watching. good night! ♪ this is "nightline." >> tonight, direct hit. hurricane ian slams into southwest florida. making landfall as a category 4 monster. >> this is a really, really significant storm. it will be one of the storms people always remember. >> winds whipping at 150 miles per hour. ripping off roofs. sparking power lines. a catastrophic storm surge leaving entire communities underwater. >> there goes my car, floating away. >> our team on the ground at the moment of impact. >> hurricane ian now making landfall and the wind is just ripping!
>> our ears are popping, we are in the eye wall of hurricane ian -- plus stay or go? with more than 2 million residents ordered to evacuate, the decision some made to ride out the storm. >> i think we're actually going to be in the eye of a hurricane, which i actually think is somewhat cool and somewhat terrifying at the same time. plus the first responders committed to help no matter what. >> we've got generators, we are fully staffed, we've got plenty of supplies and food. >> and the disastrous path that still lies ahead. >> our community has been in some respects, decimated. king c. gillette is a complete lineup of tools and facial hair care products. this is the style master. designed to style your stubble in one stroke, a pivoting metal head that defines every edge, and three comb lengths for added versatility. one tool that helps you choose, change, and master your style. king c. gillette ♪♪ it's macy's vip sale... with an extra 30% off top designer looks.
♪ good evening. i'm stephanie ramos. we begin with the wrath of hurricane ian, the strongest september hurricane to strike the gulf coast in more than 15 years. the extent of the damage in florida is not fully known, but the storm is no doubt destructive. and it's not done yet. we begin with abc's senior meteorologist rob marciano in st. petersburg. >> hey, stephanie. what a day. and what a night. this storm continues to bring wind and rain. it's blowing sideways in sheets. it's been doing that all day. it's been actually pushing the water out from tampa bay to the gulf of mexico. we've seen a reverse surge.
that's been a saving grace for tampa. but this wind is going to keep up through the overnight periods that we're right in that realm of damaging winds through at least tomorrow morning. and this has been a historic storm. take a look at this. as far as some of the wind gusts, over 130 miles an hour in some spots. punta gorda, port charlotte, naples over 110 miles per hour. this is truly impressive. and i'm sorry to say, devastating when we wake up tomorrow morning and see some of the damage. we're going to continue to hear horrific stories over the next couple of days and see the damage and what these people are going to have to do to rebuild in the months and years to come. stephanie? >> our thanks to rob. ian will continue to cut a path across central florida tonight, putting some who evacuated inland at risk. here's abc's janai norman in orlando. >> reporter: stephanie, we're waiting here in orlando for the
brunt of the storm. and you have to think about this. so many people who fled southwest florida came here inland towards orlando, hoping to get away from hurricane ian. now that storm will meet them here, so they will be hunkering down and really preparing to ride out the storm here for at least the next 24 hours. it could be even longer than that before they're able to safely leave, especially before they're able to get back home at all. i was talking to some of them here in our hotel. many of them with pets. all of them with belongings they brought from their homes where they thought they were escaping hurricane ian. ear in orlando, local officials tell me the biggest concerns will be flooding and wind damage. they've lowered the levels of area lakes ahead of that anticipated rainfall, picked up garbage to try to make sure that there's as little debris as possible that could become projectiles. and those very strong winds that they're expecting, they are thinking we'll likely have downed power lines and trees. we'll watch for all of that as the storm moves through central florida. >> our thanks to janai.
we have been tracking ian as it cut across the caribbean and turned into the gulf. it was clear the storm would pack a significant punch. while the alarm was sounded and preparations were made, there was no stopping the moment of impact. >> 155-mile-an-hour winds are incredibly dangerous. there will be debris in the air and flooding powerful enough to move cars around. please do not be outside during this storm. >> reporter: with its eye dead set on the sunshine state, hurricane ian spent most of the day ravaging its way through the florida peninsula. >> this is a really, really significant storm. it will be one of the storms people always remember. >> reporter: in the heart of the storm, entire buildings swept away. homes torn apart. families trapped by floodwaters. ft. myers beach in sanibel devastated. >> we are beginning to get a sense that our community has been, in some respects, decimated. >> reporter: this map showing
how much of this area has been flooded by storm surge with the hurricane still raging. 2.5 million under evacuation orders across the state. st. petersburg and sarasota among the cities taking the brunt of ian's wrath. winds hitting as high as 150 miles per hour when it made landfall. ripping roofs off of houses. storm surge overtaking coastlines. washing away anything in its path. roaring onshore as a category 4 hurricane, the strongest september hurricane to hit the gulf coast in 17 years. landfall coming after hours of intense wind. my colleague, ginger zee, in fort myers in the eye of the storm. >> our ears are popping. we are in the eye wall of hurricane ian. i want you to see the surge. the winds have come onshore. there was a pool, it is covered. the little house at the end of the dock is about to go, that water so powerful.
