Official street signs return to Fort Myers Beach; handmade ones kept as mementos

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Fort Myers Beach is still recovering from Hurricane Ian – a storm that destroyed so much along its path, including the island’s street signs.

That’s why back in March, locals made their own street signs to help drivers and first responders find their way around the area after the storm.

“It was so difficult driving down the roads, and so many landmarks were missing,” San Carlos Island resident Joanne Semmer said, “so the signs are very, very important.”

Signs that, Semmer said, brought life to an area that needed something good.

“It gave us a sense of hope, community, you know. The community was getting together, and they were making these signs,” she said, “so they were proud of their community and their streets, and their neighborhoods.”

But now, the Florida Department of Transportation has replaced most – if not all – of these homemade signs, bringing along a new wave of recovery for the island.

“Just one more step in the process of recovery, that’s for sure,” Fort Myers Beach Town Mayor Dan Allers said. “Every little bit helps, even the small things like that. Some people see it as a small thing, and some people see it as a big, great thing, just one more step in the right direction.”

But Allers said these signs are special to islanders, and for Joanne Semmer, she said it gave her comfort after Ian.

“Well, it made you feel good because you knew you could recognize areas, and you knew that people that you cared about were OK,” she said.

People who lived on Pearl Street, Andre Mar and St. Peters Drive.

Friends, family and landmarks that will now forever be remembered at the Estero Island Historic Society.

“We’ve lost so much in the hurricane, so now we’re gathering new treasures that we can share with the community,” Semmer said.

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