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9 a.m. | Sanibel Causeway, Pine Island bridge damaged from storm, DeSantis says
The causeway to Sanibel Island and the Pine Island bridge are not passible and are in need of structural rebuilds, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday morning.
More than 100 engineers in pairs of two will work to assess the bridges along the west coast of Florida, DeSantis said.
At this time, for Lee County, DeSantis said it’s going to take time to get the power back on due to the need to rebuild structures. He said resources are currently heading to Southwest Florida including 100 portable cell towers and 300 truckloads of food and water.
“The damage done is historic,” DeSantis said. “This is just from initial assessments. We have never seen a flood event like this. We have never seen storm surge of this magnitude. There’s going to be a lot of work to do.”
As of 9 a.m., Interstate 75 through Alligator Alley is open and traffic is moving, according to DeSantis. Crews are still assessing the stretch of I-75 in Lee County. North of Lee County, I-75 is open.
A major disaster declaration has been declared for nine Florida counties including Lee and Collier. This means individuals will be able to get assistance from FEMA. DeSantis recommended taking photos of water lines in homes.
“Today we are identifying those still in harm’s way and start rebuilding,” he said.
8:49 a.m. | LCSO says jail inmates safe following Ian
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Wednesday night that inmates in the Lee County Jail facilities are safe.
The two facilities are at 2115 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and 2501 Ortiz Avenue.
Officials said in an abundance of caution, inmates were relocated within the main jail to a higher floor.
7:50 a.m. | Lee sheriff says he fears ‘hundreds’ dead from Hurricane Ian
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said on “Good Morning America” earlier Thursday that the number of deaths from Hurricane Ian could reach into the hundreds.
“So while I don’t have confirmed numbers, I defintitely know fatalities are in the hundreds,” Marceno said. “There are thousands of people that are waiting to be rescued.
“And again, I can’t give a true assessment until we’re actually on scene assessing each scene. And we can’t access, that’s the problem. We’re accessing the bridges, seeing what’s compromised and what’s not.
7:28 a.m. | Search, rescue efforts underway in Lee County
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office said early Thursday that it has commenced search and rescue efforts for those stranded by Hurricane Ian.
“Our Mobile Command Center is ready to respond and assist with search and rescue along with our other assets. We are here for our community,” Lee County Sheriff’s Office wrote on Facebook just before 7 a.m.
Officials also warned residents of the road hazards from debris, fallen trees, and downed powerline. In addition, many traffic lights are currently out.
To ease traffic, they said many intersections will be treated as four-way stops. At four-way stops, the first vehicle to stop should move forward first. If two vehicles reach the intersection at the same time, the driver on the left yields to the driver on the right.
They added to avoid traveling on the road unless absolutely necessary. They will have deputies deployed throughout the county
12:38 a.m. | Nearly 268,000 Lee FPL customers remain without power
Lee County early Thursday remained the Florida county with the most residents without power. FPL reported on its website Power Tracker that 267,720 Lee customers had no power while it has restored power to 16,180. Nearly 284,000 Lee customers lost electricity Wednesday when Hurricane Ian made landfall at Cayo Costa in the county.
In Collier County, 202,300 FPL customers lost power and 185,420 still have none. Electricity has been restored to 16,880 Collier customers.
FPL reported that nearly 1.5 million customers lost power when the hurricane hit. Electricity has been restored in Florida to 363,310 customers while about 1.1 million still have none.
Hurricane resources and links
Hurricane Ian:How to donate to Florida Disaster Fund
When is it safe to go outside? Do not leave your home or shelter until emergency officials tell you it’s safe
More:See damage done by Hurricane Ian in videos showing storm surges, Category 4 winds
And:See traffic and beach conditions in Fort Myers, Cape Coral as Hurricane Ian nears Florida
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism