Florida Airports Shake Off Ian's Aftermath

 - September 29, 2022, 11:12 AM
In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Naples Airport is working to clear its debris-covered runway and taxiways and remove any water from its fuel farm. The airport was expected to be open to helicopter rescue operations early this afternoon. (Photo: Naples Airport Authority)

Since Hurricane Ian came ashore in Florida yesterday afternoon, it has left a trail of destruction in its wake as it churned across the state. The then-Category 4 storm, which made landfall near Punta Gorda, caused massive flooding and power outages for millions of residents, as well as possible scores of fatalities.

The reports from area airports are slowly trickling in. Naples Airport, which was inundated with flood water overnight, is now largely drained and has power. While the airport-operated FBO did not take any water, airport director Chris Rozansky noted the same could not be said for numerous hangars and other buildings on the field. Staffers, some of whose own homes were flooded, are working to restore the fuel farm, which received several feet of water. “Our chief objective is to get the airport ready for emergency relief helicopter flights today in order to be a lifeline for the community in this time of great need,” Rozansky told AIN, adding he has no indication of when civilian fixed-wing activity might resume.

Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers is open but restricted to humanitarian aid operations. The airport is a hub of rescue helicopter activity and Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to land there today during a damage-assessment trip.

According to Florida-based FBO operator Sheltair, Lakeland Linder International Airport will reopen at 2 p.m. today, while St. Pete-Clearwater International and Orlando International airports will resume operations at 6 a.m. tomorrow. Tampa International Airport will follow suit at 10 am. Other airports are expected to give status updates throughout the day.