Is the Sanibel Lighthouse gone because of Hurricane Ian?

Jasmyne Jeffery September 30, 2022
Is the Sanibel Lighthouse gone because of Hurricane Ian?
Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Residents are worried that Hurricane Ian may have toppled the historic Sanibel Lighthouse. One of the most powerful storms in recent years, the category 4 hurricane has caused serious damage.

Hurricane Ian, now downgraded to a tropical storm, has made landfall on Sanibel Island, causing devastation to the popular tourist destination. It is yet unknown how many have been injured or killed. With many well-loved and historical landmarks on Sanibel Island, many are concerned that these have been severely damaged or even lost due to the tropical storm.

Fort Myers took the brunt of the storm, with businesses and homes destroyed due to mass flooding and extreme winds. Thousands of people are now stranded on the island after the causeways to the mainland have been swept away.

Is the Sanibel Island lighthouse still standing?

FOX News and others are reporting that the historic lighthouse is still standing, but it has taken some damage.

Though FOX News reported that details of structural damage are unknown, more detailed images show that the lighthouse keeper’s house has been swept away by Hurricane Ian.

The once idyllic image, reminding so many of treasured family holidays, is replaced by the haunting new reality of devastation.

The lighthouse, built in 1884, appears to have survived the storm without major damage to the structure itself.

Other damage from Hurricane Ian

As well as the lighthouse keeper’s house, Hurricane Ian has damaged much more on Sanibel Island.

As reported by abc7, multiple aerial shots of the area show extensive damage. Images of Fort Myers Beach are of missing homes, fallen trees, and major sand displacement. Abandoned residents left their homes for safety. Boats, torn apart from the flooding, litter the beach amongst derelict structures and people’s possessions.

Some of the remains of these structures have caught alight in the aftermath of the tropical storm.

Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The pier, a staple of the island is a skeleton of what it once was. Though most of the pillars remain, the walkway has almost entirely been swept away.

On Sanibel Island, the causeways connecting residents to the mainland have been destroyed. Military helicopters have been flying in and out of the island due to inaccessibility. Governor Ron DeSantis said on Thursday morning (September 29) that the Sanibel Causeway and Pine Bridge would need to be rebuilt.

The main concern, of course, is the thousands of residents that have been rendered homeless.

The history of the Sanibel Island Lighthouse

Built in 1884, the lighthouse has survived all the storms it has faced on the East Coast. Residents believed that it would bring in business for the shut-off island as it made Sanibel easier to access for ships.

In 1946, the lighthouse suffered its first hurricane, leaving it with some erosion damage. The damage was so extensive that the decision was made to make it automated, meaning that the role of a lighthouse keeper was now redundant. It became fully automated in 1949.

Almost 30 years later, the coastguard tried to discontinue the running of the Sanibel Island Lighthouse, however, residents and mariners rallied together to keep it going. The people won and convinced the Coastguard to not go forward with the plans. 10 years after this, in 1982, residents were allowed to live for free in the development of the lighthouse, along as they helped maintain the area.

After being owned by the Coastguard, the lighthouse was given to the city of Sanibel in 2004 and they hoped to raise money for its restoration. Finally, in 2013, they had raised enough money for work to begin.

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Hello! My name is Jasmyne and I’m a soon-to-be graduate of English and Creative Writing at the University of South Wales. Originally from North Devon, I now love living in Cardiff. I’m really into my movement; an advocate for joyful movement. I spend my free time either reading, at the Wales Millennium Centre, or running around the city.