>> reporter: then about a half hour later -- >> we're about an hour into the onshore winds and all this surge taking over the pool. remember that little blue house we were watching? it is gone. just the roof remains. >> what you need to be doing right now is getting away from walls and windows. treat this like a tornado warning. >> reporter: families trapped by the storm surge. >> you're on the second floor already? >> yeah. >> our affiliate, wzvn, facetiming with a group in fort myers beach. >> about 15 feet of water now. >> there's 15 feet of water and it's still coming in? >> yeah, still a steady rise. the waves keep pushing it through the windowsills. >> reporter: accuweather capturing the eye wall piling water onto pine island as the storm moved onshore. up to 18 feet of storm surge expected in some areas. ahead of landfall, the storm pulling the water out of tampa bay. christopher barcea has lived in naples for years. recording this video as the water creeps up.
>> the house is halfway under water. there goes my car, floating away. >> reporter: hurricane hunters flying into ian. >> holy cow! >> reporter: knocked around by extreme turbulence. >> oh! >> reporter: still, some choosing to ride out the fearsome storm. >> we woke up around 6:00 a.m. it was really kind of a nice morning. just a breeze here and there. ever since, every hour or so gets more intense. >> reporter: just outside sarasota, mike and jill donnelly prepare to hunker down for ian's ferocious onslaught. >> gusts? all right, we're thinking maybe 90 miles an hour. you never anticipate yourself being in the eye of a hurricane, but i think we'll actually be in the eye of a hurricane. which i think is somewhat cool and somewhat terrifying at the same time. >> part of the reason i think we feel so comfortable as well is we've been watching all of the updates from the emergency services. ad they talked about having an
unbelievable amount of people ready to come out and rescue. they've got people in boats, the coast guard, people in helicopters. >> reporter: first responders across the state also committed to staying. >> we've got generators, we're fully staffed, we have plenty of supplies and food. communications are up. we feel completely supported. >> reporter: sarasota memorial hospital preparing for the worst. >> well, everybody is always appropriately nervous. i think we would be silly not to be a little bit anxious. but at the same time, we also feel very confident. >> reporter: and ready for the long haul. >> so right now, all ems is shut down. we're not getting new patients in to the e.r. we know there are going to be a lot of people hurt and in need after the storm passes. >> doing great, glad we were
here to take care of her. >> these are really the heroes of everything. these people have left their families, left their homes, and rushed over here to take care of patients. they get locked down into the hospital for three to five days, depending how long the storm is. to do nothing but take care of this community, take care of our patients. >> reporter: and even in the chaos, some hope. >> we've delivered one baby. she came in last night. we did a c-section on her this morning and everybody is happy anlemsr complications at all. >> reporter: for kevin doyle, the storm brings him back to 2004. >> we were watching our roof flying off. watching the windows vibrate. then just get sucked out in one piece, with the frame, and go right across the street. just smashed there on the curb on the other side of the street. we were hiding in the bathroom. >> reporter: hurricane charley leveled his hometown, punta gorda, destroyed his irish pub. back then, he decided to stay
and face the storm. >> looked like a bomb had detonated the whole town. we couldn't recognize anything in any direction. you would not know what street you were on. traffic lights, street signs, everything was gone. rubble everywhere. >> this time he evacuated, riding out the storm in a hotel on the east coast of the state. >> yes, the main thing going through my mind is, thank god we didn't stay this time. because you only need to go through one category 4 hurricane. >> reporter: kevin's son and co-owner of the family business did stay behind. as ian continues to barrel through florida, he's worried. >> they've got a solid house, my son and his wife and two children, 6 and 7. last time we spoke, they were in a closet. big closet. >> reporter: kevin is bracing to see the damage done to his bar this time.
>> we expect it to be flooded when we get back. we've been through a hundred floods there. >> reporter: when he had to rebuild after hurricane charley, he and the town rebuilt with climate change in mind. >> this town is a model. what every town should do after a hurricane. everything was rebuilt really solid with a view of, we're going to get another one any time. >> reporter: while ian has weakened from the category 4 storm it began as, its rampage will continue through florida overnight. more than 2 million are now without power. and communities across the state are preparing for the devastation left in its wake. >> at a minimum, it's going to be a very strong category 4 that's going to rank as one of the top five hurricanes to ever hit the florida peninsula. so that damage is ongoing. it's very, very important. but the fact is, there's going to be damage throughout the whole state. and people in other parts of the state, be prepared for some impacts.
