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Tipsheet

DeSantis Builds Temporary Bridge to Relieve Residents of Pine Island

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Florida did its best to prepare for Hurricane Ian towards the end of September. The storm reached major hurricane status as it approached the Sunshine State, with sustained winds reaching 124 miles per hour in some places. The amount of damage is going to be catastrophic, with an early projection of $40 billion. As of now, the death toll conservatively rests at 117. Most victims drowned when the storm surge reached eight-to-twelve feet in some places. Those who decided to stay behind when Ian made landfall could have shielded themselves from the wind but couldn’t outrun the water.

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The barrier chain of Pine Island, Captiva, and Sanibel, which is only three feet above sea level, got thrashed by Ian. The causeway connecting these places to the mainland was destroyed, leaving its residents stranded. Gov. Ron DeSantis has put on a master class in crisis management, building a temporary bridge to Pine in three days to allow for evacuations and the distribution of relief aid this week (via Fox13):

It's been a week since Hurricane Ian made landfall, and some residents on Pine Island could only reach the mainland by boat – until now.

A temporary bridge has been constructed, and the public can begin using it Wednesday afternoon, explained Gov. Ron DeSantis during a press conference in Matlacha. 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.

[…]

Florida officials said the goal was to complete the bridge by the end of the week, meaning they are ahead of schedule.

"They were talking about running ferries and stuff," DeSantis said. "And honestly, you may be able to do that, but I think this is an easier thing, and I think people need their vehicles anyways."

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.

Wednesday, before the temporary bridge was in place, Publix sent its employees by boat to their single location on Pine Island. Now, they can send trucks over to begin reopening the store.

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The governor also mobilized an army of 42,000 linemen to restore power to Floridians. Mostly, they have succeeded in gradually restoring electricity to these residents. In some places, it’s simply not possible since Ian has washed away transformers and other key infrastructure pieces.

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