Fort Myers, Sanibel Island recover after Hurricane Ian

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(NewsNation) — Most days it’s hard for Fort Myers Beach Mayor Dan Allers to even stomach what his community is going through.

“To say I’m proud would be a gross understatement,” Allers said,” “The estimates they’re saying for Fort Myers Beach alone are 2.5 million cubic yards of debris.” It’s been months, and still there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.

The town is taking it in strides. Erickson & Jensen Seafood owner Joel Andrews says “Everything has to be put together. Boats, docks fuel facilities, supply houses.”

Jesse Clapham, a manager at Erickson & Jensen Seafood, is working to get another shrimp boat back in the water.

“Everyday a couple more people leave because we’re all working out of pocket just to save what we can,” Clapham said.

Sanibel Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Officer John Lai said that the way they build back is by “taking the best of what we had and incorporating what we know we need to incorporate in the future to make this more resilient and more sustainable.”

Sanibel Island Mayor Holly Smith said, “It’s really hard,” and it’s the small victories that are making a big difference.

“We are seeing our community come back in a different way every day,” Smith said.
 
With 70% of its power restored, Sanibel now has a working hotel and grocery store. But the mayor knows all of this comes at a cost.

“We are looking at the debris cleanup alone on our little 17-mile island, it could be between $80 and $100 million for the debris cleanup alone,” Smith added.

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