Sanibel and Captiva islands reduce off from Florida mainland after Ian’s ‘biblical’ storm washes away three sections of Sanibel Causeway

(CNN) – A minimum of three sections of the Sanibel Causeway had been swept away by Hurricane Ian’s storm surge, in line with a video by CNN affiliate WBBH and WPLGchopping Sanibel and Captiva Islands’ solely connection to the Florida mainland.

Footage from the embankment reveals it washed away two sections of the ramps for each bridges, in addition to a piece of roadway that crossed the island in the course of the embankment.

A portion of the Sanibel Causeway bridge “was broken/washed out,” Lt. Gregory S. Bueno of the Florida Freeway Patrol’s Public Affairs Division instructed CNN. All lanes of the bridge are at present closed and the severity of the closure is listed as “main”, in line with Florida 511.

“Sanibel is devastated,” Gov. Ron DeSantis mentioned at a information convention Thursday afternoon, including that the world was hit by a “biblical storm surge.”

“It washed away the roads, it took away buildings that weren’t new and will stand up to that,” he mentioned, including that many individuals had been evacuated, however that some folks had been taken safely off the island. Air operations are persevering with, the governor mentioned, as the world is inaccessible by land.

The levee will likely be rebuilt, DeSantis mentioned. “Nevertheless it’s not one thing that is going to occur in a single day.”

Police and Lee County Division of Transportation personnel are on scene on the levee, officers mentioned it mentioned in an replace Thursday morning, and bridge inspectors labored to evaluate all bridges in Lee County. Residents are suggested to remain off the roads “until completely obligatory”.

The county, which incorporates Fort Myers along with Sanibel and Captiva Islands and Cape Coral, suffered “catastrophic harm” from the storm, officers mentioned of their replace, noting that 98 p.c of the county was with out energy.

City search and rescue groups from native companies are “actively concerned in search and rescue efforts,” together with deployed federal search and rescue groups. In the meantime, 15 shelters opened earlier than the storm’s arrival stay open.

Requested if rescues had been made on Sanibel Island, Rear Admiral Brendan McPherson, commander of the US Coast Guard’s Seventh District, mentioned the Coast Guard was “going to the world and we’re trying.”

“In some instances, we discovered individuals who had been protected they usually refused us and did not want any rescue,” McPherson instructed CNN. “However in different instances, we’re definitely that space.”

It’s estimated at 6,400 folks he lived within the metropolis of Sanibel as of April 2021 in line with the US Census Bureau. The islands are dwelling to quite a few inns and resorts, as their seashores appeal to a big variety of vacationers yearly.

In 2017, the Metropolis of Sanibel measured the annual causeway bridge visitors at over 3 million autos.

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