Severed Florida causeway reopens three weeks after Hurricane Ian
Officials reopened Florida’s Sanibel Island Causeway on Wednesday, restoring access to the island three weeks after Hurricane Ian ravaged the sole road between it and the mainland.
The Category 4 storm made landfall a few miles north of the popular tourist destination late last month, destroying the causeway in three different places as it wreaked havoc on the island and in other areas of Florida’s Gulf Coast.
“The work that has been done to restore vehicle access to Sanibel Island has been historic,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said in a statement.
“Cutting through bureaucratic red tape and delivering on our promise to get Sanibel Island up and running has been a top priority,” DeSantis continued. “By restoring access over the causeway, repair crews, first responders, emergency vehicles, business owners and residents will be better able to expedite recovery from this storm.”
DeSantis visited the island on Wednesday morning to make the announcement alongside local and county officials.
DeSantis and Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue said the project was completed ahead of schedule after DeSantis directed the department to prioritize repairs on the causeway. Officials will now continue making plans for permanent repairs.
“I am grateful for our dedicated team members who quite literally built a road in the Gulf in 15 days,” said Perdue. “While the bridges were largely undamaged by the storm, portions of the causeway which connect bridge structures together were washed away by Hurricane Ian, leaving the bridges unconnected to the mainland or the island. A project like this, under normal circumstances, could take months.”
Hurricane Ian made landfall near Cayo Costa, Fla., on Sept. 28, bringing destructive winds and rain that caused dangerous storm surges and killed more than 100 people.
The storm knocked out power for more than 2 million residents at one point, although DeSantis said officials have since restored power to all accounts on the mainland.
DeSantis’s office on Tuesday said insurers had already reported a total of $5.99 billion in estimated losses from 535,445 total claims.
University of Florida researchers estimated agriculture losses alone could reach $1.56 billion based on a preliminary assessment.