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THE REBUILD: Permits still part of the wait on San Carlos Island

Nearly 16 months after Ian, the wait for permits before the deep cost to rebuild
Posted at 10:25 PM, Jan 17, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-17 22:25:36-05

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — Over 15 months since Hurricane Ian struck, people on San Carlos Island are still working to rebuild their lives and homes. Many neighbors are caught in the lengthy process of waiting for permits.

We met Chuck Brantley, a San Carlos Island resident who weathered the storm on his sailboat.

"I had ridden out the storm on my sailboat; it was kind of a scary experience, not one I'd recommend," Brantley recalled.

He managed to capture a striking photo from his boat, showing the water surge that exceeded 14 feet, with his vessel floating near rooftops.

Hurricane Ian surge on San Carlos Island

Brantley has since been focused on rebuilding his home, which is nearly complete. "We're like 98% done, life's starting to get back to normal," he said.

However, not all residents have experienced the same timely recovery.

Sharon Chaffee, another neighbor here, expressed her concerns, "Back to normal, you mean the new normal? I'm hoping it will at least happen within the next six months. That's my prayer," Chaffee said.

The most significant hurdle for many has been securing building permits. Chaffee, is still awaiting permit approval.

"I can't do anything until the building permit is approved," she explained.

In addition to permitting delays, people are grappling with multiple costs, even before the actual reconstruction begins.

"I had to pay for a temporary RV permit, a temporary electric permit, a permit for my demolition, and for inspections. These are just the start; I haven't even begun rebuilding," shared Cheryl Wiese, highlighting the extensive and costly recovery process.

Aside from the challenges of permitting, the community is also working to restore basic infrastructure. Residents have been in talks with Florida Power & Light (FPL) to bring more street lights to the neighborhood, which remains in darkness at night.