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Tent city under the bridge to Fort Myers Beach shut down

Mike Walcher
Tent city under the Matanzas Pass bridge, seen here on January 30, is no more. Authorities have moved out the campers. Some claimed they'd been at the encampment since Hurricane Ian destroyed their homes last fall.

Tent city on the road to Fort Myers Beach is no more.

Authorities have moved out at least a dozen people who'd been living under the Matanzas Pass bridge to the beach.

Most of the people were living in tents or small campers. WGCU News interviewed some of the campers a few weeks ago. They said they became homeless after Hurricane Ian destroyed their homes, apartments or live-aboard boats. A few claimed they'd been at the encampment since October.

The Florida Department of Transportation said it was not safe for the people to be living under the bridge, which is part of a state road. FDOT said there are plans to do some resurfacing work on the roadway in that area, and the people could not be there during the work.

In addition some restaurants near the tent city reopened in February and early March, and the manager and a worker at one place said the encampment could make some patrons uncomfortable.
FDOT referred other questions to the Lee County Sheriff's Office. But the head of public affairs for LCSO sent WGCU News an email, deferring all questions to FDOT.

It is not known exactly where the people have gone. However a few weeks ago some of the campers told WGCU that FEMA was working hard to find them transitional housing.

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Forty-one-year veteran of television news in markets around the country, including more than 18 years as an anchor and reporter at WINK-TV in southwest Florida.