area and to the north.

Sep 29, 5:50 AM EDT
Power outages spread to 2.5 million customers

More than 2.5 million customers were without power in Florida at about 5:30 a.m. on Thursday, the state’s providers said.

Sep 29, 5:09 AM EDT
Ian becomes tropical storm with 65 mph winds

Ian’s winds slowed to 65 mph early on Thursday morning, downgrading the system to a tropical storm, the National Hurricane Center said.

“The Hurricane Warnings along the east and west coasts of the Florida peninsula have been changed to Tropical Storm Warnings,” the center said.

Sep 29, 5:20 AM EDT
Biden and DeSantis update schedules for Thursday

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will be holding his next press conference on the latest developments of Hurricane Ian at 8:45 a.m. ET at the State Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee.

President Joe Biden, meanwhile, will visit FEMA headquarters in Washington, D.C. to receive an update on Hurricane Ian at 12 p.m. ET.

While Hurricane Ian is expected to become a tropical storm on Thursday, the storm has battered southwest Florida and has left more than 2 million people without power so far.

Sep 29, 2:15 AM EDT
Ian now 75 mph Category 1 hurricane, expected to become tropical storm later this morning

As of the 2 a.m. ET advisory this morning, Ian continues to maintain its hurricane status.

However, it has weakened to a 75 mph Category 1 hurricane and is expected to become a tropical storm later this morning before emerging off of Florida’s east coast.

Ian’s new track will be issued and updated again at 5 a.m. ET.

Sep 29, 2:09 AM EDT
2.3 million customers without power, Florida providers say

Florida's electric providers said more than 2.3 million customers were without power at about 2 a.m. local time.

Florida Power & Light, the state's largest provider, reported more than 1.1 million outages for its 5.7 million customers.

“Hurricane Ian’s catastrophic winds will mean parts of our system will need to be rebuilt -- not restored,” the company said on Twitter late Wednesday. “Be prepared for widespread, extended outages as we are assessing the damage. We are already at work restoring power where we can do so safely.”

Sep 29, 12:38 AM EDT
Portions of Fort Myers under up to 4 feet of water

Portions of Fort Myers are under up to 4 feet of water, the city said late Wednesday night, and residents are being told to stay inside as first responders try and assess the damage from Hurricane Ian.

"We need to ensure that the roads are clear so that our first responders and our assistance crews can go out there and help everyone that needs us," the city wrote on Twitter. "PLEASE, please, please stay inside."

Sep 29, 12:04 AM EDT
Jacksonville airport cancels all flights Thursday

Jacksonville International Airport has canceled all flights for Thursday and the terminal will be closed.

Sep 28, 11:29 PM EDT
Hurricane Ian now Category 1 storm

Ian continues to gradually weaken as it moves across the Florida Peninsula, now a Category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds down to 90 mph. The storm is moving to the north-northeast at 8 mph, and the center is currently about 70 miles south of Orlando.

While Ian is weakening, it's still bringing widespread dangerous weather impacts across the state.

Sep 28, 10:58 PM EDT
Flash flood emergency issued in west-central Florida

A Flash Flood Emergency has been issued for parts of Sarasota, Manatee, Desoto, Hardee and Highlands counties in west-central Florida, with other areas experiencing life-threatening flash flooding.

Between 12 to 19 inches of rain has already fallen in the area.

-ABC News' Daniel Peck

Sep 28, 10:51 PM EDT
Lee County sheriff: Reports of buildings compromised and vehicles floating

As Hurricane Ian makes its way across Florida, counties are assessing the devastation left by the storm.

In a Wednesday night press conference, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said that Ian hit the county extremely hard.

Marceno said he'd gotten reports of compromised homes and businesses and of vehicles floating into the ocean.

Officials said part of Fort Myers, which is in Lee County, was "decimated" by Hurricane Ian.

Marceno said residents are in need, and the county will respond to emergency calls once it's safe.

-ABC News' William Gretsky

Sep 28, 10:46 PM EDT
Ian continues to gradually weaken, winds at 100 mph

Hurricane Ian continues to gradually weaken as of 10 p.m. ET, with maximum sustained winds now down to 100 mph. The storm is moving to the north-northeast at 8 mph, and its center is currently about 80 miles south of Orlando.

The Florida Peninsula continues to experience dangerous weather impacts, including strong wind gusts, torrential rain and persistent storm surge in some areas.

Areas of relentless heavy rain will continue to bring the threat of dangerous flash flooding in some areas. This threat becomes even more dangerous during overnight hours.

-ABC News' Dan Peck

Sep 28, 10:33 PM EDT
At least 30 rescues in Naples Wednesday

There were at least 30 rescues in Naples, Florida, on Wednesday amid ongoing rescue operations, the Collier County Sheriff's Office said.

"Our East Naples deputies did 30 rescue missions today. We are still collecting numbers from other areas. We are still rescuing people," the office wrote on Facebook.

"Water is everywhere. It will recede. There will be damage," it added. "Tomorrow we will have a better idea of the extent of damage. We will keep you updated."

Sep 28, 10:26 PM EDT
More than 2 million customers without power in Florida

The number of customers without power in Florida has topped 2 million, as Hurricane Ian continues making its way across the state.

Most of the outages are in the southern Gulf side of the state, primarily in Lee, Collier, Charlotte and Sarasota counties.

The outages are moving east as the storm moves across the state.

-ABC News' Darren Reynolds

Sep 28, 9:28 PM EDT
Jacksonville mayor announces closure of 3 major beaches

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced Wednesday evening that the city is closing Atlantic, Neptune and Jacksonville beaches ahead of Hurricane Ian’s impact on the area.

“We will reopen as soon as it’s safe for citizens,” Curry tweeted.

Sep 28, 9:26 PM EDT
Over 1.9 million customers without power in Florida

The number of customers without power in Florida has topped 1.9 million, as Hurricane Ian continues making its way across the state.

Most of the outages are in the southern Gulf side of the state, primarily in Lee, Collier, Charlotte and Sarasota counties.

The outages are moving east as the storm moves across the state.

-ABC News' Darren Reynolds

Sep 28, 9:13 PM EDT
Ian downgraded to Category 2 hurricane

Hurricane Ian has been downgraded to a Category 2 storm as of a 9 p.m. ET update, with winds now at 105 mph.

-ABC News' Riley Winch

Sep 28, 8:30 PM EDT
Extreme wind warning issued for central Florida counties

Hurricane Ian remains a Category 3 storm as of an 8 p.m. ET update, with winds dropping to 115 mph.

The National Weather Service issued a new Extreme Wind Warning for Highlands, Hardee, Charlotte, Polk and DeSoto Counties in central Florida until 9:30 p.m. ET.

-ABC News' Riley Winch

Sep 28, 7:31 PM EDT
'We hear your calls': Sheriff

Lee County has received more than double the number of 911 calls it typically receives amid Hurricane Ian, according to Sheriff Carmine Marceno, as first responders have suspended their emergency response during the major storm.

"We hear your calls and are aware that Hurricane Ian was a powerful and devastating weather event," Marceno said in a social media post Wednesday evening. "We want to get to you. We want to save you. As soon as safely possible, our assets are ready to deploy to come to your aide."

Ben Abes, Lee County's public safety director, said current conditions, including flooding, make it "impossible" for first responders to go out. He said the county is tracking 911 calls and prioritizing them once first responders are able to act after the hurricane passes.

"We are aware of a number of calls of people who are stranded due to high water," he said during a press briefing Wednesday evening. "This is a scary situation. We urge you not to panic."

Lee County, which is home to hard-hit Fort Myers, Sanibel and Bonita Beach, issued a countywide curfew Wednesday evening due to the storm that is in effect until further notice.

Sep 28, 7:15 PM EDT
Ian downgraded to a Category 3 hurricane

Hurricane Ian has weakened to a Category 3 storm hours after making landfall near Fort Myers as a major hurricane.

While the strength of the storm has diminished slightly, Ian is still wreaking havoc on the Sunshine State as a devastating storm.

The highest wind gust measured at 132 mph at Port Charlotte, and maximum sustained winds are currently at 125 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center’s 7 p.m. advisory.

Water levels in Fort Myers have been reported at more than 7 feet, the advisory states.

-ABC News' Riley Winch

Sep 28, 7:10 PM EDT
Sanibel, Fort Myers Beach 'decimated' by Ian, local officials say

Sanibel Island and Fort Myers Beach have been "decimated" by Ian after the major hurricane made landfall there.

About 75% of Lee County is without power, and several people are stranded due to high water, officials from Lee County Emergency Management announced during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

A curfew in Lee County was implemented beginning at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Forecasts predict that it will not be safe to venture outside in the region until 5 a.m. on Thursday, officials said.

The number of injuries or fatalities is not yet clear, officials said, adding that the recovery efforts will take months.

-ABC News' Will Gretsky

Sep 28, 6:38 PM EDT
Wind gusts in eye wall measure at 104 mph

A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration station in Venice Beach, Florida, has measured wind gusts of 104 mph within the northern eye wall of Hurricane Ian, according to the 6 p.m. storm advisory.

The storm is currently battering the Florida peninsula with catastrophic storm surge, winds and flooding, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Maximum sustained winds measured at 130 mph, and the storm system has begun churning even slower at 8 mph north-northeast -- toward the east coast of the state.

