Live updates: Emergency personnel, utility trucks, Florida DOT can access Pine Island

This is a live news blog with the latest news and information about Hurricane Ian relief and recovery efforts in Lee County.

Wednesday will mark one week since the Category 4 storm slammed Southwest Florida, including Collier County. The coastal communities like Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel Island and Pine Island, were hit the hardest.

Our team of journalists is spread out around SWFL doing the best they can to bring you the latest information.

Presidential visit: Biden, DeSantis put politics aside to assess recovery efforts after Hurricane Ian

Leave or stay? On devastated Pine Island after Ian, everyone should probably leave. They aren’t.

Need help? Useful links to help you with post Hurricane Ian challenges in Lee County

Stay informed: Sign up to a special texting group for updates on Hurricane Ian and its aftermath

Work has begun to repair part of the road linking Matlacha with the inland Monday, October 03, 2022.
Work has begun to repair part of the road linking Matlacha with the inland Monday, October 03, 2022.

3:14 p.m. | Passage to Pine Island bridge now open to emergency personnel, utility trucks and Florida DOT

Lee County and the Florida Department of Transportation with the assistance of private contractors have restored access to the Pine Island bridge from the mainland.

Emergency personnel, utility and supply trucks, and FDOT crews now have access to make the island safe and secure. Soon, residents will be able return to their homes and start their recovery. Check for updates from Lee County government by following @Lee County Government on Facebook,  www.facebook.com/leecountyflbocc.

3:09 p.m. | Helpful Insurance information from the state

SEE LINK RIGHT HERE

2:26 p.m. POTUS arrives on San Carlos Island

President Biden arrived at Fisherman's Wharf at 2:07 pm. At various points along his route from the airport onlookers held up cell phones -- snapping pictures -- and sometimes their middle finger.

POTUS is due to receive a briefing with state, local and federal officials at the wharf, which is covered in debris. Will attempt to send some pictures.

1:53 p.m. | Here is some news about mail service

READ THE STORY HERE

1:31 p.m. update  | Access Restored to Pine Island in less than three days

Today, Governor Ron DeSantis along with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Secretary, Jared W. Perdue, announced the early completion of emergency road and bridge repairs for Pine Island. On Sunday, Governor DeSantis directed FDOT to work with Lee County to expedite work and complete repairs by Saturday, October 8. Work began on Monday and FDOT crews worked hard to finish the repairs in monumental timing – less than three days.

“Within 24 hours after I asked FDOT to get involved, we had more than 130 trucks rolling in and crews got to work,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “We made it a priority and we didn’t just get it done – we got it done quick. I want to thank the dedicated FDOT crews for working around the clock to restore the community’s access to Pine Island.”

“Hundreds of loads of sand and rock, various pieces of heavy equipment, and dedicated crew members have literally helped pave the way to recovery for this community. The Department was honored to be called to help support Florida’s communities in their greatest time of need,” said FDOT Secretary Jared W. Perdue, P.E. “We are proud to have worked alongside our partners, Lee County, and deliver on our promise of reconnecting this community to the mainland as quickly as we possibly could.”

Hurricane Ian completely devasted the area and cut off access from the mainland to this barrier island, which prevented necessary services and supplies from being driven directly into the community. FDOT and Lee County expedited emergency repairs to the road and bridges that provide motorists access to Pine Island. With construction complete, emergency personnel, utility trucks, and FDOT’s Cut and Toss crews now have access to make the island safe and secure for the 9,000 residents of Pine Island to soon begin returning to their homes and start their recovery.

Once immediate recovery efforts have subsided, permanent repairs to the Pine Island Bridge will be constructed. While the permanent replacement is expected to take some time to complete, the work completed this week provides safe and immediate access.

Additionally, Governor DeSantis announced yesterday that the contract to begin repairs to the Sanibel Causeway was awarded. Equipment was mobilized last night, and there is already a team on the ground to begin repairs. The repairs to the Sanibel Causeway are expected to be completed by the end of the month.

Vanessa Castro, a school social worker, greets families at the Lee County Schools food distribution on Wednesday, Oct 5, 2022.
Vanessa Castro, a school social worker, greets families at the Lee County Schools food distribution on Wednesday, Oct 5, 2022.

1:04 p.m. | United Cajun Navy set up in Island Park

Hundreds of volunteers from Louisiana and across the country are gathered at the southwest corner of U.S. 41 and Island Park Road.

The United Cajun Navy is serving free meals and giving away essential supplies until 6 p.m. tonight.

Church crews are cooking 1,000 plates of jambalaya and there are truckloads of water and ice.

Volunteers are riding on horse from house to house to check for anyone in need and to help comfort those who are suffering here.

