Florida declares State of Emergency, SWFL prepares ahead of potential ‘major hurricane’

Writer: Melissa Montoya
Published: Updated:

Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a State of Emergency as Hurricane Ian churns in the Caribbean.

While Florida remains within the cone, there is still uncertainty about where a future hurricane could make landfall.

DeSantis’ State of Emergency covers 24 counties within the potential span of Hurricane Ian.

In Southwest Florida, Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hendry and Lee are now under a State of Emergency.

“This storm has the potential to strengthen into a major hurricane and we encourage all Floridians to make their preparations. We are coordinating with all state and local government partners to track potential impacts of this storm,” DeSantis said.

By declaring a state of emergency, the governor’s office said its ensuring that state and local governments have ample time, resources and flexibility to prepare.

The Florida Attorney General has activated the price gouging hotline ahead of the storm.

In areas covered by the state of emergency, Floridians can report instances of severe price increases on essential commodities needed to prepare for the storm, according to a press release from the Attorney General’s Office.

Florida’s price gouging number.

The price gouging law only applies to commodities and services essential to preparing or recovering from a storm within the areas of a declared state emergency.

The phone number is 1-866-966-7226.

In Southwest Florida, governments continue monitoring the depression’s movement.

Lee County

Lee County said it is closely monitoring Hurricane Ian. Part of the county is now under a hurricane warning.

The county said it will make decisions regarding activation levels based on the forecast, but at the moment, there is no local emergency declared as of Friday afternoon.

Lee County residents can sign up for AlertLee and download the Lee Prepares App to keep up to date. Hurricane preparedness tips from Lee County can be found here.

Lee County said the Department of Transportation maintains drainage ditches year-round, but the public should expect minor intersection and road flooding with heavy rainfall.

Lee County said staff is observing lower water levels in the drainage system since last weekend when heavy rainfall moved through the area.

The School District of Lee County said all after-school activities and athletics have been canceled for Monday, and the district has made the decision to close schools and District offices and suspend all before and after-school programs and extra-curricular activities on Tuesday, September 27 and Wednesday, September 28.

Cape Coral charter schools are also closed for the next two days. Parents will be updated Wednesday afternoon about the rest of the week, according to the superintendent for the charter schools.

Matlacha and Pine Island Fire Control District has sand and sandbags. The sandbags are located at 5700 Pine Island Rd., Bokeelia, FL 33922. The sandbags are limited to 25 per resident and it is self-serve. You are encouraged to bring your own shovels, but some shovels will be available.

MORE: WINK News Hurricane Central

Residents are encouraged to check for debris and obstructions around their properties, including culverts and neighborhood ditches.

In order to assist residents who are prepping their homes and yards in advance of tropical weather, Lee County Solid Waste is extending its Saturday hours at four sites.

Instead of the usual closing time of noon, these sites will remain open until 4 p.m. Saturday:

  • Resource Recovery Facility, 10500 Buckingham Road, Fort Myers 3390
  • Lee/Hendry Regional Solid Waste Disposal Facility, 5500 Church Road, Felda 33930
  • LaBelle Transfer Station, 1280 Forestry Division Road LaBelle 33935
  • Clewiston Transfer Station, 1350 S. Olympia St., Clewiston 33440

Fort Myers Beach

Meanwhile, on Fort Myers Beach, the fire department said the Town of Fort Myers Beach has sand and bags available behind Town Hall.

They ask that you bring a shovel.

Town Hall is located at 2525 Estero Blvd.

Residents of Fort Myers Beach can also subscribe to the Town’s CodeRed Notification System, which is used for emergencies.


Sanibel is advising residents, property owners, business owners, property managers, and essential personnel to get a hurricane pass.

To assist persons who still need to obtain a Hurricane Reentry Pass, the Sanibel Police Department will extend its public opening hours to issue Hurricane Reentry Passes on Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Passes will also be issued during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Applications are available here.

Collier County

The Collier County Board of County Commissioners has declared a State of Emergency for the county. The county says it has not issued evacuation orders, and the Bureau of Emergency Services has not opened any storm shelters or special needs shelters at this time.

The Naples Police Department is fervently hoping Hurricane Ian turns out to be nothing, but they “have all learned that these types of storm systems can develop into a dangerous storm just as quickly as they can fizzle,” the department posted to Twitter.

The message is better to be prepared. It’s time to refresh those hurricane kits.

MORE: How to prepare a hurricane kit

Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk met with the incident management team on Friday morning to review the forecast and initiate storm preparations.

“We need you to do your part, too,” the Collier County Sheriff’s Office said. “This includes paying close attention to the forecasts and preparing as appropriate for your family, your property and your pets.”

Collier County public schools will be closed through Thursday.

Monday is already a day off for students as it’s a “Professional Development Day.”

You can sign up for notifications from the City of Naples here.

Charlotte County

Charlotte County Emergency Management said it is monitoring the storm, which means they are ready to operate the Emergency Operations Center if needed. Part of the county is now under a hurricane warning.

The Punta Gorda Airport said its staff is working to secure the airport ahead of any potential storm impacts.

The airport’s runways will remain open as long as conditions are safe.

The Punta Gorda Airport said it is not responsible for reminding passengers of flight changes, but they should check their emails.

The City of Punta Gorda is also offering free sandbags and sand at Hounds on Henry on Sept. 25 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

In preparation for Hurricane Ian, schools will be canceled on Tuesday as well as any student activities scheduled Tuesday.

Charlotte County mini-transfer facilities and the landfill will operate on normal schedules on Tuesday. Curbside collection will occur as scheduled. On Wednesday, mini-transfer facilities and the landfill will be closed. Curbside collection will not occur Wednesday. Curbside collection will resume Thursday for Wednesday pick-ups, Friday for Thursday pick-ups and Saturday for Friday pick-ups.

DeSoto County

According to DeSoto County Public Information Officer Sara Walker, the county is following standard operating procedures for hurricane preparation.

“As far as drainage, DeSoto County’s Road & Bridge Department’s director has been assessing drainage areas today with vegetation and will be taking care of problem areas today and prior to the storm,” Walker said.

The DeSoto County School District will close Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to prepare for the potential impacts of Hurricane Ian.

Sarasota County

The City of North Port declared a local state of emergency Monday in preparation for possible impacts from Hurricane Ian as it strengthens in the Gulf of Mexico.

There will be no waste collection in North Port on Wednesday or Thursday. All collections for the remainder of the week will be pushed back two days (Wednesday’s collection will now be Friday, Thursday will be Saturday, and Friday will be Sunday).

Glades County

Glades County public schools will be closed Wednesday and Thursday.

This story will be updated with any closures or updates from local governments. 

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