One road is apparently "folded up like an accordion."
Hurricane Ian hit Florida's Gulf Coast as a Category 4 storm yesterday, ripping through the region with sustained winds as high as 115 miles per hour and a storm surge so extreme that, like a tsunami, it drained the water from Tampa Bay's shores as it gathered power.
While the damage is still being assessed, the portrait of Ian's destruction is already striking. Millions of homes and businesses are flooded and without power, and the hurricane was so powerful that it reportedly left the bridge that connects the Lee County's Sanibel and Captiva Islands — barrier islands off the Fort Meyers coast that are usually home to several thousands of Floridians — in pieces.
Those islands, along with a few others, are now only accessible by boat — a logistical nightmare for rescue and clean-up operations, not to mention any evacuated residents wanting to return home.
Off the Grid
The Miami Herald reports that a major chunk of that bridge, the Sanibel Causeway, was completely torn away, while the mainland road that feeds into it is currently "folded up like an accordion." The causeway to Pine Island, another barrier island in the area, is also impassible.
"Lee and Charlotte [counties] are basically off the grid at this point," Florida Governor Ron DeSantis reportedly said during a Thursday press briefing, adding according to the Miami Herald that it's still unclear how many people might still be on the impacted islands. Per The Fort Meyers News-Press, federal rescue assistance will be dispatched as soon as possible, but when that will be is unfortunately still fuzzy.
"We are aware of a number of calls from people stranded due to high water," the Lee County Public Safety Director Ben Abes told the Fort Meyers News-Press. "However, we are faced with conditions that make it impossible to respond right now."
Though the worst of the storm itself is over, the extent of its toll is only beginning.
"This is going to be a very difficult, trying time for the next several months," Lee County manager Roger Desjarlais told the Fort Meyers News-Press. "The response and recovery effort is going to be complex, it is going to be costly and it is going to require very concentrated efforts by federal state and local government agencies and the private sector."
READ MORE: Hurricane Ian leaves trail of misery with its long, slow trip through Southwest Florida [Fort Meyers News-Press]
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