FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — Southwest Florida is now in recovery mode, trying to rebuild what we love following Hurricane Ian's destruction. Business owners are trying to push forward through it all.
If you live in the area or come here to vacation, you know San Carlos Boulevard is the gateway to Fort Myers Beach. It's a place where you go to hotels, restaurants, the Gulf and to build memories.
"It's hard to look at. It's devastating," said Jodie Stout, owner of Fish Overboard Charters.
The bridge is closed now, but Stout had the chance to look at the beach.
"No marinas, no hotels, no bar and grills. Nothing," he said.
This comes at a time when southwest Florida businesses were getting ready for tourism season.
"Tons and tons of business being lost right now," Stout said. "All these charter boats were booked up the entire next month and for two more months after that for sure."
It can't happen now as we try to rebuild. San Carlos Boulevard is now covered with debris such as metal and boats.
"All the boats went all the way clear across the road," Stout said.
His boat was tangled in the mangroves, and he isn't sure how they're going to get them out.
It's a devastating time we're all trying to work through. Stout thinks it'll take at least a year before we see Fort Myers Beach up and running again.
"It’s going to take a ton of time and a ton of effort and a lot of assistance," he said.
The effort is something our community is already putting forth to rebuild Fort Myers Beach and the gateway to paradise.
"That's all we can do is go through it together," Stout said. "We'll just rebuild and go on."