Looting, other crimes amid former Hurricane Ian drive officials to enforce a curfew
The full extent of damage from former Hurricane Ian is still unknown. Officials from Lee County plan to dispatch crews once dangerous weather conditions subside.
Visit the FOX Weather Wire for live updates on Ian. Click here for the latest forecast, power outages and more.
Officials from Lee County, where Ian made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane, announced a curfew on Wednesday.
Officials noted during a press conference that they are also coordinating plans to help residents and will dispatch first responders as soon as possible.
Lee County, which includes cities such as Fort Myers and Cape Coral, saw devastating impacts from the now tropical storm forecast to make a third landfall in the Southeast later this week.
About two hours after landfall, Fort Myers reached 5.8 feet storm surge breaking the previous record set by Hurricane Gabrielle in 2001 at 3.36 feet. Wind gusts of more than 100 mph were reported ahead of landfall in Cape Coral.
Extent of damages
"I am sad to tell you that we don't know the full extent of the damage to Lee County right now – we are beginning to get a sense that our community has been, in some respects, decimated," said Lee County Manager Roger Dejarlais.
According to Dejarlais, about 75% of Lee County Electric Cooperative customers and about 80% of Florida Power and Light customers are without power.
More than 2 million residents in the state of Florida were without power as of Wednesday night.
Curfew until further notice
Amid the chaos of Hurricane Ian, looting and other crimes have been committed in Lee County.
In coordination with Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno, County Commission, city managers and city councils, Dejarlais announced a 6 p.m. curfew for Lee County, which will be in place until further notice.
"To be sure, and I feel safe relaying this in on behalf of law enforcement, there's going to be a zero-tolerance policy for looting and violence in this town," Dejarlais said.
No fatalities have been reported at the time of the presser.
Lee County officials are receiving and tracking 9-1-1 calls from residents, such as those stranded by high water and storm surge, said Lee County public safety director Ben Abes.
"Please know that we are with you," said Lee County public safety director Ben Abes. "We are all part of our community. Our loved ones are here. Our homes are here, and we are here and we are going to get through this together."
The calls are being categorized and prioritized with plans to dispatch first responders as soon as the hurricane passes the area and when it is safe for them to be sent out.
"Just want to emphasize, we understand there are people waiting for us, but we can't put anyone else in harm's way, and we have to wait for the conditions to improve," said Kevin Ruane, District 1 Commissioner in Lee County.
Dejarlais noted that Lee County has 14 shelters open. As of Wednesday night, about 4,000 people were in the shelters, which can house 40,000 people.
He encouraged Floridians to drive to those shelters only when the roads were clear and safe to drive.