Sanibel Island Residents Describe Struggle to Survive Ian and Escape – The Wall Street Journal

Sanibel Island, FloridaCNN — 

An older couple who rode out Hurricane Ian in their home on Sanibel Island in Florida could not agree on evacuating after parts of the causeway to the mainland were destroyed.

“We’re going. We’re going,” the unidentified man told his partner as she looked down from the home’s upper porch.

“But where?” she asked.

Fort Myers, she was told by the man and members of a rescue mission who arrived by boat.

“The bridge is down.”

“I’m not ready to go,” she said Thursday, staying behind.

‘This is true carnage’

Ian ripped away several parts of the causeway that was the island’s only access to Florida’s mainland. On Thursday night, dozens of people remained stranded, according to Sanibel Mayor Holly Smith.

At least five sections of the Sanibel Causeway – which connects Sanibel and Captiva islands to the mainland – were washed away by the storm, Lee County officials said.

Twelve people were rescued off Sanibel Island with injuries and about 40 people were rescued without injuries, the mayor told CNN on Thursday. Sanibel City Manager Dana Souza reported the two fatalities.

When asked if the city is currently livable, the mayor said, “Frankly, no.”

An aerial view of beach erosion near Casa Ybel Beach Resort on Sanibel Island, Florida, after Hurricane Ian.

An aerial view of beach erosion near Casa Ybel Beach Resort on Sanibel Island, Florida, after Hurricane Ian.NOAA

Many beach cottages that lined the shores of Sanibel Island were wiped away by Ian’s storm surge, new aerial imagery from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows. Most homes appear to have sustained roof damage, along with damage from the storm surge and flooding.

“The destruction is unbelievable,” Stern told CNN. “This is true carnage. It’s a war zone.”

Nancy and Robert Sharon were among the people Stern’s outfit and volunteers from the Cajun Navy rescued on Thursday.

“I heard they weren’t going to do anything after the bridge closed down but my granddaughters are in Ohio and she was crying hysterical when I talked to her,” Nancy Sharon said.

Her grandchildren contacted the Cajun Navy and Project Dynamo and begged them to check for proof of life.

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