Over Two Million Without Electricity as Ian Causes Major Damage to Florida's Power Grid

Florida Gov Ron DeSantis warned that people should anticipate more power outages in central and northeastern Florida on Thursday morning, September 29, as storm Ian left more than two million customers without power.

DeSantis said that by early Thursday morning, there had been 2.02 million reported power outages, including 1.5 million outages in seven southwest Florida counties.

DeSantis said that crews were en route to Lee and Charlotte to reconnect the counties’ power supplies. “Lee and Charlotte are basically off the grid at this point,” he said. “It’s going to be more than just connecting a power line back to a pole.”

Searches for more medical personnel were underway as hospitals were without power overnight on Thursday, according to local news.

Ian made landfall in Florida as a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 150 mph, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. Credit: Governor Ron DeSantis via Storyful

Video transcript

RON DESANTIS: In total, there's 28 large, mostly Chinooks and Blackhawks, helicopters between the National Guard and Coast Guard that are already performing these active rescue missions. And there will be more air assets brought in as the day goes on. We've also been working with hospitals overnight who've been on generator power. We're in the process of evacuating two health care facilities to safer locations north. We're also surging more medical personnel into the area.

As of 6:00 AM this morning, we have 2.02 million reported power outages. But outside of Southwest Florida, we may have additional outages from Central and Northeast Florida impacts, and people should anticipate that. If you look, there's 1.5 million outages in seven Southwest Florida counties. Lee and Charlotte are basically off the grid at this point. Sarasota has a quarter of a million without power. Hillsborough, 222,000. Pinellas, 150,000. Manatee, 129,000.

The Charlotte and Lee reconnects are really going to likely have to be rebuilding of that infrastructure. And so there are linemen, there are crews that are on their way down right now. But that's going to be more than just connecting a power line back to a pole.

The other counties likely are not going to require the extent of the structural rebuild. But of course, that's going to be assessed as the day goes on. But we do have huge amounts of resources that are en route and are going to work to get people's power on as quickly as possible.

We've also had interruptions in communications as a result of the storm, particularly in Southwest Florida. We have a hundred portable cell towers being deployed into the area. And those will be put up once it's fully safe to do so.