-ABC News' Melissa Griffin

Sep 28, 6:33 PM EDT
'Massive mobilization' of utility trucks on the way to Florida, governor says

A caravan of utility trucks is making its way from several states toward the parts of Florida most battered by Hurricane Ian to restore power after the worst of the storm has passed, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced during a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

"We have a massive, massive mobilization," DeSantis said, adding that workers are coming from other southern states accustomed to hurricane cleanup, such as Texas and Louisiana.

More nearly 1.5 million customers in Florida were without power Wednesday as Ian made landfall near Fort Myers.

Ian continued to batter a large swath of Florida at 6:15 p.m. ET, with life-threatening storm surge all along the southwest coast — up to 12 feet in some places, DeSantis said.

Downtown Naples was reportedly completely flooded due to record storm surge, and while there were also reports of structural damage in Lee County, DeSantis said.

"This was a top five hurricane to ever hit the Florida peninsula," the governor said.

DeSantis said that devastating inland flooding was inundating much of the regions experiencing hurricane conditions, as well.

DeSantis has declared a major disaster in the state.

-ABC News' Will Gretsky

Sep 28, 6:13 PM EDT
Fort Myers, Naples issue curfews

The city of Fort Myers in southwest Florida has issued a citywide curfew "to protect and safeguard the health, safety and welfare of residents, visitors and first responders." The curfew started at 6 p.m. Wednesday and will be in effect for the next 48 hours.

Down the coast, the city of Naples also issued a citywide curfew earlier Wednesday afternoon, effective immediately until further notice.

Naples reported record storm surge Wednesday morning, before Ian made landfall.

Sep 28, 4:54 PM EDT
Ian makes 2nd landfall on Florida mainland

Hurricane Ian made a second landfall just south of Punta Gorda with maximum sustained winds of 145 mph.

Ian made initial landfall on a barrier island near Cayo Costa just after 3 p.m.

Sep 28, 4:48 PM EDT
South Carolina, North Carolina issue states of emergency

The governors of South Carolina and North Carolina each issued states of emergency on Wednesday afternoon in preparation for Ian's arrival.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said no evacuations or school closures have been ordered yet.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said the decision would help first responders and farmers and protect customers from price gouging.

The storm is expected to cross Florida and enter the Atlantic before making landfall again along the South Carolina coast over the weekend.

Sep 28, 4:13 PM EDT
Over 1 million power outages

Over 1 million Florida customers were without power on Wednesday just after Ian made landfall.

The majority of outages were along the west coast in Sarasota, Lee, Charlotte and Collier counties.

Sep 28, 3:12 PM EDT
Ian makes landfall as Category 4

Hurricane Ian made landfall on Florida's west coast Wednesday afternoon as a powerful Category 4 storm, slamming the coastline with powerful 150 mph winds and dangerous storm surge.

Landfall was at about 3:05 p.m. ET near Cayo Costa, an island off the coast of Fort Myers.

For southwest Florida, Ian “will probably be the big one that they always remember,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

The governor said Ian will likely stay in the state until Thursday, exiting from Daytona Beach.

Sep 28, 2:07 PM EDT
Biden to visit FEMA on Thursday

President Joe Biden will visit FEMA headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Thursday to receive an update on Hurricane Ian, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

“We have deployed significant federal resources to the region to help prepare for the hurricane,” Jean-Pierre said at Wednesday’s press briefing. “We have more than 1,300 federal response workers on the ground in Florida. ... Three-hundred Army Corps personnel are on the ground to support power and fuel assessments. Three-hundred ambulances are supporting local officials, and multiple federal disaster medical assistance teams are deployed to Florida and Georgia.”

Sep 28, 1:33 PM EDT
Counties suspend emergency response calls

Sarasota County, Florida, officials announced emergency crews will no longer respond to calls due to Hurricane Ian.

In Charlotte County, just north of Fort Myers, emergency response calls for fire and EMS service will also be suspended.

The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office added, “911 will still be operational and calls will be triaged for response as soon as weather condition permit.”

Sep 28, 1:25 PM EDT
Naples issues curfew

The city of Naples, in southwest Florida, has issued a citywide curfew, effective immediately until further notice.

Naples has reported a wind gust of 112 mph as Hurricane Ian inches closer to shore.

Sep 28, 1:03 PM EDT
Extreme wind warning issued

An extreme wind warning has been issued near Fort Myers as Hurricane Ian nears.

Naples has reported a wind gust of 112 mph.

Fort Myers resident Debbie Levenson and her husband chose not to evacuate for Hurricane Ian and are staying put at home.

“Hurricanes are a concern, but I don't freak out about it. You do what you have to do. You get your supplies, make sure you have flashlights, do your laundry ahead of time in case you lose power,” she told ABC News. “We bought bottled water and wine. We put gas in the car. The store shelves were not empty.”

"We are concerned with local flooding, but we drained the pool and are keeping an eye on the roads,” she continued. “Most of the neighborhood has stayed. Neighbors only left if they had small children or had a medical reason.”

Ken Graham, director of NOAA's National Weather Service, warned people sheltering in place to not venture out once the storm passes over.

“Don’t go out there. It’s so dangerous to be out there. So even if you see the water receding, it’s not the time to go out,” he said.

-ABC News' Morgan Korn and Max Golembo

Sep 28, 12:03 PM EDT
Ian nears record-breaking winds

Hurricane Ian, a Category 4 with 155 mph winds, is nearing record-breaking wind levels.

Only four hurricanes have ever made landfall in the continental U.S. with winds over 155 mph: Labor Day in 1935 with 185 mph winds; Camille in 1969 with 175 mph winds; Andrew in 1992 with 165 mph; and Michael in 2018 with 160 mph.

Sep 28, 11:53 AM EDT
Naples sees record storm surge

Naples, Florida, reached a new record-high storm surge of 4.8 feet Wednesday morning -- and the water continues to rise.

This beats the record of 4.25 feet reached during Hurricane Irma in 2017.

Ken Graham, director of NOAA's National Weather Service, warned Wednesday, “This is going to be a storm we talk about for many years to come -- historic event."

Sep 28, 11:13 AM EDT
Ian’s eyewall moving on shore

Hurricane Ian’s eyewall is moving on shore.

The powerful Category 4 storm is set to bring catastrophic storm surge, winds and flooding.

Sanibel Island has reported sustained winds of 58 mph with a wind gust reaching 75 mph.

Sep 28, 10:45 AM EDT
Over 2,000 flights canceled

The airports in Orlando, Miami, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale are leading the world in flight cancellations Wednesday morning.

Over 2,000 flights have been canceled within, into, or out of the United States on Wednesday.

Another 1,600 flights are already cancelled for Thursday.

The Tampa International Airport will remain closed through Thursday.

-ABC News’ Ahmad Hemingway and Sam Sweeney

Sep 28, 10:00 AM EDT
Over 172,000 power outages

Over 172,000 Florida customers are without power on Wednesday morning as Ian nears.

Sep 28, 9:09 AM EDT
18 feet of storm surge possible

Up to 18 feet of dangerous storm surge is forecast along Florida’s Southwest coast, including Englewood, Bonita Beach and Charlotte Harbor.

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell warned Tuesday that her biggest concern with Ian was storm surge.

"In 2018, when Hurricane Michael impacted the Florida Panhandle, there were five recorded fatalities as a result of storm surge,” she noted.

Sep 28, 8:32 AM EDT
Gov.: Treat storm like tornado approaching your home

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis warned Wednesday morning that Ian could potentially make landfall as a Category 5 hurricane.

“This is a powerful storm that should be treated like you would treat a tornado approaching your home,” he said. “This one has just strengthened and strengthened, and it is the real deal. So, it is going to do a lot of damage, so people should be prepared for that.”

More than 200 shelters are open in South Florida, he said.

Twenty-six states, including New York and New Jersey, have sent support to Florida, he said.

Sep 28, 7:41 AM EDT
Winds near Category 5 as storm approaches Florida

Hurricane Ian approached Category 5 status at about 6:30 a.m. ET, with its winds topping out at 155 mph.

Only four hurricanes have ever made landfall in the continental U.S. with winds over 155 mph: Labor Day in 1935 with 185 mph winds; Camille in 1969 with 175 mph winds; Andrew in 1992 with 165 mph; and Michael in 2018 with 160 mph.

Severe Category 5 hurricanes have winds above 157 mph.

“Rapidly intensifying Ian forecast to cause catastrophic storm surge, winds, and flooding in the Florida peninsula,” the National Hurricane Center said at 7 a.m. ET.

Sep 28, 7:23 AM EDT
16 feet of storm surge possible

A whopping 16 feet of storm surge is possible around Fort Myers.

Up to 11 feet of storm surge is forecast for Naples while a maximum of 10 feet is expected for the Sarasota area.

"Our biggest concern as we wait for this storm to make landfall is storm surge," FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell warned Tuesday. "In 2018, when Hurricane Michael impacted the Florida Panhandle, there were five recorded fatalities as a result of storm surge."

Sep 28, 7:15 AM EDT
Nearly 2,000 flights canceled

Florida’s airports are leading the world in flight cancellations Wednesday morning.

There are at least 1,903 flight cancellations within, into, or out of the United States for Wednesday.

Sep 28, 5:13 AM EDT
Ian strengthens to Category 4 hurricane

Hurricane Ian strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane on Wednesday morning, as its winds climbed to 140 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

The storm is the first Category 4 hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico since Hurricane Rita in September 2005.

