December 4, 2022
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Fort Myers Beach home, business owners can return to island on Sunday

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FORT MYERS BEACH, Fl. (WBBH) – Nearly two weeks after Hurricane Ian delivered a devastating and historic blow to Fort Myers Beach, town leaders are ready for property owners to return to the island. 

On Saturday, only people that own property north of the Times Square area were allowed back on the island and were required to be bussed over the Matanzas Pass Bridge. 

Starting Sunday, anyone with property, renting, or who has a legitimate purpose to be on the island will be allowed back. 

The Town of Fort Myers Beach made the decision on October 1 to close the island in order for search and rescue crews to complete their response. In total, 29 survivors were found, including one as recent as Thursday. 

“In this kind of debris, and it’s nothing short of miraculous,” said Councilman Bill Veach. “I’ve heard an estimate of 80-90% of the structures on the island won’t be fit for habitation again.”

If you pick a street on Fort Myers Beach, you can walk down and see home after home either destroyed or severely damaged from Hurricane Ian. 

“This is one street of dozens of dozens of streets,” Veach said. 

Sunday will be an eye-opening experience for home and business owners, to say the least. 

Here’s how the town plans on re-entering property owners: 

  • Property owners between the Big Carlos Pass Bridge and Beach Theater on the south end of the island, or between Times Square and Bowditch Point Park on the north end of the island can enter beginning at 7 am.
  • Properties between the Beach Theater and Publix can enter after 8 am.
  • Properties between Publix and Town Hall can enter after 9 am.
  • Properties between Town Hall and Times Square can enter after 10 am.

“We’re just trying to get people on and off as efficiently as possible,” said Veach. “We don’t want a bumrush at 7 in the morning with everyone and their mothers because all you’re going to end up doing is waiting anyway.”

It’s the chance to grab what you need and even get a look at what it will take to rebuild, but not to move back in. While the town can’t stop you, there’s not much on the island for you. 

No water. No power. No food. And there won’t be for quite some time. 

“And it’s going to take a long time to get those things going.” 

Longtime residents like Mike Carran Jr. don’t need all that. After all, he’s living in paradise. 

“It’s paradise. It just took a little left turn for a while,” Carran Jr. said. 

From the second flood of his beach house, there’s not even the slightest clue of the natural disaster outside. 

“It’s comfortable. No, this is my home. This is home,” he said. “This is where I’m going to stay. This is where we raised our family.” 

He’s in it for the long haul. How does he do it? 

Daniel: “Did you ever go camping? 

Gage: “I have” 

Daniel: “Well, there you are. You got your answer.” 

Unfortunately, he’s the outlier here. Many homes now look like Councilman Veach’s house: all but gone. 

But don’t be mistaken. He and so many other islanders are committed to raising a new beachfront from the rubble. It may not be the one we know, but certainly one we’ll learn to love. 

“Everybody likes the funky Fort Myers Beach. The little old beach cottages, the little old restaurants, that kind of stuff,” Veach said. “Unfortunately, Ian kind of washed away the funky. We are going to have to find a way to recreate something to keep it interesting.”



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