A causeway that was badly damaged by Hurricane Ian partially reopened Wednesday with temporary repairs.
The three-mile road, which connects Sanibel Island to the Florida mainland, was pummeled by the Category 4 storm’s 155 mph winds and 12-foot storm surge that killed more than 100 people in the state when it made landfall on Sept. 28.
Damage to the causeway forced responders to conduct search-and-rescue efforts by helicopter and boat.
Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office said 100 crews worked 36,000 work hours to reopen the road quickly, and the state department of transportation said permanent repair work would continue. The causeway had been scheduled to reopen Oct. 21.
“I think it’s great for the residents here to be able to get back,” DeSantis said at a press conference announcing the road was open again.
“When you have real significant damage like that, you can’t let it toil for months without attention, we needed to get people back on the island,” he added.
Earlier this week, Sanibel Mayor Holly Smith cautioned that life would not immediately return to normal on the island.
“We still don’t have electricity. We still don’t have water. We don’t have sewer or power. So to think that you can come and live here as you normally did before is really a topic I want people to be very cautious of,” Smith said.
The causeway will only be accessible to essential personnel, like repair and utility workers and emergency responders, on Mondays and Tuesdays.
A curfew remains in effect with civilian vehicle, bicycle and foot traffic on the causeway not allowed between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
With News Wire Services