Search and rescue operations could end this weekend on the beach in Fort Myers

LEE COUNTY

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

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

Access to the island would most likely be provided at the north end as the south end of Fort Myers Beach suffered bridge damage.

Fort Myers Beach was closed to residents as search and rescue groups returned home to search for survivors.

Cecil Pendergrass, Lee County Commissioner and Chairman of the Board, said the reason Fort Myers Beach remains without access and Sanibel is open to residents is that most Sanibel residents have been evacuated.

“The island has been cleaned up,” said Lee County Commissioner and former Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane. “There were less than 10 people here.”

This was not the case in Fort Myers Beach.

“Fort Myers Beach has had the highest number of deaths,” Lee County Executive Roger Desjarlais said. “Search and rescue teams will complete their final sweep for survivors and dead likely this weekend.”

Next week, Desjarlais said, there is a plan for condos to bring generators to the island to prevent buildings from developing mold.

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