The Category 4 storm destroyed parts of the Sanibel Causeway, the only way on and off the island. Rescues over the weekend are still happening only by boat or helicopter.
Not far from Sanibel are other hard hit barrier islands like Matlacha, also cut off because of washed away roads and bridges. Some houses were even swallowed up by the storm surge.
Doug and Melissa Hoover’s home on Matlacha is gone, like it was never even there to begin with.
“We thought at least if the house was hurt, we’d still have our seawall. We’d still have the pool. We could rebuild. We weren’t expecting most of our land to be gone too,” Melissa Hoover said.
The small island community is home to about 800 people, many of whom are now homeless with much of the island demolished or still underwater.
Kathleen Meyerson’s home she has owned for the last two decades is still standing, but it is covered in thick mud from several feet of flooding.
“The devastation coming here by boat by the water is so much worse than anyone can see from an aerial view, so that was really devastating,” Meyerson said.
We met Melissa Kalbacher as she was grabbing the last things from her home, headed off the demolished island.
“Hopefully they’ll be able to rebuild. I mean you’re hearing all these kinds of stories they might condemn it, but hopefully they’ll be able to build it up to this quaint, adorable community it was,” Kalbacher said.
But the rebuilding will certainly be tough. Some people on Matlacha and neighboring Pine Island, Bokeelia and St. James City feel they’ve been forgotten after the hurricane. They said right now, they want the demolished road to be repaired so they can start to clean up and hopefully restore their island communities.