FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — When walking down Estero Boulevard on Fort Myers Beach, it's not hard to miss one of the many buildings devastated from Hurricane Ian eleven months ago.
On Sept. 1, property owners on Estero Island received a letter from the Town of Fort Myers Beach if they identified the structure on the property as unsafe or abandoned in the interest of public and community safety.
The Town will create a code compliance case for those properties, and the property owner must get a permit before Oct. 31 to either demolish or rebuild on their property.
After the property owners acquire the building permit, they have 180 days to demolish or repair the structure and close the permit.
Patti Smith lives on the island. She said a few of her neighbors received the letter above.
“I appreciate that they’re trying to get things moving and get us back to some kind of normalcy, so I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing.”
However, Smith said she believes the timeline could be later.
“You can look at the October date from Ian and say okay that’s thirteen months, but the date of the notification and that sitting in with you, and you're having to process...Maybe January 1 would be an easier timeline.”
Smith attributed the delay in properties rebuilding from insurance issues, money and contractors.
Patti Smith owned two properties on the island, a generational family home which she had to demolish, and the home she lives in now that she rebuilt after Hurricane Ian.
“It’s a very heartbreaking decision to make that sometimes people can’t make right away, or it take times.”
Overall, Smith said the town of Fort Myers Beach could've handled this process better.
“They haven’t handled this very well. In their defense, when was the last time they had to handle something like this,” Smith said.
She added, "People do want to move on. There's just reasons why they can't."