‘You cannot survive,’ NBC News journalist says of Naples storm surge

Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 3:15 PM EDT
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Overwhelming and ferocious storm surge from Hurricane Ian is swamping Southwest Florida streets and cars under several feet of floodwater on Wednesday.

In the upscale coastal community of Naples, police have issued a curfew until further notice, warning people to stay off the roads.

"You cannot survive if you try and drive in this kind of weather," NBC News correspondent Ali Velshi said during a live report Wednesday afternoon.

Standing on the second floor of beachfront property, Velshi witnessed waves of fast-moving water surging onto the street below, burying cars under at least five feet of water, leaving only their roofs visible.

Seconds later, boats that broke loose from their moorings could be seen floating down the street.

"All around us, everywhere I look, anything that is not built into the ground, at this point, and not in a foundation is loosening up and floating away," Velshi said.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, water levels in Naples are more than 6 feet above the normal high tide.

Velshi said Urban Search and Rescue teams are stationed in Naples, but because the flooding is so severe, no emergency vehicles can get around to respond to emergencies.

"At this point, we are now in a situation where nobody is moving, nobody is doing anything," Velshi said. "Everything is shut down for now. There's nobody out there."

Just blocks south in the fishing community of Tin City in Naples, resident Erik Mogelvang captured dramatic video of downed power lines sparking a fire in the middle of a deserted intersection.

According to FPL, more than 159,000 people are without power in Collier County and another 260,000 are powerless in neighboring Lee County.

Naples Fire Rescue posted a video on Instagram showing the bay of its station near downtown Naples flooded with several feet of water.

"We're asking you to find the highest point in your home and stay there," a firefighter said in the video. "Please do not drive on the roads. It's not safe."

“Boats and cars floating everywhere,” WFLX viewer Alex Lore said of flooding and storm surge on Vanderbilt Beach in North Naples.

In nearby Marco Island, police are warning people not to leave their homes, saying all roads and bridges are impassable.

Hurricane Ian made landfall near Cayo Costa in Southwest Florida around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday as a Category 4 storm, packing maximum sustained winds of 150 miles per hour, just shy of Category 5 strength.

“It’s not going to let up anytime soon,” WFLX First Alert Weather chief meteorologist Steve Weagle said. “So that water level should climb in those cities, towns in Southwest Florida.”

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