Hurricane Ian pummels Fort Myers: First look at devastating Sanibel causeway damage

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said he was "devastated" by the damage that Hurricane Ian left on his county. He surveilled the damage on a helicopter tour Thursday and shared a montage of video clips that appeared to show homes on fire, damaged homes and debris scattered about, and the Sanibel Causeway collapsed.

"We are devastated. Our hearts go out to every resident who is impacted. The Lee County Sheriff's Office is mobile and will stop at nothing to help our residents," the Lee County Sheriff's Office said in a Facebook post.

The video also showed sand scattered along the roadways, but most noticeable was the collapse of the Sanibel Causeway, which connects Sanibel Island with Punta Rassa, and to Fort Myers.


Governor Ron DeSantis said Thursday that the causeway would likely have to be rebuilt. Hundreds of thousands are without power across the state, and utilities across the state were working to survey damage and restore power.

Hurricane Ian made landfall in the southwestern part of Florida Wednesday afternoon as a Category 4 hurricane and pummeled Fort Myers, Naples, and Lee County. It downgraded to a category 1 hurricane as it approached the Orlando metro – still dangerous and damaging – and downgraded again to a tropical storm.

Still, Central Florida showed roads damaged, roads flooded, and people needing to be rescued by first responders. Officials pleaded with people to stay home and not drive on the roads unless they absolutely needed to.

While away from Orlando, Ian is expected to strengthen into a hurricane, and impact parts of Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas, including flooding, storm surge, and strong winds.