Fort Myers Beach is Alive and Well after Hurricane Irma
By Kelly Dean
Although Hurricane Irma’s destruction is widespread, from the Keys to Tampa, it is also eclectic. Some areas suffer more flood damage, while others suffer downed trees and power lines due to wind. A direct hit is bad, but there are also outer rainbands in a hurricane, carrying high winds, flood water and often tornadoes.
So with season approaching next month, I think I’ll take a short trip to Fort Myers Beach and see if it is recovering in time for tourists to arrive.
I can report that all seems well around the Estero Island community.Fort Myers Beach is not in the direct path of Irma’s eye wall, the actual path is closer to Hwy. 41 coming up from Naples. For this reason, those communities take more damage than coastal Fort Myers Beach. Fort Myers Beach is within a few miles though, so it receives its fair share of winds. Damage is visible, but it is largely associated with downed trees and piles of debris, yet to be removed. But this is less evident on the beach than Fort Myers (city) itself, which lines up with Hwy. 41 and Irma’s recent path. Nevertheless, I am wondering about heavy rain runoff from Lake Okeechobee, from which the Corps of Engineers releases water down the Caloosahatchee River to alleviate pressure on the dike. When this happens, the water flowing from “Lake O” can vary from copper-colored to a nasty, green goo, caused by smelly and toxic blue-green algae. I am happy to report the water is clear and has no discoloration at all on this day. At Fort Myers Beach, plenty of people are enjoying the cool breeze, pleasant walks, seagulls, sand and plenty of sunshine as we head deeper into fall. People are swimming and smiles are abundant among visitors both on the beach and at local establishments. I will have to go looking for damage to find it, evidently.
That said, other hard hit communities are still recovering. There is considerable flood damage and reports of roadside debris piles in Immokalee, Bonita Springs, and Lehigh due to overwhelmed pickup crews. Some rural communities are still clearing debris as well. In Lee County, one remaining shelter is still housing evacuees and is just now closing.
And of course, the lower-mid Keys are still recovering from high winds and 6-foot storm surges. But even with these communities, I don’t see it being a problem for long.It is a good day at Fort Myers Beach, just like it should be. I am shocked at how fast Floridians recover and Fort Myers Beach is just an example.