Downtown Fort Myers businesses overcoming obstacles in Ian recovery

Reporter: Elizabeth Biro Writer: Paul Dolan
Downtown Fort Myers still has rubble, debris and boats lining its sidewalks. (CREDIT: WINK News)

These are tough times for a popular spot where you can grab anything from a slice of pizza to a scoop of ice cream and even a cigar.

Hurricane Ian definitely took its toll on downtown Fort Myers.

But businesses there are wasting no time with their recovery efforts.

As Southwest Florida rebuilds, contractors and construction workers have been in the area working around the clock to help businesses get back to where they used to be.

Devin Johnson is one of those men, he is the project manager with flood zone disaster recovery services.

On Wednesday he was at First Street Restaurant and Bar.

“First Street restaurant and bar and every other business here on First Street did get flood damage from Hurricane. So flood water came in, up six or eight inches, we had to remove the damaged material,” Johnson said. “This category three, water brings a lot of other things in with it. So taking the material out, make sure it’s a very safe and healthy environment.”

While Johnson’s job will be done on Wednesday, he said the work to fix all the damage from Ian won’t be done for a while.

“Each project is very short time to be honest with the restoration end of it, we get in, we clean it up, we dry it out right away. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of businesses that haven’t been looked at yet,” Johnson said. “So there’s some other problems developing. As the water sits in the building, it’s going to lead to more and more damage.”

Johnson told WINK News, the biggest obstacle for rebuilding and cleaning the buildings will be content storage. That’s because even though we are only two weeks past Ian, that storage is hard to come by.

“You obviously have to get all the equipment out to deal with the construction site inside. And then material, all those things have to be cleaned before being brought back in,” Johnson said.

And if that wasn’t enough, there is more.

“We probably do have some supply chain issues. That could be affecting people for a while, but hopefully everyone will be able to get back on their feet as fast as possible,” Johnson said.

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