The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have issued an official statement confirming their decision to keep Sunday's (September 29) game at Raymond James Stadium.
"Our thoughts and prayers remain with the many thousands in the Southwest Florida region who have been severely impacted by Hurricane Ian," the team announced on its official website. "We are also very thankful that the Tampa Bay area was spared the most damaging consequences of this powerful storm. We have informed the NFL, after consulting with local and state agencies, that we are ready to play Sunday night's game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Raymond James Stadium as originally scheduled."
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor is vowing to keep Sunday's game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium, despite the devastation brought on by Hurricane Ian this week.
"We're doing our best to keep the Buccaneers game here Sunday," Castor tweeted on Thursday along with a picture of herself holding a Buccaneers flag. "I have assured the @NFL that the only disturbance here Sunday is when the Bucs kick a**."
The mayor also confirmed that recovery efforts were beginning in Tampa Thursday morning as "crews are going out in full force to clear debris and keep our city safe."
Castor's tweet follows reports that the league would've considered U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis as a possible replacement site for the game. The Buccaneers moved their practices to the Miami Dolphins' facility earlier this week ahead of Hurricane Ian making its way through Tampa.
Ian was downgraded to a tropical storm Thursday morning as it continues to move through Florida, leaving a path of devastation throughout the state.
More than 2.5 million customers were reported to be without power Thursday morning at around 8:30 a.m. local time, according to PowerOutage.us.
President Joe Biden declared a major disaster in Florida after Ian made landfall on Wednesday (September 28) afternoon and ordered federal aid to help in state and local recovery efforts in areas directly affected, the White House confirmed in a statement obtained by NBC News.
Ian made landfall near Cayo Costa as a Category 4 hurricane with winds reaching up to 150 MPH, making it one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded in Florida, according to NBC News forecasters.
Ian has since weakened to a tropical storm with sustained winds at around 65 MPH on Thursday when it was reported to be about 55 miles southwest of Cape Canaveral before 5:00 a.m., according to the National Hurricane Center.
Lee County Mayor Roger Desjarlais said the county, which includes Cayo Costa, Fort Myers, and Cape Coral, has been left with extensive damage in the aftermath of the hurricane.
Rescue crews were forced to wait until conditions improved before attempting to provide aid to victims stranded in high water, NBC News reports.
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said vehicles were reported to be "floating out into the ocean," but officials were unable to respond and investigate until winds fell to less than 45 MPH.
“Those that are in need: We want to get to you, and we will get to you as soon as possible," Marceno said in a video address shortly before 8 p.m. via NBC News.