Sanibel immensely damaged following Hurricane Ian

SANIBEL, Fla. — On Friday, constant relief helicopter sorties from the National Guard, Coast Guard and other agencies could be heard overhead. We managed to catch a ride on a boat bound for Sanibel, visiting the island for the first time since Ian hit.

On the last seaworthy vessel from Mullock Creek in South Lee County, we headed towards Matanzas Pass, finding a devastated Fort Myers Beach with boats in places you couldn’t imagine.

“All the boats in the bay, except for a few, were pretty much pushed against each other in the bay on the Fort Myers side,” said Adam Bondi, who worked on Sanibel, but left before the storm.

Because of the debris in the water, our boat almost couldn’t make it after our propeller got caught on a mattress just under the surface. Our destination was Mariner Pointe, a once beautiful canalside enclave on Sanibel, now inaccessible.

As Chinook, Blackhawk, and other helicopters hovered overhead, we found million-dollar homes gutted by floodwaters and debris everywhere. It’s hard to imagine someone could have survived.

But surprisingly, on Friday, we found people who stayed, some of whose first contact with the mainland was us.

“To all my friends, I am alive and well, and working like a dog right now. But its a beautiful day and we’ll make the best of it,” said Stan Kane, a Sanibel resident.

FWC and the Coast Guard used what vessels they could to ferry people off the island.

“They got the ferry going back and forth, so I am trying to get off,” said Dan Liebsher of Sanibel.

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