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Amid leadership changes, progress continues on Fort Myers Beach

New Mayor Dan Allers spoke exclusively with Fox 4 on Friday about his vision for recovery.
Fort Myers Beach
Posted at 5:51 PM, Nov 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-18 17:51:37-05

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — 51 days after Hurricane Ian decimated the resort town of Fort Myers Beach the hotels and restaurants that line Estero Boulevard are empty and in disrepair if they’re even still standing.

Town leaders gave Fox 4 Investigates an exclusive tour of the work being done to clear the debris from the roads, sidewalks, and sand.

“I certainly don’t think there’s going to be much vacationing here this season,” said Mayor Dan Allers, who was appointed to the job on Monday.

“But, hopefully, next season (tourists) can return. It all depends on how quickly we can get this debris out here. But we need help. We need help from the federal government.”

As Fort Myers Beach continues to recover from the disastrous storm, there’s new leadership at the helm.

Allers and Jim Atterholt were appointed Mayor and Vice-Mayor, respectively, at Monday’s town council meeting.

The previous Mayor, Ray Murphy, lost his re-election bid by only 51 votes to John King.

In an exclusive interview with Fox 4, Allers laid out his vision for Fort Myers Beach as it recovers from the storm.

“The last thing I would want to see is high-rises up and down the island. That’s not why I came here. That’s not why I’m staying here. That’s not what I want in the future,” Allers said, insisting he wants to preserve the culture of Fort Myers Beach.

Day-to-day operations in Fort Myers Beach are being run out of a temporary campsite next to the old Town Hall.

Allers says he’s keeping a close eye on who is leaving, who is staying, and who is moving into town.

“Unfortunately, we’re going to lose some residents. We’ve already lost some residents. We’re gonna get some new residents. We’re probably going to get new businesses. Our buildings are going to look a bit different. So, we need to get a handle on that,” Allers said.

Tourism is obviously the economic driver for Fort Myers Beach, but that revenue stream has been cut off for this year.

Allers says he’s hopeful that by this time next year, tourists will be returning.

“We know we’re going to take a hit. We’re going to be bringing in less capital,” said Allers.

“So, we have to be very careful with what we’re spending. Who we’re working with.”

The town is also in need of a new town manager.

Previous town manager Roger Hernstadt resigned on Monday.

An interim manager is expected to be in place by early next week.

Town leaders will then start searching for a full-time manager.

“It’s going to be an extensive search,” said Allers.

“You’re going to have to want to come into something. You’re going to have to use all your skills.”