Here are updates on where things stand in Lakeland in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. Since many readers still don’t have Internet and are relying on spotty cell service, we are keeping it text-only and will share to all who have signed up for our email newsletters.

Ian steered farther east of Lakeland than expected, sparing us the devastation experienced in southwest Florida. Still, there were plenty of downed trees and damaged roofs. Polk experienced no tornadoes, deaths or serious injuries, according to the county's emergency management department. Roughly 3,000 people were in the county’s storm shelters Thursday morning out of a capacity of more than 12,000

Electricity restoration

Nearly half of Lakeland Electric’s 137,000 customers lost power during Ian. As of 9 a.m. today, 27,000 were still lacking power. The utility estimates service will be restored to all customers in three to four days. Check Lakeland Electric’s outage map.

Roughly 200 linemen and other crew members have come in from out-of-state power companies to help. Report downed poles, downed wires and tree limbs on wires to 863-834-9535.


Polk County’s public schools and Lakeland’s colleges and universities remain closed Friday and working toward reopening on Monday. However, Polk Schools Superintendent Frederick Heid said on Friday that he has still not decided whether schools will open Monday because many still have no power. Get updates on Polk public schools.


  • Publix supermarkets in Lakeland reopened on Friday. Check hours here.
  • Walmart stores in Lakeland are still closed, according to a company map.
  • Target lists its local stores as open.
  • The Downtown Lakeland Farmers Curb Market will be closed on Saturday.
  • Many local stores and restaurants have re-opened but a lot are still closed; some restaurants suggest bringing cash because their internet-controlled payment systems are still offline. Before heading out to a store or restaurant, check its website or social media for updates.

Garbage collection

City of Lakeland is running Thursday’s residential automated garbage routes on Friday and Friday routes on Saturday. Rear-loading trucks will collect only bags and containerized yard trash on Friday and Saturday. Claw and roll-off trucks will collect debris on Sunday. Regular residential service resumes on Monday, and claw trucks will continue collecting debris. Details

Polk County residents with debris-related questions can call a hotline for information: (800) 375-0844.

Food pantries

Feeding Tampa Bay has opened a mega food distribution site at Lakes Church, 1010 E. Memorial Blvd. It is open 2 to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Check more food pantries.

FEMA assistance

Polk has been added to the counties eligible for FEMA assistance, Bay News 9 reports. Individual/household assistance may include temporary housing assistance, basic home repairs and certain other uninsured disaster-related needs. FEMA advises contacting insurance first since it won’t pay for items that insurance covers. Then apply for disaster assistance at , by calling 800-621-3362 from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET, or by using the FEMA mobile app .


GasBuddy has activated a fuel tracker that gives updated reports on which stations do and do not have gasoline. Check Lakeland stations.

Public transportation

The Citrus Connection resumed service Friday on a limited schedule that starts later in the day and ends earlier. Most routes end by 3:15 or 3:30. Check the post-Ian schedule. Fixed-route service on Saturday will operate on a normal Saturday schedule. The Squeeze downtown shuttle will not operate Friday night but will resume normal operations on Saturday.

Volunteering, Donating

People wanting to help with Polk’s hurricane recovery efforts can fill out a Volunteer Polk application:

The United Way of West Central Florida and Givewell Community Foundation have activated a Hurricane Ian relief fund. To contribute, go to and use the dropdown to select United Community Relief Fund - Hurricane Ian Relief.

SEND CORRECTIONS, questions, feedback or news tips: [email protected]

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

Join the Conversation


  1. With so many people without power they obviously lost the food in there refrigerators. Why is FEMA not giving aid for this? I’m on a fixed income and it will take a lot of money that I do not have to replace this food. Could you check on this please?

  2. Will fema have help for replacing the loss of food I'm on social security and I have to pay my bills first so it will be difficult to pay for food

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