FDLE reflects on impact of Hurricane Ian on its one-year anniversary

For Immediate Release
September 28, 2023

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. – The Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s (FDLE) Regional Law Enforcement Coordination Teams (RLECTs) in Fort Myers, Tampa Bay, Orlando, Jacksonville, and Miami regions, the Sworn Training Unit (STU), and FDLE members from across the state were among those who worked tirelessly for weeks ahead of, and following Hurricane Ian’s landfall in southwest Florida on September 28, 2022. 

The RLECT and State EOC ESF-16, which is led by FDLE’s Mutual Aid members, coordinated approximately 276 law enforcement missions. The emergency response teams were deployed by FDLE to the impacted areas, predominately in Lee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties. More than 100 FDLE members were on the ground helping in the recovery efforts.

Members coordinated local, state, and federal law enforcement personnel throughout the region to assist in search, recovery, traffic control, and security missions. Fort Myers Regional Operations Center (FMROC) members stayed at the Fort Myers building to continue to work investigations, ensure the forensic evidence and casework was secure, support the criminal justice partners, and ensure that the region’s citizens and visitors were safe, even when their homes sustained damage from the storm.

These members deployed away from their homes to provide aid in an area with no running water and no power. They established large first responder base camps which offered beds, showers, laundry and meals for hundreds of first responder colleagues.

The FMROC RLECT, which was honored during FDLE’s 2023 Annual Awards as Distinguished Team of the Year, worked long hours and endured difficult and stressful situations.  In addition to assisting the community with mission critical tasks, RLECT members slept in the office building during Hurricane Ian’s landfall, sleeping on cots and in sleeping bags through howling winds, torrential downpours, air conditioning units flying off the roof, and the possibility of the building flooding.

FDLE’s STU team members helped support law enforcement members who were unable to take care of their own homes or families while being deployed. The team includes members from headquarters and Jacksonville and Orlando regions. During STU’s deployment, they tarped roofs, removed debris, and cleared trees and pathways to homes.

One year later, and southwest Florida is still rebuilding. One of the hardest hit areas was Fort Myers Beach. The storm leveled some areas.  

FDLE Fort Myers Special Agent in Charge Eli Lawson and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Tracy Maurer explored Fort Myers Beach just before the one-year anniversary of Ian. Lawson commended the community’s perseverance. “Clearly the devastation is still being felt, but we celebrate the resiliency of this community. Buildings are coming back, businesses are coming back, and tourists are coming back. We have a long way to go, but we’re getting there day by day,” he said.

Maurer has hope for the community. “We know that Fort Myers Beach and the other impacted regions that were hit by Hurricane Ian will come back strong and bring Southwest Florida back to the beautiful place and destination that it has always been,” she said.

See FDLE’s Hurricane Ian one-year anniversary tribute here:  

For Further Information Contact:
FDLE Office of Public Information  
(850) 410-7001


Florida Department of Law Enforcement Priorities

FDLE is composed of five areas: Executive Direction and Business Support, Criminal Investigations and Forensic Science, Criminal Justice Information, Criminal Justice Professionalism and Florida Capitol Police. FDLE’s duties, responsibilities and procedures are mandated through Chapter 943, FS, and Chapter 11, FAC. To learn more about these areas, read our Statement of Agency Organization and Operation or visit our Open Government page.