3 To Know: Ian will rank as second largest insured loss in history, more

Marco Eagle
Visitors to Times Square on Fort Myers Beach visit the Poinsettia tree that was put up by the Town of Fort Myers Beach on Dec. 1. The area was decimated by Hurricane Ian so it was unknown if the tree would tree would go back up. One flower was placed at the site near Thanksgiving which in turn prompted members of the community to place more flowers at the site. Once the tree was built, the remaining flowers were placed on surrounding traffic barriers.

1. Analysis: Ian will rank as second largest insured loss in history

Ian will rank as the second-largest insured loss in world history, behind 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, according to a new analysis by reinsurer Swiss Re Group that is putting the number at up to $65 billion.

At the forefront for Fort Myers Beach: 2.5 million cubic yards of debris, well more than the 1.95 million the entire Lee County had after Hurricane Irma’s slamming in 2017 and more than New York City’s two million after 2012’s Hurricane Sandy. The Beach has enough to fill the Empire State Building almost twice.

Under 25% of that amount had been collected by the end of November, nine weeks after Ian’s demolishing.

That mountain isn’t lost on residents in conversations, public meetings and social media, like Debi Clark Szekely, who helps run the “I love Fort Myers Beach” Facebook page.

“There is just so much debris. There isn’t enough hours in the day, and trucks on the street,” Szekely said Thanksgiving weekend. “I’ve been waiting for my entire house, which is a giant debris pile since it was completely destroyed, to be hauled away, (along) with 12 other houses on my street that were all leveled to the ground.” – Phil Fernandez/Staff

Now You Know: Exhibition draws from the heart of Latin America’s pottery-making cultures

SWFLA To Do List: Carmen Morales comedy, M.C. Escher art, more

2. Immokalee woman, 62, dies after car strikes her along Little League Road, FHP says

A 62-year-old Immokalee woman died Monday evening when a car struck her in Immokalee.

The crash happened shortly before 7:15 p.m. Monday along Little League Road, near America Way, according to an incident report from the Florida Highway Patrol, while the pedestrian stood on Little League Road, facing east on the roadway.

The car’s front left side collided with the pedestrian, who died at the scene.

The driver, a 22-year-old Immokalee man, didn’t suffer any injuries, troopers said.

Troopers continue to investigate the crash.

The crash is at least the 38th of the year on Collier County roads, Florida Highway Patrol records indicate. – Tomas Rodriguez/Staff

3 To Do: Christmas Island Style events, Bonita festival, more

‘Watts for Dinner’: Sip and shop at the new Pours at Publix

3. Toxic red tide algae still thriving along Southwest coast, mostly in Sarasota, Marco waters

A ghostly red tide that’s lurked along the Southwest Florida shoreline for more than a month is showing signs of strengthening in the Sarasota and Marco Island areas. 

The latest Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports show red tide (Karenia brevis) counts of 1 million cells per liter and higher along Sarasota and Collier counties, with slightly lower but still toxic levels reported in Lee. 

File: A ruddy turnstone feeds on a dead fish in the south end of Fort Myers Beach. Red tide is present in Southwest Florida waters.

Larry Brand, a University of Miami researcher and professor and red tide expert, said he expects the situation will play out like it did in 2017 and 2018, years that were dominated by a large hurricane flushing massive nutrients loads to the coast followed by a toxic red tide algae bloom. 

“My best guess is it’s going to continue with all those nutrients,” Brand said. “It’s similar to what happened with (Hurricane) Irma.”

Fish kills are being reported at Sanibel, St. James City, Cayo Costa State Park, Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach in recent weeks. 

Even larger fish kills have been reported in the Naples area in the past few days, according to FWC records. 

Most of the species reported so far have been catfish or mullet, but some prized gamefish (like snook and Goliath grouper) have washed up on local beaches as well. 

Some local advocacy groups and residents are concerned that the region is in for another crippling red tide phase, the likes of which happened from the fall of 2017 until the spring of 2019. 

Red tides typically initiate in the late summer to early fall, so the timing of this bloom is not abnormal. The intensities, however, are on the strong side. 

Marine mammal and fish kills can happen when levels reach 100,000 cells per liter, or even less. The levels at which humans start to feel the neurotoxins in their respiratory system varies from person to person. – Chad Gillis/Staff