On Oct. 5, just hours before Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that emergency road and bridge repairs to Pine Island had been completed ahead of schedule, cheers and a little laughter greeted some of the first motorists to cross a temporary bridge built to restore land access to the island, which bore the brunt of Hurricane Ian. Work on the bridge began on October 3 and was completed in less than three days, according to an FDOT statement issued from Tallahassee by DeSantis and FDOT Secretary Jared W. Perdue.
“Within 24 hours after I asked FDOT to get involved, we had more than 130 trucks rolling in and crews got to work,” DeSantis said in the statement. “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.” The bridge is not yet open to the public, but emergency vehicles and first responders will have priority access, according to Michael Williams, FDOT deputy communications director, in an email to the Miami Herald. Williams did not say when the bridge would be open to the island’s 9,000 residents, many of whom fled before Ian and have been waiting to see how their homes fared.
A police car and a Publix truck carrying supplies to help a community cut off from civilization were among the first to cross the water on wheels, as seen in a video posted Oct. 5 by Brandon Lynaugh on a closed Pine Island Facebook page. When Hurricane Ian made landfall on Cayo Costa, an island just across Pine Island Sound, on Sept. 28, the storm surge and Category 4 winds washed out roads and isolated residents who rode out the storm on the 18-mile, mangrove-wrapped Pine Island.