Sep 28, 3:06 AM EDT
Ian moves closer to Florida’s west coast

Hurricane Ian was moving closer to Florida’s west coast, the National Hurricane Center said in its 2 a.m. ET update on the storm's position.

The eye of the Category 3 storm was about 95 miles southwest of Naples, Florida, and was moving north-northeast at about 10 mph, officials said.

“On the forecast track, the center of Ian is expected to approach the west coast of Florida within the hurricane warning area this morning, and move onshore later today,” the update said.

Officials said the storm was expected to pass over central Florida on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, before emerging over the Atlantic Ocean late Thursday.

The hurricane was “expected to cause life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic winds and flooding in the Florida peninsula,” the update said.

Sep 28, 2:28 AM EDT
Miami-Dade County suspends transit service

Officials in Miami-Dade County suspended transit services at 1 a.m. ET on Wednesday, as Hurricane Ian approached Florida.

Florida’s most populous county halted its Metrobus, Metrorail, Metromover and Special Transportation Services until further notice, officials said in a news release.

Sep 28, 12:24 AM EDT
DeSantis tells Floridians time to evacuate is 'now'

Hurricane Ian is fast approaching Florida, and the time to leave is "now" if you're in an evacuation zone, Gov. Ron DeSantis said late Tuesday during a press conference.

"Your time to evacuate is coming to an end. You need to evacuate now. You're going to start feeling major impacts of this storm relatively soon," the governor said. "Now is the time to do it, and now is the time to act."

As of Tuesday night, about 8,000 people were without power in the southern part of Florida, officials said.

Conditions are expected to continue to deteriorate across central and south Florida, with landfall currently forecast sometime between Wednesday afternoon and early evening.

Elsewhere, a tropical storm warning is now in effect along the coast of Georgia and up to Charleston, S.C.

Sep 27, 10:31 PM EDT
Biden spoke with DeSantis, White House press secretary says

President Joe Biden spoke Tuesday night with Gov. Ron DeSantis ahead of Hurricane Ian's arrival "to discuss the steps the federal government is taking to help Florida prepare," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tweeted.

"The president and the governor committed to continued close coordination," Jean-Pierre wrote.

Sep 27, 10:18 PM EDT
Cuba without power in wake of Hurricane Ian: Reports

Cuba has lost power after Hurricane Ian made landfall on the island Tuesday, according to reports.

There is "0 electricity generation" in the country, according to a National Electric System update.

"This complicated condition is also associated with complex weather conditions that have affected the SEN infrastructure," the update said.

Sep 27, 8:33 PM EDT
Some Florida residents begin evacuating ahead of Ian's landfall

Some Florida residents have begun evacuating their homes as Hurricane Ian approaches.

People are seeking shelter ahead of the storm, which is currently forecast to make landfall as a Category 4 hurricane sometime Wednesday afternoon.

Ian remains a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph as of Tuesday might.

It’s moving north-northeast at 10 mph and the center is located about 180 miles south-southwest of Punta Gorda, Florida.

There have been multiple tornado warnings in the area over the past few hours. A large tornado was reported on the ground in southern Broward County, near Davie, at around 7:30 p.m. ET.

Sep 27, 7:34 PM EDT
Satellite images show lightning-packed eye of Hurricane Ian

Hurricane Ian is barreling toward Florida, and satellite images show the eye of the storm packed with lightning as it strengthens over the Gulf of Mexico.

The storm is currently forecast to make landfall on Florida's western coast on Wednesday between 1 and 6 p.m., somewhere between Port Charlotte and Sarasota.

See the latest maps and read more about Hurricane Ian's projections and possible paths here.

Sep 27, 6:31 PM EDT
DeSantis on Hurricane Ian: 'This thing is the real deal, it is a major, major storm'

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has urged Floridians to take Hurricane Ian seriously as the powerful storm heads to the state.

"You don't get a mulligan when your personal safety is at risk,” he said during a press conference on Tuesday.

About 2.5 million people in the state are under evacuation orders.

"This thing is the real deal. It is a major, major storm,” DeSantis said.

-ABC News’ Darren Reynolds

Sep 27, 5:43 PM EDT
5,000 Florida Guardsmen activated and prepping for Hurricane Ian

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has activated 5,000 Florida National Guardsmen to armories across the state in preparation for Hurricane Ian, which is forecast to hit the state on Wednesday.

Roughly 2,000 National Guard members from neighboring states such as Tennessee are also being activated to assist, the Florida National Guard said in a statement Tuesday.

"The Florida National Guard is well-equipped, with assets including high-wheeled vehicles, helicopters, boats, generators and more," the statement said.

The U.S. Navy has authorized non-essential personnel in various Florida counties to evacuate.

-ABC News’ Matt Seyler

Sep 27, 5:12 PM EDT
Landfall forecast for Wednesday afternoon or evening

Hurricane Ian, barreling north toward Florida with 120 mph winds, is now located about 230 miles away from Sarasota.

Ian is expected to make landfall in Florida on Wednesday afternoon or early evening.

Ian's outer bands are already hitting South Florida, bringing a threat of heavy downpours, strong wind gusts, frequent lightning and even tornadoes. A tornado watch is in effect for South Florida until 5 a.m. Wednesday.

-ABC News’ Dan Peck

Sep 27, 4:51 PM EDT
Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando to close

Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando will close Wednesday and Thursday due to the storm.

Sep 27, 3:56 PM EDT
Coastal Georgia, South Carolina under tropical storm watches

As Ian moves north over Florida, tropical storm force winds will reach coastal Georgia and South Carolina.

Tropical storm watches have been issued for Savannah and near Charleston.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has issued a state of emergency.

Sep 27, 2:57 PM EDT
Ian, a Category 3, expected to strengthen more

Ian, now a Category 3 hurricane with 120 mph winds, has strengthened on Tuesday and is forecast to strengthen even more into the night.

People walk through a flooded street in Batabano, Cuba, Sept. 27, 2022, during the...Read More

The latest track shows Ian making landfall on Wednesday, striking the west coast of Florida between Tampa and Fort Myers, bringing flooding and damaging winds.

Hurricane warnings are in effect from Tampa to Fort Myers and storm surge warnings are in effect for a large portion of Florida’s west coast.

There is also a risk for tornadoes in Florida Tuesday and Wednesday.

Sep 27, 2:34 PM EDT
FEMA: 'Do not underestimate' Ian

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell warned Tuesday, "Floridians are going to experience the impacts from the storm for a very long time."

"Our biggest concern as we wait for this storm to make landfall is storm surge," Criswell said. "In 2018, when Hurricane Michael impacted the Florida Panhandle, there were five recorded fatalities as a result of storm surge. So therefore, if people are told to evacuate by their local officials, please listen to them. The decision you choose to make may mean the difference between life and death."

President Joe Biden on Tuesday urged residents to "evacuate when ordered."

Biden said he spoke to the mayors of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater Tuesday morning and told them to "contact me directly" for "whatever they need."

Criswell said a search and rescue coordination group has been activated, including members from FEMA's urban search and rescue teams, the Coast Guard, the Department of Defense and the Department of the Interior.

The Red Cross has established 29 shelters and is prepared to open 60 more shelters if needed, she said.

Criswell stressed, "To those who may be watching at home, get ready and do not underestimate the potential that the storm can bring."

Sep 27, 2:28 PM EDT
Orlando’s airport closing Wednesday

The Orlando International Airport said operations will stop at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

The St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport is closing at 1 p.m. Tuesday while Tampa International Airport is suspending flights at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

The Sarasota Bradenton International Airport is closing at 8 p.m. Tuesday while the Melbourne Orlando International Airport will stop flights at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Sep 27, 12:25 PM EDT

 

Orlando’s airport closing Wednesday

 

The Orlando International Airport said operations will stop at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

The St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport is closing at 1 p.m. Tuesday while Tampa International Airport is suspending flights at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Sep 27, 12:03 PM EDT
Coastal Georgia, South Carolina under tropical storm watches

As Ian moves north over Florida, tropical storm force winds will reach coastal Georgia and South Carolina.

Tropical storm watches have been issued for Savannah and near Charleston.

Sep 27, 11:13 AM EDT
Landfall in Florida forecast for Wednesday afternoon

Hurricane Ian’s track is moving south, with landfall forecast for late afternoon Wednesday between Tampa and Fort Myers as a Category 3 storm.

The storm surge forecast for Tampa Bay has dropped from 10 feet to 8 feet. But now the predicted storm surge for Fort Myers has increased and could be as high as 12 feet.

 

Sep 27, 9:41 AM EDT
Tornado watches issued in South Florida

Tornado watches have been issued in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Naples and Key West as Hurricane Ian approaches.

The watches are in effect until 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Sep 27, 8:25 AM EDT
Latest forecast shows landfall in Tampa Bay area

The forecast has shifted significantly east, now with landfall expected in the Tampa Bay area Wednesday night into early Thursday morning as a Category 3 hurricane.

This would mark Tampa Bay’s first direct hit from a major hurricane since 1921.

Slow-moving Ian is expected to drop more than 15 inches of rain from Tampa to Orlando.

Major flooding is possible in Orlando, Tampa and St. Petersburg.

Sep 27, 5:00 AM EDT
Hurricane Ian makes landfall after strengthening to major storm

Hurricane Ian made landfall over western Cuba early on Tuesday morning, the National Hurricane Center said.

“Satellite and radar data indicate that the center of Ian has made landfall just southwest of the town of La Coloma in the Pinar Del Rio Province of Cuba at 4:30 a.m.,” the center said.

