Florida woman describes evacuating twice to escape Hurricane Ian's Florida landfall

After the track shifted, placing Hurricane Ian’s landfall closer to Fort Myers, Peg Phillips packed up again and evacuated for a second time at 4 a.m. Wednesday back to Clearwater.

CLEARWATER, Fla. – More than 2 million people in the Sunshine State were under mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders early last week days before Hurricane Ian's arrival on the Gulf Coast. For some, that meant multiple moves to dodge Ian's Category 4 landfall.

Peg Phillips, with the National Safe Boating Council, said she didn't wait to act ahead of Hurricane Ian's forecasted landfall in Southwest Florida. 

Initially forecast to make landfall in the Tampa Bay region, Peg Phillips left her home in Clearwater and headed about 1 hour south to Fort Myers Beach.

After the track shifted again, placing Hurricane Ian's landfall closer to Fort Myers, Phillips packed up again and evacuated for a second time at 4 a.m. Wednesday, back to Clearwater. It was the right decision. 

Hurricane Ian would make landfall near Cayo Costa, Florida, Wednesday afternoon just east of Fort Myers as a Category 4 storm with winds of 150 mph. Ian brought a catastrophic storm surge of over 12 feet in some areas and a rising death toll that may take weeks to confirm the final total.

"I've lived in these coastal communities for nearly 50 years, and I've never seen an impact from storm surge and the flooding that we're seeing now," Phillips said. "It's really shocking for people in these counties that have been hard hit, Collier, Lee and Charlotte counties."

Phillips said the sadness in Southwest Florida of all who has been lost is just now setting in. 

Power crews are working to restore power and communication to Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties, but a full recovery could take months.