Hurricane-ravaged Sanibel Island ‘is cut off from the world right now’ – WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports

(CNN) — An older couple who rode out Hurricane Ian of their house on Sanibel Island in Florida couldn’t agree on evacuating after elements of the causeway to the mainland have been destroyed.

“We’re going. We’re going,” the unidentified man informed his companion as she appeared down from the house’s higher porch.

“But where?” she requested.

Fort Myers, she was informed by the man and members of a rescue mission who arrived by boat.

“The bridge is down.”

“I’m not ready to go,” she stated Thursday, staying behind.

Ian has left at the least two individuals useless on the barrier island on the Gulf of Mexico, and volunteers from Louisiana’s Cajun Navy and different rescue teams have been out on boats checking on the roughly 200 households that didn’t evacuate.

“When Americans are in trouble in bad spots — usually we do war zones and conflict zones, but Hurricane Ian qualifies,” saidBryan Stern, a former army intelligence officer extra accustomed with working in locations like Ukraine and Afghanistan.

Stern isco-founder of Project Dynamo, a bunch of veterans who find at-risk Americans in battle zones and transport them to security. Its title comes from the operation that evacuated Allied troopers throughout World War II from the seashores of Dunkirk in France.

“Now here we are. We’re going to rescue some people off Sanibel, which is cut off from the world right now,” he stated. “So it’s very apropos.”

‘This is true carnage’

Ian ripped away a number of elements of the causeway that was the island’s solely entry to Florida’s mainland. On Thursday evening, dozens of individuals remained stranded, in keeping with Sanibel Mayor Holly Smith.

At least 5 sections of the Sanibel Causeway — which connects Sanibel and Captiva islands to the mainland — have been washed away by the storm, Lee County officers stated.

Twelve individuals have been rescued off Sanibel Island with accidents and about 40 individuals have been rescued with out accidents, the mayor informed CNN on Thursday. Sanibel City Manager Dana Souza reported the two fatalities.

When requested if the metropolis is presently livable, the mayor stated, “Frankly, no.”

Many seashore cottages that lined the shores of Sanibel Island have been wiped away by Ian’s storm surge, new aerial imagery from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration exhibits. Most houses seem to have sustained roof injury, together with injury from the storm surge and flooding.

“The destruction is unbelievable,” Stern informed CNN. “This is true carnage. It’s a war zone.”

Nancy and Robert Sharon have been amongst the individuals Stern’s outfit and volunteers from the Cajun Navy rescued on Thursday.

“I heard they weren’t going to do anything after the bridge closed down but my granddaughters are in Ohio and she was crying hysterical when I talked to her,” Nancy Sharon stated.

Her grandchildren contacted the Cajun Navy and Project Dynamo and begged them to test for proof of life.

Some rescue groups have been transported by helicopter to the islands, the place they went door-to-door checking on residents, in keeping with Florida State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis. Florida’s National Guard was aiding in the efforts, Patronis added.

An estimated 6,400 individuals lived in the City of Sanibel as of April 2021, per the US Census Bureau. The islands are house to plenty of lodges and resorts, as their seashores draw a big quantity of vacationers every year.

A 2017 City of Sanibel depend measured annual bridge site visitors over the causeway at over 3 million automobiles.

Search and rescue operations proceed

Lee County officers have been assessing injury and likewise conducting search and rescue operations, Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais stated Thursday.

Federal city search and rescue groups have been deployed from throughout the nation.

All 15 shelters in the county that opened previous to the storm’s arrival remained open, Desjarlais stated. Roughly 4,000 individuals took shelter by late Wednesday.

“Given the amount of damage in the community, I think it’s reasonable to expect that those shelters will begin to fill up a little more. We have space for about 40,000 people,” the county supervisor added.

A boil water order was in place countywide, he stated. Bridge inspections have been additionally underway throughout the county. Officials hope all bridges can be inspected by Friday, Desjarlais stated.

There was additionally “extensive damage to the buildings” on Sanibel Island, he stated.

“I can tell you that in all these years I have not seen damage to Lee County from a storm like this. When you take a look at the barrier islands, particularly from the air, it’s very clear to see where the storm came onshore,” Desjarlais stated.

‘Biblical storm surge’

Sanibel was devastated, Gov. Ron DeSantis informed reporters Thursday, including the space was hit with a “biblical storm surge.”

“It washed away roads, it washed away structures that were not new and could withstand that,” he stated.

The causeway can be rebuilt, DeSantis stated. “But that’s not something that will happen overnight.”

Residents have been urged to remain inside to keep away from accidents and to permit first responders to evaluate the injury, Lee County officers stated Thursday.

Smith, the mayor of Sanibel, deliberate to fly out to the island Friday. She informed CNN’s John Berman that she was seeing some pictures of the injury for the first time on CNN and “it’s pretty emotional for me.”

DeSantis stated messages continued to come back in from households involved about family members. But lots of these stranded on the island are waving and thanking rescuers for coming however staying put for now, he stated.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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