Ian’s winds at landfall were estimated at a maximum of 125 mph, making the storm a Category 3 hurricane.

Sep 26, 11:35 PM EDT
Ian strengthens as winds grow to 105 mph

Hurricane Ian continued to intensify Monday night, with maximum sustained winds now at 105 mph.

The hurricane is about 105 miles east-southeast of the western tip of Cuba, which is expected to see significant wind and storm surge impacts soon.

The storm is expected to become a major hurricane overnight or Tuesday morning.

Sep 26, 9:47 PM EDT
Tampa International Airport to close as Ian approaches

Tampa International Airport will stop all operations starting 5 p.m. Tuesday to secure its airfield and terminals ahead of Hurricane Ian's expected landfall later this week.

Sep 26, 7:14 PM EDT
HHS secretary declares public health emergency for Florida

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has declared a public health emergency for the state of Florida.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra made the declaration Monday to address the possible health impacts for Florida residents once Hurricane Ian nears the state.

"We will do all we can to assist Florida officials with responding to the health impacts of Hurricane Ian," Becerra said in a statement. "We are working closely with state, local, and tribal health authorities, as well as our federal partners, and stand ready to provide additional public health and medical support."

HHS has pre-positioned two 15-person health and medical task force teams from its National Disaster Medical System, as well as a 13-person incident management team and two pharmacists to assist with the response in Florida.

"These teams are highly trained and ready to respond if, when, and where they may be needed following the storm," HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O’Connell said.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency on Saturday. That declaration was approved by President Joe Biden on Sunday.

Sep 26, 6:59 PM EDT
Hurricane warning issued for Tampa Bay area

The National Hurricane Center has issued a hurricane warning for the Tampa Bay area just after its 5 p.m. advisory for Hurricane Ian.

The hurricane, currently a Category 2, is forecast to strengthen before it slows down as it approaches land. It is then expected to hover off the coast of Tampa from Wednesday into Thursday before making landfall.

A hurricane watch has also been issued for Big Bend, Florida, near the panhandle, and tropical storm warnings are in effect for much of southwest Florida.

Tropical storm watches are in effect for Orlando toward the northeast portion of the state, from Fort Pierce to Jacksonville.

-ABC News' Melissa Griffin

Sep 26, 6:21 PM EDT
Florida utility company to use remote grid technology to restore power during the storm

The emergency response from Florida Power & Light is “well underway” as Hurricane Ian approaches, the utility company announced Monday.

FP&L has mobilized 13,000 workers, as well as supplies, to ensure the response is conducted as safely and quickly as possible after the storm hits, according to a press release.

As the hurricane begins to bear down on the region, FP&L will use remote grid technology to restore power remotely during the storm, as long as it is safe to do so, the company said. After the storm passes and winds drop below 35 mph, FP&L will continue restoration and conduct damage assessments with field crews.

The utility company also urged customers to make preparations and take safety precautions.

"As this storm approaches Florida, we know our customers are counting on us and we are determined to meet this challenge," said Eric Silagy, chairman and CEO of FP&L in a statement. "We are mobilizing and pre-positioning our restoration workforce, so these brave men and women can quickly start working as soon as it is safe to do so."

-ABC News' Matt Foster

Sep 26, 3:58 PM EDT
Florida State University cancels classes

Florida State University has canceled classes Tuesday through Friday as Hurricane Ian approaches.

"The cancellation of classes on Tuesday is to allow students to travel safely out of the area if they so choose," the university said. "Students who choose to stay in Tallahassee will be advised via the FSU Alert system to follow a 'shelter in place' protocol during the storm."

Sep 26, 3:38 PM EDT
St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to close

The St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport will close at 1 p.m. Tuesday due to the mandatory evacuation orders in Pinellas County. The airport will stay closed until the evacuation order is lifted.

Sep 26, 2:55 PM EDT
1st mandatory evacuation orders issued

Mandatory evacuation orders are in place for coastal parts of Hillsborough County, Florida. Over 300,000 people are expected to evacuate, officials announced Monday, with emergency shelters opening at 2 p.m. Monday.

Hillsborough County could face up to 15 feet of storm surge and 30 straight hours of tropical storm force winds, Florida Emergency Management Director Tim Dudley said.

County Administrator Bonnie Wise added, “We did not make this decision easily, but the storm poses a serious threat, and we must do everything we can protect our residents.”

Some residents of Sarasota County and Manatee County are also under mandatory evacuation orders.

-ABC News’ Alex Faul

Sep 26, 2:01 PM EDT
7,000 National Guardsmen deployed to help

Five-thousand members of the Florida National Guard have been activated to help during Hurricane Ian. Another 2,000 guardsmen from Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina are also coming to help, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

Nearly 300 ambulances and support vehicles are being deployed to areas bracing for Ian’s landfall, DeSantis said.

-ABC News’ Alex Faul

Sep 26, 12:43 PM EDT
Tampa may shut down airport

In Tampa, where residents are bracing for 10 feet of dangerous storm surge, the Tampa International Airport may shut down parts of its airfield and facilities over the next day or two, airport officials announced.

The airport is in an evacuation zone, but because it’s critical infrastructure, it’s “exempt from the storm evacuation order and will stay open until a closure is necessary,” airport officials said in a statement.

It’s been 101 years since Tampa last had a direct hit from a major hurricane.

Sep 26, 11:36 AM EDT
Sarasota, Tampa-area schools close

Hillsborough County Public Schools in Tampa will be closed Monday through Thursday due to the storm. Instead, some schools will operate as storm shelters, the district said.

In Sarasota County, schools will be closed on Tuesday.

Sep 26, 11:34 AM EDT
First mandatory evacuation orders issued

Mandatory evacuation orders are in place for coastal parts of Hillsborough County, Florida. Over 300,000 people are expected to evacuate, officials announced Monday, with emergency shelters opening at 2 p.m. Monday.

Hillsborough County could face up to 15 feet of storm surge and 30 straight hours of tropical storm force winds, Florida Emergency Management Director Tim Dudley said.

County Administrator Bonnie Wise added, “We did not make this decision easily, but the storm poses a serious threat, and we must do everything we can protect our residents.”

Sep 26, 10:43 AM EDT
NASA rolling Artemis rocket back off launch pad

NASA said it will roll the Artemis I rocket off the launch pad and back to the vehicle assembly building on Monday night due to the storm.

“Managers met Monday morning and made the decision based on the latest weather predictions associated with Hurricane Ian, after additional data gathered overnight did not show improving expected conditions for the Kennedy Space Center area,” NASA said in a statement. “The decision allows time for employees to address the needs of their families and protect the integrated rocket and spacecraft system.”

Sep 26, 10:08 AM EDT
Floodwater safety tips to remember

As Ian approaches, here are a few commonsense strategies to help avoid unnecessary risk from floodwaters:

--Before flooding, look up your neighborhood's flood zone and determine if your home or business is prone to flooding. Come up with an evacuation plan and make sure your car has a full tank of gas. Stock up on non-perishable foods.

--After flooding, ensure your drinking water is sanitized and wash your hands thoroughly after contact with floodwaters. Disinfect objects that have come into contact with floodwater before offering them to children or toddlers.

--Try to avoid exposure with floodwaters for long periods of time to prevent physical injury. Wear waterproof boots if you have them. Do not attempt to drive over flooded streets as it could damage the car and strand passengers.

Click here for more.

Sep 26, 10:01 AM EDT
White House closely monitoring Ian

The White House is “closely monitoring” the hurricane, a White House official told ABC News.

President Joe Biden approved Florida’s emergency assistance request this weekend “as soon as he received it,” the official said.

“He also directed his team to surge Federal assistance to the region well before landfall,” the official said. “FEMA has already deployed staff there and pre-positioned food, water, and generators.”

Biden was scheduled to travel to Florida on Monday but that trip has been postponed due to the storm.

-ABC News’ Karen Travers

Sep 26, 8:23 AM EDT
Hurricane watch issued for Tampa, Fort Myers, Naples

Ian is expected to become major Category 3 hurricane Monday night with winds of 115 mph.

As Ian passes Cuba, it’s expected to rapidly intensify, becoming a Category 4 hurricane as it moves through the Gulf. Hurricane warnings are in effect for Cuba and the Cayman Islands.

Models are split when it comes to Ian’s landfall in Florida; impacts could be as far north as Panama City and as far south as Fort Myers.

Some models forecast landfall by Wednesday afternoon between Tampa and Fort Myers, while other models predict landfall at the end of the week near Panama City or Apalachicola.

Hurricane watches have been issued in Tampa, Fort Myers and Naples.

-ABC News’ Max Golembo

Sep 26, 5:20 AM EDT
Storm becomes Hurricane Ian

The National Hurricane Center declared Ian a hurricane on Monday, as the storm gained strength on its way toward Florida.

"A Hurricane Watch has been issued along the west coast of Florida from north of Englewood to the Anclote River, including Tampa Bay,” the center said on Monday.

- ABC News’ Max Golembo

Sep 25, 10:19 PM EDT
NASA to reconvene on whether to take Artemis rocket off launchpad

NASA hasn’t decided whether to leave its Artemis I rocket on the launchpad as it monitors Tropical Storm Ian's path toward Florida, the agency said Sunday.

The federal space agency’s mission managers will continue discussions on Monday about the next steps as its rocket was delayed again.

