Storm surge brings heavy surf, more visitors to Fort Myers Beach

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. - As Hurricane Michael caused destruction in Florida's panhandle, Southwest Florida's beaches saw heavy surf and winds - which brought an increase in visitors to see the water churned up by the powerful storm.

"I've never seen the waves this crazy before," said beach visitor Dan Gjerseth, as the water sloshed across most of the sand near the Fort Myers Beach pier Wednesday afternoon. He said it was even higher around 1:00 a.m.

"I actually saw it crashing on the side of houses last night, on the foundations," Gjerseth said.

The storm surge brought the water right up to the walls of restaurants near the pier.

Andrea Carriere, owner of Silvers Sands Villas on Fort Myers Beach, said the weather was refreshing after all the recent heat and humidity.

"It is kind of great weather right now," Carriere said. "Wind is blowing through your hair, temperature's down, so it's a lovely change. It's almost like fall."

She's hoping that Michael might have a positive effect on beach tourism in Southwest Florida - by possibly moving red tide out of the area.

"I think it will be helpful, because it's going to push everything north with the storm," Carriere said.

The heavy surf wasn't enough to keep people out of the water. Some ventured out to body surf and go parasailing.

But while some enjoyed the big waves at Fort Myers Beach, visitor Cindy Schrader's thoughts were with those dealing with the brunt of the hurricane in the panhandle.

"I do know people up there, and they've actually come inland, so I'm grateful for that," Schrader said. 

Several restaurants along the beach told Fox 4 that business was better than usual for the middle of the week, due to people coming out to watch the heavy surf.

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