Downtown Fort Myers, like other areas of Southwest Florida, was experiencing a catastrophic storm surge when Ian came ashore.
The Caloosahatchee rose nearly 20 feet and flooded downtown businesses. Nearby houses were filled with water.
Almost a week later, the sidewalks are still littered with trash.
Piles of rubble remain in front of storefronts on First Street. The lights are off in the shops and there are no signs of what will happen.
The few businesses that are open are closed.
A small Italian eatery, Bruno’s of Brooklyn has been a sweet spot for many, serving hot pasta dishes to anyone who needs a plate.
Many others are trying to fill the void left by businesses that remain closed.
The Luminary Hotel, which has lost the “U” from Ian, will begin housing emergency services.
“We found our U,” Joe Collier told WINK News.
It was in the water of the reservoir, which is located next to the hotel.
Collier, the owner of Luminary, joked that they were thinking of using it as a slogan.
The mystery is solved. That’s where U was.
Joe Collier, owner of Luminary and Co., spoke with me today because his hotel hosts emergency responders from all over the world.
— Annette Montgomery (@AnnettemTV) October 4, 2022
“The hotel is open; all we need is a U,” Collier said.
The hotel will also serve as Gov. Ron DeSantis’ command center. DeSantis has held daily news conferences, often multiple times a day, since Ian hit Florida.
While emergency services will move into Luminary, it’s unclear how long it will take Fort Myers to fully rebuild its downtown.
Elsewhere in Fort Myers, the city told residents that its golf courses will be closed until further notice.
“For your safety, please do not enter the ground,” the city said in a Facebook post.