Haunting aerial images show Hurricane Ian's aftermath in Fort Myers, Sanibel Island

Ian's devastation came into focus a day after making landfall in Florida as one of the strongest hurricanes ever to hit the U.S.

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Thursday, September 29, 2022
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Chopper flies over Sanibel, Florida, after Hurricane Ian moves out.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Ian's devastation began to come into focus a day after making landfall in Florida as one of the strongest hurricanes ever to hit the U.S.

Click here for live radar and the latest forecast on Ian's path.

The storm flooded homes on both the state's coasts, cut off the only bridge to a barrier island, destroyed a historic waterfront pier and knocked out electricity to 2.67 million Florida homes and businesses. The death toll continues to rise.

Images from the Fort Myers area, a few miles west of where Ian struck land, showed homes ripped from their slabs and deposited among shredded wreckage. Businesses near the beach were completely razed, leaving just twisted debris. Broken docks floated at odd angles beside damaged boats, and fires smoldered on lots where houses once stood.

A chunk of the Sanibel Causeway fell into the sea, cutting off access to the barrier island where 6,300 people live. It was unknown how many heeded orders to evacuate, but Charlotte County Emergency Management Director Patrick Fuller expressed cautious optimism.

The aerial photos below capture the devastation from this monstrous Category 4 storm:

Fort Myers Beach

Damaged and missing homes are seen in the wake of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla.
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
People walk along the beach past a damaged home in the wake of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla.
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
Damaged boats and structures are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla.
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
Smoldering homes are seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers Beach. Fla.
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
The remnant of a pier is seen in the wake of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla.
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
Commercial businesses are seen in the wake of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla.
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
Damaged homes and debris are shown in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla.
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
Damaged boats are seen in the wake of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla.
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Fort Myers

Damaged homes and debris are shown in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers, Fla.
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
In this aerial photo, damaged boats and debris are stacked along the shore in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers, Fla.
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
This aerial photo shows damaged homes and debris in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers, Fla.
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
This aerial photo shows damaged homes and debris in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers, Fla.
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
Damaged structures are seen in the wake of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers Beach, Fla.
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
Damages boats lie on the land and water in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers, Fla.
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Sanibel Island

A military helicopter sits down on Sanibel Island in the wake of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fla.
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
A damaged causeway to Sanibel Island is seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, near Sanibel Island, Fla.
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
A section of the damaged Sanibel Causeway seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, near Sanibel Island, Fla.
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
Livestock move in a flooded field in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, on Sanibel Island, Fla.
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
The Sanibel Island lighthouse is seen after Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, on Sanibel Island, Fla.
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

The Associated Press contributed to this report.