A few Fort Myers gas stations opened by Interstate 75 Monday afternoon and were quickly swamped with customers. A woman in a baggy purple shirt sitting outside a Marathon on Colonial Boulevard shouted “no fuel" as cars lined up at fueling stations regardless.
Going into the store revealed a scarce selection of food, drinks and beer. A line of 30 cars gradually lengthened behind a Racetrac on Colonial Boulevard. A 7-Eleven limited the number of customers who could come enter the store, prompting a line of 40 people. When asked what they were looking to buy, most bluntly stated “cigarettes.”
One of those waiting customers was Nikki Belmonte, 34, who said her front yard in Lehigh Acres “looked like a lake” after Irma hit. Though her yard had returned to normal later that day, she said Lehigh was “flooded everywhere.”
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Rob Cochran, 37, said the power had gone out long ago at his home in Lehigh and — in addition to cigarettes — he really wanted a cold drink. That was also the thought of Tiffany Davis, 39, of Fort Myers, who said a “cold coke and a Rockstar energy drink” was worth the 30 minutes she had already spent waiting in line.
“I went through those staying up with three small grandchildren during the hurricane,” Davis said, adding that the children were 5, 2 and a year old.
Dozens of business signs were ripped from the buildings in nearby Cape Coral, trees uprooted and street lights nonfunctional Monday.
Irma’s path was visible from I-75 around Bonita Springs, where a soccer field resembled a small pond if not for the submerged bleachers and goal posts. The streets of nearby neighborhoods also had significant flooding that could be seen from the highway.