Search and rescue operations could end this weekend on Fort Myers Beach

Published: October 7, 2022 3:12 PM EDT
Missouri Task Force 1 amid the wreckage of Fort Myers Beach. Credit: Boone County Fire Protection District

Search and rescue operations on Fort Myers Beach could stop as soon as this weekend.

“We hope to provide access points to residents this weekend,” Commissioner Michael Greenwell said during a press conference on Friday.

Access to the island would most likely be provided on the north end because the south end of Fort Myers Beach saw some bridge damage.

Fort Myers Beach has been closed to residents as search and rescue groups have gone home to home looking for survivors.

Cecil Pendergrass, a Lee County commissioner and chairman of the board, said the reason why Fort Myers Beach remains without access and Sanibel is open to residents is because most of Sanibel’s inhabitants evacuated.

“The island was cleared,” said Kevin Ruane, a Lee County commissioner and former Sanibel mayor. “There were less than 10 people here.”

That wasn’t the case in Fort Myers Beach.

“Fort Myers Beach had the greatest number of fatalities,” said Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais. “The search and rescue teams will finish their final sweep for survivors and for fatalities probably this weekend.”

Next week, Desjarlais said, there is a plan for condos to bring generators to the Island in order to keep the buildings from developing mold.

“Let’s look at the fact that we are going to open up,” Ruane said. “Let’s look at the fact that we are going to move forward.”