On Saturday, NASA scrapped its third planned launch attempt of Artemis I because of weather concerns. Artemis I was scheduled to launch on Sept. 27.

Engineers will decide if the rocket needs to roll back off the launch pad. If they do not roll it back, the next possible launch date is Sunday, Oct. 2.

Tropical Storm Ian is forecast to strengthen into a major hurricane as it nears Florida.

NASA had to scrub the first launch attempt on Aug. 29 because of a faulty temperature sensor and the second attempt on Sept. 3 due to a liquid hydrogen leak.

If the Oct. 2 launch doesn’t happen, the rocket will be taken back to the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center until the team decides on the next date.

-ABC News' Gina Sunseri, Mary Kekatos and Nadine El-Bawab

Sep 25, 10:27 PM EDT
Ian strengthens once again, forecast to become hurricane on Monday

Tropical Storm Ian has strengthened with maximum sustained winds at 60 mph and is expected to get stronger throughout the night as atmospheric conditions become more favorable for the storm.

Ian is forecast to become a hurricane on Monday, becoming even more intense likely into Tuesday.

Ian is moving to the northwest to the Northwest at 12 mph, with the center located 160 miles away from Grand Cayman.

Jamaica and the Cayman Islands are expected to experience heavy rain, a heavy surge and possible flash flooding over the next 24 hours.

-ABC News' Dan Peck

Sep 25, 5:45 PM EDT
Ian weakens slightly but will regain strength overnight

Tropical Storm Ian has weakened slightly, but it is expected to not only strengthen but rapidly intensify overnight as it travels over warm waters in the Caribbean.

As of 5 p.m. ET, the storm system had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph and was moving west-northwest at 12 mph, with the center located about 220 miles away from Grand Cayman.

Dry air ahead of the storm has delayed the strengthening trend so far. But the rapid intensification is expected to occur Monday into Tuesday as the system continues across the northwestern Caribbean and closes in on western Cuba.

Over the next 24 hours, the outer bands will impact Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, bringing rounds of heavy rain, possible flash flooding and storm surge. Later Monday and into Monday night, Ian will be closing in on western Cuba and will likely bring significant wind and storm surge impacts to the region.

A hurricane warning is in effect for Grand Cayman and portions of western Cuba. A tropical storm watch has been issued for portions of western Cuba, as well as the lower Florida Keys, including Key West.

As of 5 p.m., the forecast track was nudged slightly eastward. Overall, the forecast guidance variability and uncertainty will remain high, and the track for where the storm will be from the middle to the end of the week will continue to shift over the next 24 to 48 hours.

-ABC News' Dan Peck

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Highland Park shooting victims file lawsuits against gun-maker over advertising practices

Witthaya Prasongsin/Getty Images

(HIGHLAND PARK, Ill.) -- Victims of the July 4 shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, are filing a series of lawsuits against the manufacturer of the gun used in the shooting, accusing the company of irresponsibly and unlawfully marketing weapons in an unsafe and illegal manner, according to an attorney for one of the victims. The suspect allegedly used a rifle manufactured by Smith & Wesson to carry out the shooting.

The suits also name the former parent company of the manufacturer, American Outdoor Brands; accused shooter Robert Crimo III; and his father, Robert Crimo Jr., Ari Scharg, an attorney at Edelson, one of the firms coordinating the legal complaints, told ABC News.

Suits are being filed by families of three victims killed, at least 10 people or families of people who were injured and more than 30 people at the parade who were traumatized by the shooting, according to attorneys for the victims. They are represented by law firms including Romanucci & Blandin; Everytown Law; and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.

Some lawsuits also name online gun distributor Bud's Gun Shop and Illinois gun retailer Red Dot Arms, alleging that the retailers negligently and illegally sold the weapon to the alleged shooter in violation of the assault weapons bans in Highwood and Highland Park, Illinois, according to a joint press release from the law firms.

"Despite that Bud's Gun Shop knew that the shooter resided in Highland Park or Highwood, where it is illegal to acquire or possess an assault weapon, it sold the Rifle to the Shooter, thereby knowingly aiding and abetting the violation of the ordinances," the suit alleged.

The suit also accuses Red Dot Arms of knowingly violating the ban.

"Despite knowing that the Shooter resided in a municipality that prohibited the possession of assault weapons, Red Dot Arms transferred the Rifle to the Shooter, thereby knowingly aiding and abetting the violation of the ordinances," the lawsuit alleged.

Robert Crimo III, is facing 117 charges for allegedly killing seven people and injuring more than 30 others at an Independence Day parade in the Chicago suburb. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Elizabeth Turnipseed, a victim who was shot in the pelvis during the shooting while standing next to her husband and 3-year-old daughter, is one of the plaintiffs who filed a suit in the Circuit Court of Lake County on Wednesday.

Scharg, who is representing Turnipseed, told ABC News in an interview that his client has been in and out of the hospital since the shooting and will likely never be able to walk again without assistance. Turnipseed returned to the hospital Wednesday due to her injuries, he said.

"She woke up this morning with blinding pain from the inside of her body and is now again back in the hospital undergoing tests and scans," Scharg said.

Turnipseed still has shrapnel in her body from the shooting, which will likely remain in her body for the rest of her life, Scharg said.

The suit alleges that Turnipseed has suffered and will continue to suffer pain and anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of earnings and earning capacity and has incurred and will continue to incur substantial expenses for medical treatment, according to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by ABC News.

The lawsuit filed on Wednesday is one of about 10 suits being filed by victims of the shooting. They have not yet all been filed. While the suits are being filed separately, lawyers intend to enjoin them at a later stage, Scharg said.

The lawsuit filed by Turnipseed alleges that "Smith & Wesson has been aware since at least 2000 that its marketing practices played a role in contributing to gun crimes."

According to the lawsuit, the company negotiated a settlement that year with the federal government, saying it will not "market any firearm in a way that would make the firearm particularly appealing to juveniles or criminals' due to the foreseeable risk of such advertising fueling unlawful acts of violence by such actors."

The suit alleges that Smith & Wesson targeted “impulsive young men with hero complexes and/or militaristic delusions military complexes attracted to the particularly high lethality of ar-15 style weapons . . . to execute their fantasies.”

According to the lawsuit, Smith & Wesson's marketing was designed “to mimic the aesthetic of being the shooter in a video game” which is used in many popular video games, such as Call of Duty.

Turnipseed is alleging that Smith & Wesson is responsible for damages and injuries caused by the shooting.

Smith & Wesson, American Outdoor Brands, Bud's Gun Shop and Red Dot Arms did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

In a statement to VICE in August, Red Dot Arms owner Mike Rioux defended the sale to the alleged shooter saying the company sells legal products and he doesn't know how the suspect found the company.

"We sell firearms to law-abiding citizens upon approval from the Illinois State police," Rioux said.

Turnipseed is asking for an unspecified amount in damages from Smith & Wesson and an injunction that "prohibits Smith & Wesson from falsely representing its products as being commonly used by, endorsed by, or associated with United States military/law enforcement personnel and unfairly and unlawfully targeting youth in their marketing," according to a copy of the lawsuit.

Turnipseed is also asking for damages from the accused shooter and his father.

Robert Crimo Jr., the suspect's father, told ABC News in July he is not culpable in the shooting, saying he had spent time with his son before the shooting and was "shocked."

The lawsuit accuses the suspected shooter of assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress for the military-style assault designed to injure, maim, or kill a large number of people at the Highland Park parade.

Turnipseed is requesting damages from the accused shooter's father for negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress for allegedly facilitating his son's ability to purchase a rifle despite knowing his propensity and desire to commit mass violence.

While the suit does not specify how much Turnipseed is looking to collect in damages, damages in the jurisdiction the suit was filed in must exceed $50,000, according to Scharg.

Scharg said the medical costs Turnipseed has incurred and will continue to exceed that threshold.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Suspects identified in rapper PNB Rock's fatal shooting

LAPD

(LOS ANGELES) -- Police identified suspects on Wednesday who they say are connected to the fatal shooting of rapper PNB Rock during a Sept. 12 robbery in South Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Police Department’s South Bureau Homicide Division identified Freddie Lee Trone as a suspect and urged the public for assistance in locating Trone, who is believed to be armed and dangerous.

Police told Los Angeles ABC station KABC-TV that officers also arrested two of Trone’s family members who are believed to be connected with the murder. Shauntel Trone, 32, was booked for accessory to murder, while Freddie Lee Trone’s 17 year-old son was booked for murder, law enforcement sources told KABC. It is unclear if any of the suspects have retained attorneys at this time.

PNB Rock, whose legal name was Rakim Allen, was fatally shot during a robbery at Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles while dining with his girlfriend. According to police, a suspect demanded jewelry and other valuables from Allen and his girlfriend Stephanie Sibounheuang before getting into a struggle with the rapper and opening fire.

The Philadelphia-born rapper was a force on the East Coast and collaborated with some of the biggest artists in the hip-hop industry as an artist and a producer. He was 30 years old when he died.

Hip-hop stars from Drake and Young Thug, to Meek Mill and Nicki Minaj posted tributes to Allen on social media, with some reflecting on the violence that has continued to plague the hip-hop community.

According to social media posts, Allen's location at Roscoe's was reportedly tagged on social media in a since-deleted message. Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday that the LAPD is investigating whether the geotagged post led to the attack.

