FORT MYERS, Fla. (WFLA) — Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke in Fort Myers at the Punta Rassa Condominiums. He provided an update on recovery after Hurricane Ian’s damage to the area, alongside local officials. He announced access to Sanibel Island had been resotred, despite damage to the causeway.

Specifically, DeSantis was there to talk about the damaged Sanibel Causeway, which was heavily damaged during the hurricane. The causeway was separated in three sections due to the storm’s impact.

Detailing access to another damaged area, Pine Island, was given a temporary bridge built in three days, according to DeSantis. However, he said the damage at Sanibel Island was more difficult to fix.

“At the end of the day, even though we’re in a situation where we’re working really hard on this causeway, we didn’t want to wait until we started working on this causeway to get started,” DeSantis said about restoring services on the island, talking about how personnel had been transported via air and water for work on the island.

“We were looking at ways, how can we get more trucks on the island of Sanibel as quickly as possible,” DeSantis said. “Kevin Guthrie and I had talked to the feds about getting like an amphibious landing craft, that can bring tanks and the military. And we said ‘okay we can do that,’ we can load up all of these trucks.”

While the initial expectation was to have those resources delivered this week, DeSantis said instead the temporary repairs to Sanibel Causeway that had already been completed will instead deliver a “convoy” of trucks delivering resources, able to drive onto the island Tuesday.

“This includes Lee County Electrical Cooperative, FPL, Duke, other partners, they brought in other partners, they brought in other folks from the municipal and the coops, helping massive numbers of people,” DeSantis said. “We wanted Lee County to have more lineman here anyway.”

While repairs were underway, civilian traffic would not be an option immediately. However, the governor said it would be reopened for civilian use by Oct. 21.

“That’s going to be an amazing thing to have,” DeSantis said. “We’re happy to be able to do that.”

While the governor spoke, the convoy of workers and supplies began driving to the island.

“Now, you notice, you’ve gotta go pretty slow because this is a temporary patch, but we are happy that this is being done,” the governor said. Turning to Pine Island, DeSantis said there would be 25% of the island restored by the end of the week, including the island’s center, water treatment facilities, and some grocery stores. “Next week, you’ll have the northern part.”

The governor said statewide, with the exception of barrier islands, only about 1,000 people still were without power, though work was still being completed to finish the restoration effort. He said more resources had been “brought to bear” for recovery efforts than have been used on any of the needs before, then praised First Lady Casey DeSantis’ efforts to raise relief money through the Florida Disaster Recovery Fund.

Kevin Guthrie, Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, spoke after the governor. He said the level of cooperation between state agencies had never been as high, attributing it to DeSantis’ leadership.

“It represents the massive logistical operation that the Division has implemented to ensure that the proper commodities, transportation and equipment of resources were in place to immediately respond to the impacts of this hurricane,” Guthrie said.

He pointed to the convoy of supplies now heading to Sanibel Island, laying out next steps and saying that hygiene needs for first responders and damage assessors were also included in the supplies entering the area. Fueling depots had already dispensed close to one million gallons of fuel to responders, according to Guthrie.

The FDEM director said resources were also available to help residents submit applications to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other programs for recovery needs. He said FEMA was already starting to send approval and non-approval letters to residents.

“I want everybody to understand, when FEMA sends out a non-approval letter, all they’re asking for is additional information,” Guthrie said. “You have the opportunity to provide additional information, and then have your claim approved. Do not think that just because you get a letter that says either denial, or were not approved, that that’s the end of the line.”

He said make sure to read the letter and respond with the information they’re requesting to help get your applications for relief aid approved.

Jared Perdue, Florida Dept. of Transportation Secretary spoke next, praising the work of Guthrie and DeSantis for responding to the hurricane’s impacts in Florida. He said more than 2,500 bridge inspections had been performed and crews were working to restore traffic signals, power, and other needs following Hurricane Ian.

Eric Silagy, president and CEO of Florida Power & Light spoke after, saying the recovery effort would be a long-term effort, but struck a more hopeful tone.

“If there’s one thing I know about Floridians is that we’re resilient,” Silagy said. “We know firsthand the challenges of restoring [power] on islands and the creativity it requires.” Silagy said they’d had to float supplies, trucks, and equipment with barges across Gasparilla Bay to finish restoring power to Little Gasparilla Island.

Once back on land, Silagy said they had to remove trees and debris and clear a landing spot, as well as using all terrain vehicles to transport supplies.

“Restoration, frankly, doesn’t get any more difficult than that,” Silagy said, promising to work with other power companies in the area to complete restoring power and provide support where needed, all across Florida. He thanked residents for their patience during the recovery and restoration effort. “I’m happy to announce, that on Fort Myers Beach, now that it’s safe to restore power, we have actually energized Fort Myers Beach and last night turned on our first street lights on the southern part of the island.”

Silagy said the work continued, and more will be restored as they continue, but that most buildings in the area are not ready to safely accept power yet. He thanked DeSantis for his leadership.

“Leadership in these circumstances particularly, matters. And every single time I picked up the phone, which was unfortunately frequently and called the governor and asked for help,” Silagy said. “You were there. That matters. It matters because it helps to get things done quickly and safely.”

He also thanked Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis for how the state entered storm season financially strong and with high ratings for its balance sheet, saying storm restoration wasn’t cheap and was a multibillion issue for the state.

Patronis, speaking after other power company executives detailed restoration efforts, warned out of state contractors to be careful and make sure to work “under Florida licensed contractors” or not to come to the state for work. State regulations prevent contractors from outside of Florida from working without a state-based contractor.

Additionally, Patronis said residents who are having contractors repair their homes without a Florida license would be unable to get home insurance in the state, and said they need to work with Florida contractors so the state “can protect you.”