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geography at louisiana state university. and sherry mckinney, spokesperson for the american red cross. thank you both. i want to start with you, jill. meteorologists noted the rapid intensification of hurricane ian before it trouble the florida coast earlier today. what are some of the factors that contributed to hurricane ian getting so big so quickly? >> one of the reasons why a storm can intensify that quickly is related to the amount of available heat in the ocean as it's passing over a landscape. so ian passed through the western caribbean, where there was a lot of the additional moisture in the atmosphere and heat in the upper ocean. it was able to take that environment and really ramp up the intensity internally. and then the storm passed over cuba with very little land interaction and didn't internally damage or structurally damage that hurricane at all. and in fact, then passed it over additional warm water in the gulf stream, which just makes
that intensity ramp up even quicker. >> so jill, it's possible that a warming climate could have contributed to ian's rapid formation and intensity? >> so what i like to think of is instead of an individual storm, think of it more as changes throughout the season. so part of that rapid intensification signature in ian is also related to some of the other rapid intensification we've seen in previous seasons not terribly far away from today. i think really it's that change in the consistency of storms that rapidly intensify and that we're seeing more of them happen as we move into the future. so not necessarily more storms, but more intense storms. >> given scientific proof of a rapidly warming climate, do you think we can expect larger and more destructive storms going forward? >> so i think there's two things. you can think about hurricanes as intensity and also as frequency. places that aren't used to experiencing hurricanes, because maybe the water is too cold, think off the coast of new york or new jersey -- those are areas that might see more storms, even if they're not extremely
intense. they might be intense for those that live there because they're not used to historically experiencing these storms. if you think about places like the gulf of mexico where we are very, unfortunately, frequented by these storms, they happen all the time, we won't necessarily see more. but it is likely that we i would see the ones that do form reach that maximum intensity, get faster, get more intense in a faster way. because they have that extra heat signature. so although it's a little bit different between that intensity and frequency, it is changing throughout the basin. just not the same everywhere. >> and sherry, i want to turn to you. the red cross has played such a vital role over the years before and after storms. tell us a little bit about the red cross' efforts to evacuate floridians ahead of time. how many residents were you able to get to safety? and are there any challenges in moving that many people? >> well, you know, the southeastern caribbean division of the american red cross began prepping for this hurricane
season back in april and may with anticipation that we could see a storm of this size. and what we were able to do is, along with government officials, open about 200 shelters that are evacuation shelters. that's just getting folks out of the way of harm from the hurricane and from the winds. and we were able to help open those up last night. we have 13,000 people who took advantage of these evacuation shelters. and i'm sure the number is going to grow tonight as the storm begins to move across florida. >> and sherry, i'm sure the residents there are so thankful for the volunteers that are sticking it out with them. there are estimates that hurricane ian couldened up costing billions of dollars of potential damage to the florida coast. can you break down for us what floridians will need in the next few days and in the next few weeks and months to come? >> sure. this is going to be a very, very long response for all organizations that provide
relief following a disaster. with winds as high as 155 miles per hour and water up to 12 to 18 feet above sea level, we are definitely seeing destruction. so we're going to have people who are homeless here in florida. we're going to have transportation that's affected because roadways will be washed out. this is definitely a storm that folks will tell their grandchildren about. it's 100 miles wide is what i last heard. so we are expecting to see a significant expense as far as the red cross is concerned, you know. we come in and we are here to serve that immediate need of people in the state, make sure that folks are taken care of during their darkest hours. and also be able to hand them off to the next organization that's going to get them on that very long road of recovery. and so, yes, estimates are
probably very clear, into the billions, of what we will be serving people as far as estimates are concerned. >> it's difficult to watch. sherry, thank you for your time and sticking it out there with the residents there in florida. please stay safe. jill, thank you for your time as well and for your insights. thank yu both. >> thank you. >> thank you. when we come back, the sudden passing of the artist behind one of rap's all-time anthems. this isn't charmin!
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coolio died today at a friend's home in los angeles. born artist leon ivey jr., he became a breakout hip-hop star in the 1990s with hits like "fantastic voyage." ♪ and "gangsta's paradise." ♪ gangster's paradise ♪ >> for which he won a grammy. coolio was 59. that is "nightline." you can watch all our full episodes on hulu. we'll see you right back here at the same time tomorrow. thanks for staying up with us. good night, america. life is busy. so, come to shell and get three things done at once. first, fill up with shell v-power nitro+ to help keep your engine running like new. nice! then save up with the fuel rewards program and never pay full price for gas again. oh wow! and, finally, snack up to save even more at the pump. that's great! make the most of the stop you need to make with shell.