Sanibel Causeway: Bridge linking two Florida islands and mainland washed away by Hurricane Ian


At least three sections of the Sanibel Causeway were swept away by Hurricane Ian’s storm surge, cutting off Sanibel and Captiva Island’s only connection to mainland Florida, according to video from CNN affiliates WBBH and WPLG. .

Video from the causeway shows the two-part disaster where two bridges were washed away, as well as a section of road that cuts across the island in the middle of the causeway.

Lt. Gregory S. Bueno of the Florida Highway Patrol Public Affairs told CNN that part of the Sanibel Causeway Bridge was “damaged/washed out.” According to Florida 511, all lanes of the bridge are currently closed, and the severity of the closure is listed as “critical.”

“Sanibel is devastating,” the governor said. Ron DeSantis told a news conference Thursday afternoon, adding that the area was hit by a “biblical storm surge.”

“It washed away roads and washed away structures that were not new and could bear,” he said, adding that while many evacuated, some had left the island safely. The governor said air operations are continuing because the area is inaccessible by ground.

DeSantis said the causeway will be rebuilt. “But it’s not going to happen overnight.”

Florida Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer late Thursday that rescue teams were being transported by helicopter to the islands, where There they go door-to-door to check on residents. Patronis added that the Florida National Guard is assisting with these shipments.

Law enforcement officers and personnel from the Lee County Department of Transportation were also on scene at the causeway, and bridge inspectors were evaluating all of Lee County’s bridges, officials said Thursday morning. Residents were advised not to hit the road “unless absolutely necessary”.

The county, which includes Fort Myers, Sanibel and Captivity Islands, and Cape Coral, suffered “catastrophic damage” from the storm, officials said in the update, noting that 98 percent of the county remains without power.

City search and rescue personnel from local agencies are “actively participating in search and rescue efforts” and a federal search and rescue team is deployed. Meanwhile, 15 shelters that were open before the storm’s arrival remain open.

Asked if rescues had been carried out on Sanibel Island, Rear Admiral Brendan Kefferson, commander of the 7th U.S. Coat Guard Division, said the Coast Guard “has been in that area and we’re looking.”

“In some cases, we found people who were safe and they waved at us and they didn’t need any rescue,” McPherson told CNN. “But in other cases, we’re definitely looking at that area.”

As of April 2021, an estimated 6,400 people lived in Sanibel, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The islands are home to many hotels and resorts, as their beaches attract large numbers of tourists every year.

According to the City of Sanibel in 2017, bridge traffic on the Causeway exceeds 3 million vehicles annually.

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