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Hurricane Ian destroys parts of the Sanibel Causeway, necessitating rebuilds : NPR


In this aerial photo taken in the aftermath of Thursday’s Hurricane Ian, sections of the Sanibel Highway are washed away along with sections of the bridge.

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In this aerial photo taken in the aftermath of Thursday’s Hurricane Ian, sections of the Sanibel Highway are washed away along with sections of the bridge.

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Hurricane Ian destroyed parts of the Sanibel Causeway, a series of bridges connecting Florida with Sanibel Island – where about 6,500 people and located just south of where the storm made landfall.

Officials have determined the extent of the damage beyond simple repairs.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis confirmed at Thursday morning briefing that the Sanibel Causeway is one of at least two bridges (along with the one connecting Pine Island) that are “impassable” and will “require structural reconstruction.”

He said Friday that the three-mile causeway “has broken in parts of it.”

“It’s not a place for water and pylons, they’re very well kept,” he said at one Friday morning briefing. “That’s where you have some on the sand, and it’s been washed away from below.”

Houses in Sanibel, Fla., damaged by the storm. The island is home to about 6,500 people all year round.

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Houses in Sanibel, Fla., damaged by the storm. The island is home to about 6,500 people all year round.

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Lee County ordered people on the island evacuated before the storm made landfall, although not everyone did. Mayor Sanibel Holly Smith say Thursday that the occupants of about 200 homes had stayed, and authorities confirmed two injured and 12 dead on board the Sanibel.

It seems the other residents are actually stuck on the island, or because they refuse to evacuate by rescue teams or because they are not responsible.

DeSantis say same day that an unknown number of people were safely removed from the island, and rescue efforts by the US Coast Guard, local law enforcement, and state teams are underway. out. The Coast Guard shared a photo of crews transporting people from the flooded areas of the island.

Officials are operating barges to transport heavier supplies and equipment to the island (while first responders travel lighter and via air), DeSantis said Friday.

blacksmith requested barge service for short-term recovery, as well as “possibly in the long term to access the island due to the condition of the causeway.”

Smith is calling for residents provide authorities with the names and addresses of any loved ones who may still be on the island, saying that “our first priority is to get those stranded to safety” and explain to those Missing person.

No electricity customers on Sanibel Island had power at 11 a.m. ET Friday morning update from the Lee County Electric Cooperative.

A jarring image of a broken causeway with fast traffic

The Sanibel Causeway Bridge collapsed in several places as Hurricane Ian passed southwest Florida.

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The Sanibel Causeway Bridge collapsed in several places as Hurricane Ian passed southwest Florida.

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

At least three sections of the causeway were washed away by high tides, CNN affiliate WBBH and report WPLGcut the islands of Sanibel and Captiva from the rest of the state.

Damage to the causeway was first reported in the early hours of Thursday morning by local journalists who share pictures of the bridge with missing pieces.

Among them are Tampa Bay Times reporter Zachary Sampson and photojournalist Douglas Clifford, who ventured out of their Fort Myers hotel room in the early hours of Thursday morning to inspect the damage and release eyewitness accounts on the Times website.

In a dispatch at 2 a.m. ET, they reported that the half mile leading to the Sanibel Causeway was impassable.

Hurricane Ian brought high winds, high tides and rain to the area on Wednesday.

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Hurricane Ian brought high winds, high tides and rain to the area on Wednesday.

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They wrote: “The pavement is folded like an accordion, torn into ribbons by the strong tide.” “Nearby, a spiral staircase was placed in a broom next to a white pickup truck. The storm tore up a boat trailer and other debris.”

They described seeing sheets of sand strewn across the pavement and observing at around 1:30 a.m. when two vehicles attempted unsuccessfully to approach the island. They added that one of the young men was trying to approach a friend.

At 4:15 a.m., journalists confirmed that a section of the causeway had been obliterated by the storm:

“An alarm goes off incessantly at the Sanibel Expressway toll station. Step right off it, and the road will soon give way. Where the bridge rises from the mainland towards the island, one of the sections the first part of the span is gone. Ruined pavement lies near the water’s edge. The rest of the bridge stretches forward, inaccessible.”

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