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Rescue Efforts Underway After Hurricane Ian Completely Severs Florida Island from Mainland and Causes 'Catastrophic Damage'

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Florida’s Sanibel Island, located just of the state’s western coast near Fort Myers, was devastated and isolated in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.

CNN reported two people killed on the island.

The Sanibel Causeway, a three-mile bridge connecting the island with the mainland, was badly damaged in the storm, according to The New York Times. CNN’s report said the bridge collapsed in five places. That means the island can only be accessed by boat or helicopter.

Lee County officials said the island sustained “catastrophic damage,” according to the Times.

“It got hit with really biblical storm surge,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Roads and structures were washed away, he said.

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Sanibel Mayor Holly Smith said about 200 households chose not to leave before the storm. She said 12 people who were injured had been evacuated, with another 40 rescued who were unhurt, according to CNN.

“Boats are in the water and now heading to or are on island for search and rescue. All individuals on the island need to be taken off,” she said, according to WUSF-FM.

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“I am struggling to find the words to convey my feelings, as I am sure most of us are as we look to the past four days. All our lives and our island have been forever changed. What we do tomorrow and the days and months ahead will redefine and strengthen our community,” Smith said in an update to the island’s roughly 6,500 residents.

When asked by CNN  if the island were currently livable, she said, “Frankly, no.”

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“It’s total devastation. I never dreamed I’d see anything like this in my lifetime. Especially on Sanibel,” Sanibel resident Kim Carman said, according to CNN. “You look at it and it does not look real, it is just so overwhelming.”

“I don’t think any of us have totally processed it yet,” she said, said many residents who lost everything face “total financial devastation.”

Sanibel resident Susan Andrews, who had evacuated, said she spoke to some people on the island who did not flee. She said one resident told her she could not leave the second floor of her home because the first floor was flooded, according to the Times.

“It’s a very special place,” Andrews said. “It will return, but it’s going to take a very, very long time.”

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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