NewsLocal News


Some on Pine Island prepared to protect their homes

Pine Island
Posted at 5:13 PM, Oct 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-05 17:14:54-04

PINE ISLAND, Fla. — The Florida Department of Transportation is making major progress in restoring road access to Pine Island.

Crews have been building a temporary road as the only road that leads to the bridge to Pine Island was destroyed by Hurricane Ian.

FDOT says road access will be ready by Saturday, but until then the only way to get on the island is by boat.

The U.S. Coast Guard is helping with some of those relief efforts to get people on and off the island.

People on Pine Island are dealing with the aftermath of Ian.

“It's sad it’s obviously devastating to this area,” said Lt. Joshua Welsh with the U.S. Coast Guard.

Some people are choosing to stay on Pine Island despite the difficult conditions.

The island has no power, no fuel, and minimal resources.

“I don't know what we’re going to do, but we ain't going nowhere, we’ll figure it out,” said island resident Bobbie Jo Gordon.

Gordon says it’s up to her and her family to protect her home. Her son Lucas Gordon spray painted a message in front of their home, letting people know that looting will not be allowed.

“The other day my mom was pushing the mud out and she had a looter walk up on her,” said Lucas Gordon.

Those staying on the island are taking it into their own hands to protect their homes.

However, there are Lee County Sheriff's Officers on the island helping with surveillance.

With the temporary road to Pine Island seeing major progress, Gordon said she has faith.

“I have faith in Governor DeSantis and what he's bringing to us,” said Gordon.

Hope is spreading across the island.

“I see the road being built right now. It's giving me goosebumps now that we have a road being built and pretty soon we'll have access to the island,” said Jesse Gonzalez from Saint James City.

On Tuesday, disaster relief teams with FEMA were helping people at the Matlacha Fire Department.

The fire department is serving as a resource center for people on the island.

“Transportation is an issue, communication is an issue, but we are trying to adapt to help the people that are here,” said Lameen Wittier, a disaster relief worker with FEMA.

Rachel Ferguson and Sue Ferguson evacuated from their two homes in Saint James City on Tuesday afternoon.

“We’re going to miss being away, but we’re just leaving because of health problems, we can't be far away from a hospital for health reasons and she has seizures, or else we would stay,” said Sue Ferguson.

Although they're leaving, it’s only temporary.

“This is our home so it’s hard to leave it, but we’ll be back,” said Ferguson.

Welsh said people are leaving, but some are also going back to the island.

“It comes in waves, we’ve seen a lot of people want to get off the island, but we’ve seen a lot wanting to get back to their homes,” said Welsh.

In his 16 years of responding to disasters, he said Hurricane Ian has been different.

“Every disaster is different to some extent, as of right now we’re here as long as people need us, and as long as we continue to do so we'll be here,” he said.

To date Welsh said their team in Matlacha has helped evacuate over 400 people from Pine Island.