Florida’s island dwellers dig out from Ian’s destruction – ABC News

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ST. JAMES CITY, Fla. — Surrounded by Hurricane Ian’s destruction, many residents of one Florida island have stayed put for days without electricity or other resources while hoping the lone bridge to the mainland is repaired.

Pine Island, the largest barrier island off Florida’s Gulf Coast, has been largely cut off from the outside world. The pounding storm damaged the island’s causeway, rendering its towns only accessible by boat or aircraft.

“We feel as a community that if we leave the island — abandon it — nobody is going to take care of that problem of fixing our road in and out,” Pine Island resident Leslie Arias said as small motorboats delivered water and other necessities.

A temporary bridge to span the damaged parts of the causeway would be ready by Wednesday afternoon, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said. It will aid in restoring electricity, delivering fuel and supplies, and reopening the island’s supermarket, he said.

The governor spoke while visiting Matlacha, a community on its own small island astride the roughly 5-mile (8-kilometer) causeway. On Tuesday, an orange excavator could be seen scooping bucketfuls of earth into a gap where the island meets a cement bridge, apparently eroded by the storm. Nearby, part of a damaged building sagged into the water.

Piles of rubble and debris have replaced many of the Pine Island’s homes. Power lines and their wooden poles litter yards and roadways.

The 17-mile-long (27 km) island is bigger than Manhattan but is mostly rural and has no street lights or sandy beaches, according to the island’s civic association. It has about 9,000 year-round residents but the population doubles between Christmas and Easter.

Jay Pick, who has been on the island since May to help his in-laws, said winds from Ian blew the house’s roof off.

“We’re all safe, though,” Pick said Tuesday afternoon. “We’re blessed. Driving around seeing what some people have compared to what we have left, you get that survivor-guilt thing. I’m trying not to. I’m trying to be happy for what we do have left.”

A week after the Category 4 storm hit, the full breadth of its destruction across southwest Florida is still coming into focus. Utility workers pushed to restore power Wednesday, as crews searched for anyone still trapped inside flooded or damaged homes,

The number of storm-related deaths has risen to at least 84 in recent days. At least 75 people were killed in Florida, five in North Carolina, three in Cuba and one in Virginia since Ian made landfall on …….

Source: https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/floridas-island-dwellers-digging-ians-destruction-91039604

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