Watch: Dancing cop lifts spirits in Fla. community hit hard by Hurricane Ian

The video of Deputy Carl Elie on Facebook dancing while directing traffic has been seen more than 85,000 times


Madeleine List
The Charlotte Observer

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — A traffic cop, dressed in a reflective yellow vest, wriggles his shoulders and waves his arms before leaping into the air and clicking his heels together as vehicles drive by, a viral Florida video shows.

The cop, Deputy Carl Elie of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, directs traffic with dance moves and a smile in a community that was recently devastated by Hurricane Ian.

The video of him on Facebook dancing while directing traffic at the corner of San Carlos Boulevard and Pine Ridge Road in Fort Myers Beach has been seen more than 85,000 times.

Ian made landfall as a Category 4 storm on Cayo Costa, a barrier island off the coast of Lee County, which is about 165 miles northwest of Miami, on Sept. 28. The storm ravaged much of the area around Tampa Bay, and large sections of cities, including Fort Myers and Punta Gorda, were damaged by heavy winds and flooding.

A causeway leading from Fort Myers to Sanibel Island collapsed, and homes and buildings across the region were destroyed. At one point, nearly all of Lee County lost power, and since the storm hit Florida, at least 119 people have been reported dead in the state due to hurricane-related causes.

Fort Myers Beach is considered one of the worst hurricane-impact sites in the continental U.S., according to the Fort Myers News-Press.

“There is not a single structure on Fort Myers Beach that has not been impacted by this catastrophic event,” Ron Martin, fire control district chief for Fort Myers Beach, told the outlet. “Every single structure is considered unsafe until they are inspected, and that inspection is verified.”

But despite the devastation around him, Elie is keeping his spirits high.

“It is with pride and joy that I serve the people of Lee County and the surrounding areas!” Elie wrote in a Facebook post. “With the damage that has ensued from Hurricane Ian, so many people are distraught and hopeless, so I made it my personal duty to go the extra mile to brighten anyone’s day and helping to do the same for others.”

His efforts to lift the spirits of people around him appear to be paying off.

“Seems he loves his work!!!!” one Facebook user, Christine Samples, commented on Elie’s traffic-directing video. “Just what folks need right now.”

“It’s these lighter moments that keep us all moving forward,” commented another user, Roxanne Dyer. “Thank you Deputy Carl for making me smile.”

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