LEE COUNTY, Fla. — While Hurricane Ian powered through the southwest Florida region, those who chose to ride out the storm in areas that were under mandatory evacuation are now thinking twice about that decision.
“I should’ve left. I shouldn’t have stayed," one man who rode out the storm on Pine Island said.
Others wonder if there was enough time to leave and if mandatory evacuations were put in place soon enough.
"We were not in the cone. These storms are very unpredictable and people have to listen," Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said.
Marceno said he is standing by the orders his leaders made when it comes to evacuations, which began Tuesday morning for barrier islands and low-lying areas, including all of Zone A and parts of Zone B.
According to the 11 a.m. advisory from Monday, Sept. 26, by the National Hurricane Center, there was a possibility of a life-threatening storm surge from Fort Myers to the Tampa Bay region.
But the actual threat is within certain numbers that emergency managers are focused on.
At 5 a.m. Monday, Sept. 26, storm surge of 5 to 8 feet was possible from the Anclote River to Englewood and 4 to 7 feet from Englewood to Bonita Beach, which is in Lee County.
By 5 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27, storm surge was still estimated at 4 to 7 feet from Englewood to Bonita Beach.
And by 8 a.m. the same day, evacuations were put in place because storm surge from the Anclote river to Bonita beach was estimated at 5 to 10 feet.
At 5 p.m. Tuesday, the storm surge probability had increased to 6 to 9 feet from Bonita beach to Chokoloskee, and by 8 a.m. the next day, just hours before Ian made landfall, storm surge numbers for that area had gone up to 12 to 16 feet.
"Mother nature taught us a lesson, it's unpredictable," Marceno said.