Florida causeway back intact weeks after Hurricane Ian

Hurricane Ian

SANIBEL ISLAND, Fla. (NewsNation) — Roughly three weeks after Hurricane Ian, hard-hit Sanibel Island is still only accessible by rescue helicopter or boat.

The one bridge to the island was partly washed away in the hurricane. But in a matter of days, people who live there could be seen driving over the Sanibel Causeway for the first time in weeks.

Now, officials on the island are warning of anticipated long lines — and what people may see, or not see, when they finally make it home.

“I can tell you that the first day is going to have a long line,” said Sanibel City Manager Dana Souza. “You’ve seen the photos, it looks very different because of all the damage, obviously.”

Last week, a one-time convoy of trucks and supplies made their way over a temporary repair of the bridge to Sanibel, the first time since the Category 4 hurricane.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday praised the speedy repair process.

“You see a lot of damage, but as someone who was here a few weeks ago, you’re also seeing a lot of progress,” he said.

Across southwest Florida, cleanup from Hurricane Ian is still very much underway.

On Fort Myers Beach, people who live there are only allowed access to the island a few days out of the week, and more than a dozen counties still remain under a boil notice.

The state’s infrastructure wasn’t the only industry damaged.

Agriculture losses in Florida from the high winds and drenching rains of the hurricane could reach $1.56 billion, with citrus, cattle, vegetable and melon operations among the hardest hit, the University of Florida reported Tuesday in a preliminary estimate.

The school’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences said there could be many impacts that are yet to emerge from flooded acreage and depend in part on whether some damaged crops can be replanted to salvage some of the winter vegetable growing season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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