Hard hit by Hurricane Ian, the Fort Myers area of Southwest Florida is a disaster.
“It’s terrible,” Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson told CNN’s John Berman Friday morning at the city’s devastated harbor, its boats overturned and cement sheets ripped from the water and falling ashore. “Look at some of these docks. They weighed as much as a ton…and they’ve been thrown away like nothing.
“There are some big ships and they’ve been tossed around like toys.”
Fort Myers Beach, located on a 7-mile-long island in the Gulf of Mexico, Fort Myers Beach City Councilman Dan Allers said Friday that he saw “absolute destruction, devastation.” “What you see are the words that come to mind when we see them.”
He also said the images show the damage but don’t “exactly show the extent of what it is.”
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office called Fort Myers Beach “impassable” in a Friday morning update.
“We hear you. We understand you have loved ones on the island,” the sheriff’s office said, noting it is not safe to drive there. “Bicycles can’t even go through clean roads.”
Helicopter footage showed debris that washed away homes and other buildings and vacant lots on Fort Myers Beach, where only residents were allowed to drive over the bridge Friday morning.
You’re talking about having no structure. You’re talking about houses thrown into the bay. This is a long-term fix, and it’s life-changing,” Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said.
Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie said an unknown number of bodies were found Friday at a home in Lee County. Crews will need special equipment to retrace the water and learn more.
Also Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Lee County has requested help from FEMA after experiencing a water main break in his county’s water service, which means the county is currently without water.
Bobby Pratt said he has lived in Fort Myers his entire life.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said. Its roof, porch and fence were damaged.
In the city of Fort Myers, rescuers reached more than 200 people in the area, and fire officials believe no one needs to be rescued, Anderson said.
Power lines and trees are down, so conditions remain dangerous, and the city is trying to clean up.
“We’d like people to stay home,” Anderson said. “It’s not safe out there.”
URRACANA IAN LIVE UPDATES
Allers told CNN’s Don Lemon Thursday night that his town was destroyed.
“I’d say 90 percent of the island is pretty much gone,” Allers said. “Unless you have a concrete home built to the same standards today or a new concrete home, your home is pretty much gone.”
Allers told CNN that many townspeople struggled to reach higher ground amid the storm surge.
“I’ve heard stories of people breaking into freezers and floating the freezers to another house … and being rescued by higher-end houses,” Allers said.
CONTINUATION OF THE STORM
“All the beach houses are gone,” Allers told CNN. “Some of the houses in the side streets are completely gone, and there is nothing but a hole with water.”
During the storm the Allers were evacuated to higher ground. Later he found out that his house was lost.
On Friday, he applied for federal aid.
“I don’t know if anyone in Washington can hear this: If you can send help, we need it.”