The horses are therapy horses and well as rescue animals, and many resident shave enjoyed seeing them in this devastated community.

Organizers encourage those needing a warm meal or water to operate within roped off areas.

There was parking available me for maybe 50 more cars around noon at the facility across from Goodwill.

12:02 p.m. | Lee Health, NCH continue to work together on patient safety

Here is the latest on what is going on at Lee Health in Lee County and NCH in Collier County from our health reporter Liz Freeman.

READ FULL STORY

11:21 a.m. |  New hygiene station, point of distribution in Cape Coral

The city of Cape Coral gave residents a Hurricane Ian recovery update Wednesday morning, Oct. 5, including a new hygiene station and point of distribution station.

Cape Coral hygiene station

  • Jim Jeffers Park, 2817 SW 3rd Lane

  • Open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

  • Bring your shower supplies – toiletries and towels are not provided

  • Charging and cooling stations are also available

  • Laundry services are on-site for residents

READ THE FULL STORY

9:53 a.m. | Lee County opens additional Point of Distribution for those needing food and water

Lee County – along with state and federal partners – continue opening Points of Distribution (PODs) for hurricane-impacted residents who need food and water.

  • Announcements will be made with location information as more PODs are mobilized and opened as supplies become available.

  • Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

  • As PODs open, the county will use its media partners, its Emergency Alert System (which reaches residents’ phones), its website and social media to inform the public of the POD locations. Check www.leegov.com for POD updates or follow @Lee County Government on Facebook,

  • www.facebook.com/leecountyflbocc.

New location open today, Oct. 5:

Coral Oaks Golf Course, 1800 Northwest 28th Ave., Cape Coral

Locations that remain open:

Old Bonita Library, 26876 Pine Ave., Bonita Springs

Kelly Road Soccer Complex, 10750 Kelly Road, Fort Myers

Cape Coral Sports Complex, 1410 Sports Blvd., Cape Coral

Cape Coral Leonard Street, 4820 Leonard St., Cape Coral

Estero High School Ballfield Park, 9100 Williams Road, Estero

North Fort Myers Recreation Center, 2000 N. Recreation Park Way, North Fort Myers

Fleamasters Fleamarket, 4135 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Fort Myers

Veterans Park Recreation Center, 55 Homestead Road S., Lehigh Acres

9:31 a.m. | Lumen (formerly CenturyLink) techs restore more than 60% of services in Florida

Lumen technicians have restored more than 60% of services knocked out by the storm. The focus is now on repairing approximately 99,000 home internet services and 22,000 home phone services still impacted in the central/southwest Florida area.

In the same location where Hurricane Ian hit hardest, Lumen converted a Ft. Myers warehouse into its temporary Logistics Command Center. Equipment supporting internet, Ethernet, voice and other services are being shipped to this one location for faster access and easier deployment to the areas needing it most. Since the hurricane hit, Lumen technicians have focused on quickly restoring services in Port Charlotte, Ft. Myers, Bonita Springs, Naples, and other nearby areas. And progress continues every day.

Lumen is offering Emergency Call Forwarding for 90 days free of charge to residential and small business customers in central Florida impacted by Hurricane Ian. The service allows customers who have been displaced from their home or business due to the hurricane, to receive their home or business phone calls on an alternative number. For more information or to set up the service, customers should call 800-244-1111.

9:20 a.m. | The latest from RSW

Operations are running smoothly at RSW. Stacey Henson, The News-Press/Naples Daily News breaking news editor, reports smooth operations at Southwest Florida International Airport this morning. The passenger drop off area had steady but smooth traffic, as was the same with TSA security checkpoints. All concessions were open with a stream of customers in Concourse D.

7:59 a.m. | Another look at the unfolding Pine Island saga

READ THE STORY HERE

7:40 a.m. | RSW airport is back open this morning

Southwest Florida International has reopened after being closed for nearly one week due to damage caused by Hurricane Ian.
Southwest Florida International has reopened after being closed for nearly one week due to damage caused by Hurricane Ian.

Southwest Florida International airport is now open.

It was closed for almost a week due to damage left behind by Hurricane Ian.

7:29 a.m. | Cape Coral power restoration seeing progress

LCEC power update for Tuesday, Oct, 5, 2022.
LCEC power update for Tuesday, Oct, 5, 2022.

As of 6 a.m. Tuesday, LCEC is reporting that power has been restored to 45 percent of its customers across Southwest Florida.

In Cape Coral, where the power restoration efforts have been slow going, 13,057 LCEC customers were back on line, leaving more than 81,000 still without power.

This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Hurricane Ian: Recovery and relief efforts continue in Lee County