PINE ISLAND, Fla. — The U.S. Coast Guard started evacuating Pine Island residents who were stranded after Hurricane Ian damaged the only bridge on and off the island.
Residents met at the Pine Island Fire Department and were ferried across the water to the mainland.
There they either boarded Lee Tran buses to go to a shelter or caught rides with family and friends.
“We were worried that supplies were going to run out,” said Maritsa Landis, who was stranded on the island for five days.
Landis lives in Largo with her husband, but was visiting friends when Ian struck.
The storm made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane on Lee County’s barrier islands.
Along Pine Island Road, the famous restaurant district in Matlacha is a pile of rubble.
Few buildings are still standing.
“Some of the mobile homes were destroyed and some were not,” Landis said. “Our friend’s is like, no light, it got flooded, everything is trashed. Part of the roof is off. It’s pretty bad.”
“I’ve never been so happy to be going back home.”
Meanwhile, Lee County officials announced Sunday they plan to reopen a temporary road to Pine Island by Saturday October 2nd.
FDOT will begin mobilizing equipment, materials and crews this week.
“These repairs are needed for first responders and residents to access the island, as well as other recovery efforts such as power restoration and debris removal,” county leaders said in a statement.