NORTH PORT, Fla. (WFLA) – Hurricane Ian is long-gone in Sarasota County, but many residents are still feelings its impacts. Aside from the extensive wind damage, loss of power and spotty cell service, residents in North Port are dealing with rising flood waters days after the storm.
Alongside regional partners, city officials spent countless hours Friday performing high-water rescues in the city’s most flood prone communities. We are told hundreds have been rescued and brought to dry ground.
City Manager Jerome Fletcher believes there could still be thousands in need of help.
“We have 80,000 people in our city in various places. We have been just hurt and hammered in so many areas. There are many streets that are flooded so there’s no way now to know exactly that number, but we do believe it is a significant number of people who need to be rescued or service by the city. I would believe we are talking about thousands of people at this point,” said Fletcher.
Sumter Boulevard looked unrecognizable, resembling a river more than a roadway Friday. Instead of trucks and cars, it was airboats, kayaks and canoes filling the roadway as rescues continued throughout the day. The ramp into the city was blocked off to drivers due to the flooding near the interstate.
“I’ve been here for eight years and this is crazy. I’ve never seen it this bad,” said resident Kalib Karr.
His vehicle ended up getting flooded out Thursday night.
“Stay off the roads. Do not go out. I would not go out. We were going out trying to look for gas and trying to look for anything to drink. We wish we would’ve just stayed home, it is crazy outside,” said Karr.
The excessive rain from Hurricane Ian overloaded the Myakkahatchee Creek, similar to what the city saw in July 2021 with Hurricane Elsa. However, officials say this time around is far worse.
“For the city of North Port and south county, this is very unprecedented,” said Fletcher.
City officials continue monitoring water levels. Fletcher says they’re expected to peak sometime this weekend.
In the meantime, the city of North Port remains under a curfew that is in effect between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.
“We just want residents to know that we know where you are and we care where you are and if you will be patient, we will get to you. If you can get out safely and get to somewhere else, that is fine, but do not take any unnecessary risk. We want you to make sure that you take care of your life first and foremost. We will handle the rebuilding of everything else, we cannot rebuild you, so we need you to stay safe,” said the city manager.