PNB Rock was an independent artist who gained popularity on the SoundCloud platform and released a number of hits that charted on the Billboard Hot 100. He was featured in XXL Magazine's Freshman Class of rappers to watch in 2017.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Hurricane Ian's path echoes destructive 2004 Hurricane Charley

ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- When he saw the latest path for Hurricane Ian, Kevin Doyle, a bar owner in Punta Gorda, Florida, said his heart sank and he had a flashback to 2004 when Hurricane Charley destroyed his business and much of his coastal town.

Ian is taking a similar path of Charley, which caused $16 billion in damage and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, killed 18 people.

"The difference with Charley was it was extremely fast and destructive and this is going to be slow and destructive. So, it's going to be worse than Charley," Doyle told ABC News Wednesday morning.

Doyle rode out Charley in his bar, the Celtic Ray Public House. This time he is taking no chances. He and his wife have evacuated to the east coast of Florida, while his son, who is a co-owner of the bar, is holding down the fort in Punta Gorda.

Hurricane Ian first made landfall in Florida on Wednesday afternoon, before making a second landfall just south of Punta Gorda as a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds estimated at 145 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Chaley made landfall in Punta Gorda on the afternoon of Aug. 13, 2004, causing a 7-foot storm surge in nearby Fort Myers.

"The building was basically destroyed," Doyle said of his bar. "Then we found out the following morning there was no insurance on it. We were renting at the time."

A 40-year resident of Punta Gorda, Doyle said he and his family decided to stay and rebuild, realizing another destructive storm could hit someday. Now that day has come.

Many of Doyle's neighbors who lost homes and businesses have rebuilt, adding new roofs designed to withstand a major hurricane. Punta Gorda has become a model for how to hurricane-proof a city, Doyle said.

Doyle said that following Charley, he bought the wrecked, roofless building that housed his bar and spent seven years rebuilding it.

"I think everybody learned their lesson from that one," Doyle said. "When we rebuilt, we went over the codes with everything. It's like a fortress now."

He said Ian will be the first big test to see how prepared Punta Gorda is to withstand what is expected to be the most devastating storm to hit the area since Charley.

"I'm not going to predict anything at all," Doyle said. "I'm just going to wait and see what's left when it all goes away."

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Search underway after vessel carrying dozens of migrants sinks amid Hurricane Ian

USCG Southeast

(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. Coast Guard is searching for over a dozen migrants after their vessel sank off the coast of Florida as Hurricane Ian was moving through the region, authorities said.

U.S. Border Patrol agents responded Wednesday to a migrant landing in Stock Island in the Florida Keys, Chief Patrol Agent Walter Slosar said on Twitter.

Four Cuban migrants had swam to shore after their vessel sank "due to inclement weather," Slosar said.

The U.S. Coast Guard began a search and rescue mission for an additional 23 people, Slosar said.

Crews have so far rescued three people in the water about 2 miles south of Boca Chica, the U.S. Coast Guard Southeast said.

"They were brought to the local hospital for symptoms of exhaustion and dehydration. Air crews are still searching," the Coast Guard said in an update on Twitter.

The rescue efforts are underway amid dangerous weather conditions from Hurricane Ian. The storm made landfall on Florida's west coast Wednesday afternoon as a major Category 4 hurricane, bringing with it powerful winds and life-threatening storm surge.

The hurricane's landfall was at about 3:05 p.m. ET near Cayo Costa, an island off the coast of Fort Myers.

The entire Florida Peninsula is under either a hurricane or tropical storm warning due to Hurricane Ian.

The storm is forecast to bring the threat of heavy rains and catastrophic storm surge as it moves through Florida.

The rescue mission comes a day after seven migrants from Cuba were taken into custody after making landfall at Pompano Beach, north of Fort Lauderdale, according to Slosar.

"Do not risk your life by attempting this journey at sea," he said on Twitter. "Storm surge along with King tide can create treacherous sea conditions even after a storm passes."

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Randy Cox, paralyzed following arrest, sues for $100M

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(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- The man who became paralyzed from the chest down while handcuffed in police custody has filed a federal lawsuit against the city of New Haven and New Haven Police Department officers for $100 million.

According to the lawsuit, Randy Cox, 36, was sitting handcuffed, but otherwise unrestrained, in the back seat of a police van on June 19 when Officer Oscar Diaz abruptly hit the brakes. Former acting police chief Regina Rush-Kittle said in June that this was an evasive maneuver to avoid an accident. Cox was thrown across the back of the van and immediately could not move his body, the lawsuit said.

Cox's family and his attorneys said the injuries sustained in the vehicle and the alleged neglect from other officers have left him unable to care for himself and leaves him with little opportunity to earn a living for the rest of his life.

"We think that there is no value that can replace the damages and the hurt and the harm and the mental anguish and the torture that he's endured every day, every hour, every minute, every second, every second of his life," attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the family, said in a news conference Tuesday afternoon announcing the lawsuit. "We did not have to file this lawsuit to tell you why the city needs to do the right thing."

Crump said at least $20-30 million is necessary to maintain Cox's "basic quality of life."

Video of the incident released by police showed Cox was handcuffed but not secured by a seatbelt in the back of a police van when a sudden stop caused him to fall headfirst into the van wall. Cox had been arrested and charged with criminal possession of a firearm and breach of peace. As of Tuesday, these charges are still active and awaiting a plea.

After he was "violently thrown" across the van, Cox shouted that he was hurt. Oscar Diaz, the officer who the suit alleges negligence; recklessness; excessive force; denial of medical treatment; and failure to provide medical assistance, said he couldn't pull over immediately, but did so two minutes later, according to the complaint. Diaz then called 911 so an ambulance could meet them at the detention center.

After arriving at the detention center, before the ambulance arrived, Diaz and other officers removed Cox from the back of the transport wagon, the suit said.

At the center, Cox "indicated several times that he could not move and he thinks he broke his neck," the suit said. Despite Cox's plea, the suit said the officers attempted to move him and "place him in a wheelchair to be processed and eventually dragged him to a cell by his shoulder while still in handcuffs."

Body camera footage shows New Haven officers dragging Cox out of the van, moving him into a wheelchair and asking him, "How much did you have to drink?" followed by statements like, "He is perfectly fine."

Cox's sister LaToya Boomer said at a press conference on Tuesday that she wonders how her brother, who was readmitted to the hospital Tuesday for bedsores, would have been progressing had he not been moved so much, or at all, after he was thrown from his seat in the van.

"We don't want any lip service, we want action," she said. Boomer called for criminal charges to be raised against officers, saying she wants those responsible for her brother's injuries to be "fired and arrested."

Doreen Coleman, Cox's mother, has taken on the role of her son's primary caregiver son after the incident. She asked officers to hold themselves accountable for their actions. "Own up to it," she said at the press conference.

The named defendants, officers Diaz, Betsy Segui, Ronald Pressley, Jocelyn Lavandier, and Luis Rivera, are currently on leave, pending the results of a state investigation into their actions, police said.

Segui declined ABC News' request for comment; Pressley, Lavandier, and Rivera have not responded. Diaz was not able to be reached.

"I'm not gonna say what those officers felt, but it seems like they thought he was intoxicated. So they weren't taking his claims as legitimate," New Haven Police Chief Karl Jacobson said in an interview with ABC News on Tuesday. "We as a police department, especially [with] someone in custody, need to take everybody's claims legitimately, and build that legitimacy with the community."

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker told ABC News that, pending the outcome of the investigation, discipline for officers could potentially include being fired. The lawsuit did not come as a surprise for Jacobson and Elicker, who have spoken with Cox's family, attorneys, and spent time with Cox.

"We are deeply committed to making sure something like this never happens again, and also to ensure that Randy gets justice. And we've implemented a lot of different policies, training in the police department to ensure that something like this doesn't happen again," Elicker said. "We'll continue to talk with our attorneys [throughout] this process."

"What happened to Randy was not right. We're doing everything possible to ensure that it doesn't happen to anyone else. And that's all we can do," Jacobson said. "We can take the next right step and I feel like we're doing that to make you know, this such a terrible situation a better situation where, you know, Randy can move on in his life and have what he needs, and we can fix the wrongs in the police department so that this doesn't happen again."

The Connecticut State Police are still investigating the incident.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Justice Department said it was closely watching the investigation into the circumstances that left Cox paralyzed.

"All suspects taken into police custody must be afforded timely and appropriate medical care in the event of an emergency," said U.S. Attorney Vanessa Roberts Avery in a statement in July. "If federal action is warranted, the Justice Department will pursue every available avenue to the full extent of the law."

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Idaho university prohibits staff from promoting, discussing abortion due to state laws: Report

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(MOSCOW, Idaho) -- The University of Idaho is prohibiting staff from promoting or providing abortion services while performing their jobs, warning they could be fired or face misdemeanor or felony convictions if they do, according to an email reportedly sent to staff on Sept. 23.

The university told staff they cannot take any action, use or provide institution funds or facilities to: promote abortion; provide or perform an abortion; counsel in favor of abortion; provide referrals for abortion; provide facilities for an abortion or for training to provide an abortion; dispense emergency contraceptives (except for cases of rape); contract with abortion providers; or advertise or promote services for abortion or for the prevention of conception, the Idaho Press reported citing an email it said it had obtained.

The university, according to the report, also advised staff not to provide standard birth control as a state law apparently makes it a felony to advertise or promote any medication or means for the "prevention of contraception." Licensed physicians and health care providers at student health centers will still be allowed to counsel on and provide birth control. The school's Counseling and Testing Center will be handling guidance for conversations about abortion that fall under doctor-patient confidentiality, according to a copy of the memo published by the Idaho Press.

