Sanibel Causeway: The bridge that connects two Florida islands to the mainland, was swept away by Hurricane Ian



CNN

At least three sections of the Sanibel Causeway were washed away by Hurricane Ian’s storm surge, according to video from CNN affiliates WBBH and WPLG, cutting Sanibel and Captiva Islands’ only connection to mainland Florida.

Videos taken from the roadway show two sections of the ramp for the two bridges, as well as a section of roadway that crossed an island in the middle of the roadway.

A portion of the Sanibel Causeway Bridge was “damaged/washed out,” Lt. Gregory S. Bueno of the Florida Highway Patrol’s Public Affairs Division told CNN. All lanes of the bridge are currently closed and the severity of the closure is listed as “major,” according to Florida 511.

Damage from Hurricane Ian: The causeway connecting the Florida mainland and the island fell into the ocean

As of April 2021, about 6,400 people lived in the city of Sanibel, according to the US Census Bureau. There are many hotels and resorts on the islands, whose beaches attract a large number of tourists every year.

A 2017 City of Sanibel count measured annual bridge traffic over the roadway at more than 3 million vehicles.

Law enforcement and Lee County Department of Transportation personnel are on the road, officials said in an update Thursday morning, and bridge inspectors were working to assess all bridges in Lee County. Residents are advised to stay off the roads “unless necessary”.

The county, which includes Fort Myers in addition to Sanibel and Captiva islands and Cape Coral, suffered “catastrophic damage” from the storm, officials said, with 98 percent of the county still without power.

City search and rescue teams from local agencies are “actively participating in search and rescue efforts,” with federal search and rescue teams being deployed. Meanwhile, the 15 shelters that were opened before the storm’s arrival remain open.