In some areas of southwest Florida, Hurricane Ian left barely a trace of what once stood before. Homes along the coast were reduced to splinters, with only faint hints of their foundations visible. From above, a bridge appeared erased by a violent brushstroke of sand, water and debris. The coastline is scarred with deep gashes of sand.
Aerial imagery from Thursday revealed the extent of devastation from Fort Myers Beach to Punta Gorda and Sanibel Island. The photos were taken by Nearmap, an aerial imagery company that uses a camera system attached to planes.
The coastal community of Fort Myers Beach absorbed a direct hit from Ian as it made landfall. Beachfront homes were blown apart by winds exceeding 100 miles per hour.
A section of the Sanibel Island Causeway was completely destroyed, isolating the barrier island from the mainland. Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Thursday that the bridge would require a “structural rebuild.”
On Sanibel Island, which had extensive flooding, neighborhoods were gutted, leaving little more than shells of several homes. Sand coated streets, and swimming pools were filled with dark gray water.
In Punta Gorda, structures that were rebuilt after Hurricane Charley in 2004 seemed to have fared better, with houses still standing among a smattering of debris.
Fort Myers Beach, a barrier island, was one of the hardest-hit areas. Storm surges nearly reached the roofs of some houses and many buildings were washed away.