The university claimed the new guidance aims to make sure it operates within the confines of state laws, according to the memo obtained by the Idaho Press.

Idaho began enforcing its trigger ban on Aug. 25, banning nearly all abortions in the state, with the exception of abortions necessary to preserve the life of the mother.

If a discussion between a staff member and a student moves to the topic of abortion, staff are instructed to tell students that Idaho law prohibits the university and its employees from counseling in favor of abortion, referring for abortion or promoting abortion,the Idaho Press reported, citing the memo it says it obtained.

Staff will be allowed to direct students to sources of information outside the university and hold classroom discussions on topics related to abortion "when limited to discussions and topics relevant to the class subject," according to the memo released by the Idaho Press.

Instructors must also remain neutral in these discussions and cannot conduct or engage in discussions in violation of state prohibitions "without risking prosecution," according to the memo released by the Idaho Press.

While academic freedom allows classroom discussions on topics related to abortion, it does not protect against violations of state laws that prohibit promoting abortion, according to the Idaho Press memo.

Staff can also provide condoms for the purpose of helping prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, but not for the purposes of birth control, the Idaho Press reported, again citing a memo it says it obtained.

The university did not offer abortion services prior to the release of this new guidance and this was "not an activity expected of university employees" prior to the new guidance, but new laws now make it a crime to do so on university time or using university resources, according to the memo.

Any university employee wishing to counsel, promote or advocate in favor of abortion is required to do so outside of the performance of their job duties and without use of any university resources, the memo said.

"This is similar to the university's policy on political activities which, while recognizing the rights of individuals to engage in political activities, requires that this be done on the employee's personal time and without any use of university resources," the memo said.

The University of Idaho did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment or verify that it sent out this memo to staff.

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Mountain lion attacks 7-year-old boy from behind in park

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(LOS ANGELES) -- A 7-year-old boy is recovering after being attacked from behind by an aggressive mountain lion while walking through a park Monday, authorities say.

The incident took place at Pico Canyon Park, located near Santa Clarita, California, in Stevenson Ranch, when authorities from the Department of Parks and Recreation in Los Angeles County say the boy was suddenly attacked and bitten by a mountain lion as he made his way through the park.

"The young boy -- about 7-year-old boy -- was walking up some stairs and was attacked from behind by a mountain lion and bitten in the buttocks," Capt. Patrick Foy from the California Fish and Wildlife Department told Los Angeles ABC station KABC-TV in an interview following the incident.

The boy suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the attack and is expected to make a full recovery, officials said. The park will now remain closed until further notice while authorities carry out their investigation.

"According to Fish and Wildlife authorities, the investigation is being carried out as if this were a confirmed attack, however, the investigation is still ongoing," said the Department of Parks and Recreation in a statement obtained by ABC News.

As part of the investigation, the boy's bite wounds were swabbed for DNA to see if they could match it to a known wild cat in the area but, so far, the mountain lion has not been found, according to KABC.

Officials tracking the mountain lion placed a trap in the closed off park to see if they could lure the animal out from hiding.

"In the trap we placed a mountain lion's favorite food, which is a deer carcass," Foy told KABC.

If the cat is found and the DNA samples match the boy's wounds, there is a good chance the mountain lion would be destroyed by authorities.

"Everything we do and every part of our mission is to better help wildlife and people coexist." Foy explained to KABC. "Having a situation like this where wild animals start attacking -- especially small children -- that is a super difficult part of our job."

In the meantime, there are plenty of local area residents who are concerned about their own safety following the sudden attack.

"You gotta understand when you are walking these trails the dangers that you are walking into. … It still terrifies me," Francisco Salas of Santa Clarita told KABC. "It could happen to me. It could happen to anybody out here."

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DOJ seizes 10 million fake fentanyl-laced pills from May to September this year

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(WASHINGTON) -- The Department of Justice seized an estimated 10 million fentanyl-laced pills, the attorney general and DEA administrator announced on Tuesday at DEA headquarters.

“Of this year, DEA agents conducted 389 investigations, including 35 cartel linked investigations in 201 cities,” Attorney General Merrick Garland told reporters. “Over the course of these investigations, we seized over 10 million fake pills and 82 pounds of fentanyl powder motor crews across all 50 states. That is enough to kill 36 million Americans. In addition agencies 338 weapons during this operation, including shotguns pistols, and hand grenades.”

Senior DOJ officials pointed the finger squarely at the Mexican drug cartels for trafficking in the pills.

"These cartels are responsible for virtually all of the fentanyl and they currently dominate the worldwide fentanyl distribution and supply chain," DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said.

Milgram said they are primarily seeing fentanyl laced pills disguised as regular drugs like OxyContin and Percocet.

One other issue they are particularly concerned about is rainbow fentanyl in particular it is "largely driven by marketing."

"The cartels are marketing rainbow colored pills. That are designed to look like candy or prescription drugs. They can come in either a tablet form, or in a block that looks like sidewalk chalk," the attorney general said. "These pills to contain fentanyl. We know from lamp testing that these rainbow fentanyl is just as dangerous and just as deadly as other forms of fentanyl."

Milgram said the cartels don't care who dies. All they care about is making money, she said.

"You know, when we talk about their treachery, what they want to do is sell more fentanyl. Fentanyl is highly addictive. And if someone takes it and they potentially can become addicted, the cartels will make more money. And if they die for the cartels, that's the cost of doing business. There are 100 million other people on Snapchat 150 million more Americans on Instagram 180 million more on Facebook. So they believe that there will always be someone else that they can sell to," she said.

There have been a series of high-profile and major drug busts during the period from May to September of this year.

In one such example this July, the DEA seized approximately one million pills laced with fentanyl allegedly linked to the Sinaloa Cartel in what authorities say was the biggest bust for the drug in California history.

“This massive seizure disrupted the flow of dangerous amounts of fentanyl into our streets and probably saved many lives,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Bill Bodner at the time of the seizure. “The deceptive marketing coupled with the ease of accessibility makes these small and seemingly innocuous pills a significant threat to the health and safety of all our communities. A staggering number of teens and young adults are unaware that they are ingesting fentanyl in these fake pills and are being poisoned.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and is a synthetic opioid that is approved for treating severe pain but can often be diverted for abuse and misuse.

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Airports closing as Hurricane Ian bears down on Florida

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(NEW YORK) -- Multiple airports in Florida have announced temporary closures as Hurricane Ian makes its way toward the state.

The hurricane is currently forecast to make landfall Wednesday afternoon as a Category 3 storm somewhere between Tampa and Fort Myers. It's expected to bring with it destructive winds, life-threatening storm surge and heavy rain.

Hurricane warnings have been issued for Tampa and Fort Myers. A tropical storm watch has also been issued for Miami and tropical storm warnings have been issued for Orlando and Jacksonville. About 2.5 million Floridians are under mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders, Florida. Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday morning.

As Florida's west coast braces for Ian, several airports have already suspended or are planning to suspend operations.

All inbound and outbound flights at Key West International Airport were canceled Tuesday due to Hurricane Ian. The airport has not yet made any announcements regarding operations for Wednesday.

St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport closed at 1 p.m. Tuesday due to mandatory evacuation orders from Pinellas County and will remain closed until the evacuation order is lifted, airport officials said.

Tampa International Airport will suspend all operations starting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday in preparation for Hurricane Ian and will "closely coordinate the reopening of the airport with its partners based on roadway safety, facility readiness, and staffing," the airport said. It anticipated a "high volume of travelers" Tuesday ahead of its closure.

Sarasota Bradenton International Airport will close starting at 8 p.m. Tuesday, with flights suspended after its last departure at 6 p.m., airport officials said.

On Wednesday, the Orlando International Airport will stop operations at 10:30 a.m., and the Melbourne Orlando International Airport said it will close at 2 p.m. "due to the increasing likelihood of tropical impacts locally."

Impacted travelers are encouraged to contact their airlines directly for updates.

Miami International Airport, one of the busiest airports in Florida, is "not in the cone of concern" and remains open, the airport said. Flights between the airport and the Cayman Islands, Cuba and central and north Florida are expected to be delayed or canceled due to Ian, local officials said.

Ahead of the storm, hundreds of flights have been canceled on Wednesday, primarily into or out of Orlando International Airport, according to FlightAware.

Several airlines are offering travel waivers for those who may be impacted by Hurricane Ian, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines. American is also adding "reduced, last minute fares" for cities that will be impacted by Hurricane Ian and waiving checked bag fees for two checked bags on flights to and from certain airports.

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Pipe bomb found behind grocery store in Colorado suburb: Police

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(DENVER) -- An active pipe bomb was found behind a grocery store in a Denver suburb Tuesday, authorities said.

Police responded around 12:30 p.m. to reports of a possible explosive device found behind a Safeway grocery store in Littleton, about 10 miles south of Denver. A contractor working at the store spotted the bomb, police said.

Responding police secured the area and determined that the device was explosive, police said. The Arapahoe County Sheriff Bomb Squad was able to deactivate it, the Littleton Police Department said. There is no threat, police said. No injuries were reported.

The pipe bomb, which was disabled by a robot, had a "broken timer" on it, the Littleton Police Department said.

The device was determined to be a functioning pipe bomb, but a fuller analysis will be conducted to learn more about it, a law enforcement source briefed on the matter told ABC News.

