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Concern grows as Sanibel Island is cut off from Florida's mainland

Tropical Weather
Posted at 10:43 AM, Sep 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-30 15:35:37-04

Sanibel Island looks more like a war zone than a tropical paradise after Hurricane Ian.

Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais told CNN on Friday that the hurricane's eyewall stalled in the area for three to four hours on Wednesday.

The Sanibel Causeway, which connects the island to the mainland, is heavily damaged. Parts of it were completely wiped out by the hurricane.

Desjarlais said the island is not accessible by ground vehicles. Rescues are underway by air or boat.

"It is slow going," Desjarlais noted.

Officials have not released a death toll from the island. However, Desjarlais is concerned that the loss of life could be extensive.

"Not as many people evacuated from those islands as we had hoped for," he said.

Sanibel Mayor Holly D. Smith said the number one priority right now is getting everyone off the island.

"All individuals on the island need to be taken off," she stated in a message to residents.

She added that there isn't a timeframe for reentry.

"It just isn’t possible," Smith said. "If you are somewhere safe, please stay there."