TAMPA, Fla. – The Tampa area, which initially was concerned about receiving a direct hit from Ian, was spared the worst of the storm as the Category 4 hurricane made landfall in southwest Florida Wednesday, but the area still experienced strong wind gusts and rain all through the night.
A Local 10 News crew has been there all week and reported Thursday morning that there were downed power lines and trees.
Nearly 500,000 customers are without power across Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
Local 10′s crew lost power at their hotel, but luckily there were generators.
Tampa’s neighbors just south of them got the brunt of Ian’s impact and the damage is unbelievable.
Ian tore through Florida, making landfall just after 3 p.m. Wednesday near Cayo Costa as a Category 4 storm.
Winds clocked in over 150 mph, lashing the coast.
Fierce winds took out power lines in Naples and a time lapse video shows the water rising, flooding streets in a matter of minutes in Sanibel Island. The island is experiencing significant storm surge from Ian.
In Fort Myers, people were seen wading through rising water, leaving their flooded homes behind.
In Tampa Bay, the water is not rising, but is receding instead.
“Don’t go out there. It’s so dangerous to be out there,” National Weather Service Director Ken Graham said. “So even if you see the water receding, it’s not the time to go out there and look at it.”
Across the city, Tampa police warned residents to stay off the streets as a streetlight took a dangerous tumble.
“This one was a big one,” Tampa resident Deirdre Bailey said. “The winds were crazy. (I) haven’t seen anything like that before.”
Downed trees were seen on top of homes and debris and fallen power lines fill the roadways.
“We got so lucky the fact that the hurricane turned the way it did,” Bailey said. “If it was a direct hit, we would have been underwater.”
The Florida Disaster Fund to support Florida’s communities impacted by Hurricane Ian has been activated.
To contribute, please visit www.FloridaDisasterFund.org or text DISASTER to 20222.
CLICK HERE to download Local 10′s Hurricane Survival Guide.
Visit Local10.com’s hurricane page for the latest updates on this storm. To receive daily morning briefings on the tropics, sign up for the Talking Tropics newsletter.