"It was a lot more sophisticated than we typically see," the source told ABC News.

The device has been sent off for analysis by the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office, police said.

Authorities are now asking for the public's help in finding who was responsible. Possession, use or removal of explosives or incendiary devices is a felony.

The investigation will be handled by the Littleton Police Department with assistance from the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office.

Federal law enforcement is currently not involved but is ready to assist if asked, a source told ABC News.

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5 high school football players shot, 1 dead in Philly: Police

WPVI-TV

(PHILADELPHIA) -- A 14-year-old is dead and four other high school football players were wounded after gunfire erupted behind a Philadelphia high school Tuesday afternoon, police said.

The five unidentified victims were walking off the field after a scrimmage at Roxborough High School around 4:41 p.m. when someone in a green Ford Explorer drove up to the players and began shooting, police said.

The victims were transported to Temple University Hospital and Einstein Medical Center, according to police.

The deceased 14-year-old was shot once in the chest, police said.

A 17-year-old male victim was shot in the arm and leg, a 14-year-old male victim was shot once in the thigh and a 15-year-old was shot once in the leg, according to investigators. All three are listed in stable condition.

Deputy Philly Police Commissioner John Stanford said that all the players shot were from Roxborough High School and that the shooters left the scene on foot.

There are several cameras in the area where police will pull the footage, Stanford said.

"Death is final. You don't come back from that," Stanford said when asked on what parents can say to their kids.

The police didn't immediately release information on the fifth victim.

There are no arrests and no suspects have been identified.

The high school released a statement later in the evening on its website informing parents about the situation.

"We are aware of a shooting that occurred at a football scrimmage this afternoon in Roxborough. Four students have been taken to local hospitals, and families of the four shooting victims are being contacted. Multiple Philadelphia officers are at the scene, as well as members from our Office of School Safety. We will update you as more information is available," the statement read.

ABC News' Darren J. Reynolds contributed to this report.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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Jury selection begins in Oath Keepers' Jan. 6 conspiracy trial

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(WASHINGTON) -- Jury selection is underway Tuesday in one of the most complex and crucial cases being brought by the Justice Department in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, as five members of the Oath Keepers anti-government group -- including its founder Stewart Rhodes -- stand trial on charges that they conspired together to oppose by force the lawful transition of presidential power.

The trial, which is expected to last over a month, could prove to be the toughest test yet for prosecutors in the DOJ's sprawling investigation of the Jan. 6 attack, which has so far resulted in federal charges against nearly 900 defendants.

Failing to secure convictions against Rhodes or others in the case with the rarely-brought seditious conspiracy statute, experts say, could prove to be a significant setback to the department's ongoing efforts to target alleged domestic extremist groups driven to carry out acts of violence against the government.

Rhodes, Thomas Caldwell, Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson and Jessica Watkins are among the first group of Oath Keepers to go to trial for seditious conspiracy and multiple other felony charges connected to their alleged actions surrounding the Capitol attack. Four other members of the group are scheduled to go to trial in late November.

The government has already secured three guilty pleas for seditious conspiracy from Oath Keepers Joshua James, William Todd Wilson and Brian Ulrich, all of whom admitting they joined the group with the goal of using force to stop the peaceful transfer of power from then-outgoing President Donald Trump to President Joe Biden.

The group is alleged to have stashed firearms and ammunition at hotels surrounding Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021, and used encrypted communications to coordinate their actions breaching the Capitol and seeking out lawmakers involved in the certification of Biden's election win.

Prosecutors say images they have submitted in court filings filings show members of the group, clad in tactical gear, moving through the pro-Trump mob up the Capitol steps in a military-style "stack" formation to enter the building.

Prosecutors allege that multiple members of the group remained back at a Ballston, Virginia, hotel during the attack as part of a "Quick Reaction Force" that was tasked with rapidly transporting weapons to D.C., possibly by ferrying them up the Potomac River, if they were called up by Rhodes.

While Rhodes is not alleged to have entered the Capitol building itself, prosecutors have singled him out as a lead coordinator in calling on various chapters of the group around the country to come to Washington, and calling on members to ready themselves for a potential "civil war" to keep Trump in office.

The trial, in D.C. district court, is expected to feature testimony from dozens of witnesses, with prosecutors planning to introduce thousands of private messages sent between members of the group leading up to and following the Jan. 6 attack that detail their alleged plans to keep Biden from taking office.

The federal judge overseeing the case, Amit Mehta, recently rejected a last-minute effort from Rhodes to delay the trial and replace the legal team that had represented him since his arrest in January of this year.

Mehta has similarly rejected requests from other members of the group to delay the trial, as they argued that potential public hearings or the release of an interim report by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack would serve to taint any jury impaneled in the case.

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Maryland couple pleads guilty to selling nuclear-related secrets

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(ANNAPOLIS, MD) -- Jonathan and Diana Toebbe pleaded guilty for a second time on Tuesday to federal charges that they tried to sell secrets about U.S. submarine nuclear propulsion systems to a foreign country.

The couple originally pleaded guilty in February but a judge threw out the plea agreements last month after deciding the sentences called for were too low.

The Toebbes, of Annapolis, Maryland, seemed to neighbors and co-workers to be the typical suburban couple before they were arrested last October for allegedly scheming to sell secrets about Virginia-class nuclear submarines to a foreign country, which was not identified in court papers but was Brazil, a source told ABC News.

At the time of his plea, Toebbe conceded he sent a package to a foreign government, listing a return address in Pittsburgh that contained a sample of restricted data and instructions for establishing relationship to buy additional restricted data.

Toebbe said he began corresponding with someone he thought was a representative of the foreign government who was really an undercover FBI agent.

On June 8, 2021, the undercover agent sent $10,000 in cryptocurrency to Toebbe as "good faith" payment.

A few weeks later, Jonathan and Diana Toebbe traveled to a location in West Virginia, prosecutors said. There, with Diana Toebbe acting as a lookout, Jonathan Toebbe placed an SD card concealed within half a peanut butter sandwich at a pre-arranged "dead drop" location, they said.

After retrieving the SD card, the undercover agent sent Jonathan Toebbe a $20,000 cryptocurrency payment, prosecutors said. In return, Jonathan Toebbe emailed the undercover agent a decryption key for the SD card. A review of the SD card revealed that it contained restricted data related to submarine nuclear reactors, the indictment said.

Diana Toebbe, 46, pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to communicate restricted data, conceding she "knowingly and voluntarily" joined a conspiracy with her husband, a former nuclear engineer for the U.S. Navy, to sell secrets to a foreign country, which ABC News has previously identified as Brazil.

"I acted as lookout for my husband when he serviced three dead drops," Toebbe said.

According to the charging documents, one of those dead drops included a blue 16GB SanDisk SD "wrapped in plastic and placed between two slices of bread on a half of a peanut butter sandwich."

The new plea agreement appeared to call for a sentence of about 12 years in prison, four times as long as Diana Toebbe's prior agreement. Magistrate Judge Robert Trumble accepted her plea but noted a different judge would determine whether the new sentencing terms were sufficient.

Jonathan Toebbe, 43, also pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiring to communicate restricted data pursuant to an agreement that calls for a sentence of up to 17 years in prison.

Toebbe sent a letter to the intelligence service of Brazil in April 2020 that "stated a desire to sell documents containing U.S. Navy information marked CONFIDENTIAL that included printouts, digital media files containing technical details, operations manuals, and performance reports," the charging documents said.

"I apologize for this poor translation into your language. Please forward this letter to your military intelligence agency. I believe this information will be of great value to your nation. This is not a hoax," the letter said, according to the criminal complaint.

His theft "irreparably compromised" a critical component of national defense, Judge Gina Groh said in August when she rejected the initial plea agreements.

At the hearing, Groh read an impact statement submitted by the Navy that said, in part, the "breadth and depth of Mr. Toebbe's betrayal for personal gain is extraordinary."

 

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Holiday travel plans? Check that passport first

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(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. State Department says it's already time to start thinking about your winter holiday plans, especially if they include international travel.

"Applying in the fall or winter allows for faster routine processing due to lower seasonal demand," according to a recent release from the department. "Travelers should plan ahead and apply for their passports early to avoid the stress and extra cost for expedited processing. With timely effort, applicants also avoid the need for last-minute appointments at regional passport agencies, which become increasingly difficult to obtain when demand is high."

Average wait times, however, are still longer than pre-pandemic averages.

Before March 2020, standard processing times took between five to seven weeks and two to three weeks for expedited applications. Now, the State Department says travelers can expect a wait of eight to 10 weeks for regular service and four to six weeks if they fast-track their request, which requires having a trip planned to a foreign country within 14 days and paying an extra $60 fee.

A valid passport that does not expire within six months is required for entry in most countries. The State Department currently has completed two phases of a pilot program for online renewal, with a third scheduled to open next month.

The online renewal option is expected to be accessible to most Americans beginning in early 2023.

The new program was developed as a result of an executive order issued by President Biden in late 2021 that instructed agencies to cut down on bureaucratic hurdles to access government services, reducing the "time tax" Americans pay while navigating outdated systems.

"Every interaction between the Federal Government and the public, whether it involves renewing a passport or calling for a status update on a farm loan application, should be seen as an opportunity for the Government to save an individual’s time," the order says.

While it’s still unclear whether the order will reduce total wait times for passport renewals, the online process would save applicants a trip to their local passport office or from having to print, complete and mail hard copies of their documents.

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