Sanibel Causeway Reopened to Drivers After It Was Washed Away by Hurricane Ian

by Chris Haney
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Hurricane Ian’s path of destruction in Florida left many areas decimated in late September, including Sanibel Island. Sanibel Causeway, which connects the island to the mainland, took major damage in the storms. In fact, sections of the series of bridges were washed away so local officials had to shut it down. Now, after more than three weeks of closures, the causeway has reopened to drivers following the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.

The tropical storm touched down in the Fort Myers region on September 28th. The Category 4 hurricane caused winds to reach upward of 150 mph. The dangerously strong winds pushed ashore several feet of water from the Gulf of Mexico. That meant barrier islands, like Sanibel Island, got overrun by ocean waters.

Following the damage to Sanibel Causeway, the series of bridges were not drivable. Only boats and helicopters could navigate from the mainland to the island, and vice versa. The ruined causeway also complicated officials’ rescue efforts in the area as well. But temporary causeway repairs did allow recovery efforts to begin.

Utility and supply trucks were able to make it to Sanibel Island as of last week. Ever since, workers have been able to begin repairs to the island’s crippled infrastructure. Further, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday that drivers could use the bridge for the first time since Hurricane Ian passed through the state. For now, the bridge repairs are still temporary. But DeSantis shared that the state is working with Lee County on permanent repairs to the bridge.

“Today, I’m happy to report that starting at 11 a.m., the causeway will be reopened for the citizens,” DeSantis said at a news conference.

“These repairs, while temporary, are really going to help get the residents of this island back on track,” DeSantis added.

Officials Warn Floridians of ‘Flesh-Eating’ Bacteria in Aftermath of Hurricane Ian

In other recent Hurricane Ian news as Florida continues to deal with the aftermath of the storms, officials are warning residents and visitors of another potential threat. The storms themselves might be long gone after killing more than 100 people in the state. However, as residents rebuild their areas, they’re also having to be cautious of flesh-eating bacteria.

Florida officials are now warning people about a potentially deadly microbe. The flesh-eating bacteria has infected 29 people so far and took the lives of four as of this weekend. Vibrio vulnificus, the scientific name for the bacteria, lives in warm, salty waters, and spreads when areas become flooded. The bacteria can be transmitted into the body through open wounds, according to the Lee County department of public health. If infected, the bacteria can cause skin problems, ulcers, and death in certain cases.

“The Florida Department of Health in Lee County is seeing an odd increase in cases of Vibrio vulnificus infections as a result of exposure to the flood waters and standing waters following Hurricane Ian,” a county health department official said on Monday.

The statement warned people to “always be aware of the potential risks associated when exposing open wounds, cuts, or scratches on the skin to warm, brackish, or salt water.”

“Sewage spills, like those caused by Hurricane Ian, may increase bacteria levels,” the statement continued. “As the post-storm situation evolves, individuals should take precautions against infection and illness caused by Vibrio vulnificus.”