LAKE MARY, Fla. - Road access to Florida’s Pine Island has been reestablished ahead of schedule a week after Category 4 Hurricane Ian killed more than 120 people in the state and caused widespread destruction.
The Florida Department of Transportation on Friday, October 7, tweeted a video that shows vehicles moving across a bridge that connects Pine Island – one of the hard-hit southwest barrier islands – to mainland Florida.
"The Florida Highway Patrol was proud to support the @MyFDOT and local partners as they restored road access to Pine Island – ahead of schedule. Incredible team effort," the caption reads.
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A temporary bridge had been constructed, though many of Pine Island's residents stayed put for days without electricity and other resources while hoping the lone bridge to the mainland is repaired.
Aerial footage shows a boat dock serves as a makeshift bridge on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Matlacha, Florida. Hurricane Ian washed away part of a bridge there, making the road to Pine Island impassable. (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Pine Island is the largest barrier island off Florida's Gulf coast. Hurricane Ian heavily damaged its causeway.
"We feel as a community that if we leave the island — abandon it — nobody is going to take care of that problem of fixing our road in and out," Pine Island resident Leslie Arias said as small motor boats delivered water and other necessities.
Officials are also planning a similar temporary bridge for Sanibel Island, but it will take a little more time. The causeway sustained major damages during the storm, making the only link between Sanibel, Captiva, and the mainland impassable.