January 28, 2023
A return to normalcy. Slowly, but surely.
Gradually, Sanibel is recovering from the catastrophic destruction the island experienced when Hurricane Ian hit four months ago.
At Ocean’s Reach, we are happy to report that our first residents – our osprey couple – have returned. They’re watching over the amazing clean-up that is nearing its end, as well as the essential meetings taking place daily with contractors, workmen, insurance adjustors and the like to ensure that we re-open better than ever.
A return to normalcy. Little by little.
The Sanibel Causeway has re-opened to all. Beaches are still closed, however, as several areas remain unsafe due to large amounts of dangerous debris. Crews have been clearing, raking and reshaping the beaches, but significant work remains to be done.
The City hopes to re-open the beaches at Tarpon Bay Road and Blind Pass in early February, while other beaches (along with the Fishing Pier and Boat Ramp) are going to take more time.
SCCF – the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation – is looking for volunteers to assist with the cleanup efforts on our beaches. If you’re nearby and interested in helping, click here. (Note that these efforts will be strenuous in nature and volunteers should be aware of numerous hazards, explained in detail on their website.)
In addition, the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is hosting a “Refuge Cleanup with a Ranger” every Wednesday at 9 a.m. Participants are required to pre-register and then meet for a safety briefing before traveling to the cleanup site of the week.
A return to normalcy. Bit by bit.
Ribbon cuttings have been taking place regularly for restaurants and businesses that islanders have sorely missed.
On Sanibel, the following restaurants are now open, most with limited hours and offerings: Blue Giraffe food truck; Cielo; Gramma Dot’s food truck; Huxter’s food truck; Island Pizza; Jerry’s Café; Mud Bugs; Sanibel Deli; Sanibel Grill; The Shack; Traders and Tutti Pazzi. On Captiva, dining is offered at: Cantina Captiva food truck; Captiva Island Pizza; The Green Flash; Old Captiva House and The Mucky Duck.
The Sanibel Farmer’s Market has returned to start its 15th season at its new location at Jerry’s. It will continue to operate Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through May.
The Sanibel-Captiva Chamber of Commerce is publishing a weekly update of re-opened businesses on their Facebook page. It’s wonderful to see the list growing each week, which now includes 25 retail shops, specialty stores and water excursions. The Sanibel Public Library and BIG ARTS have opened up their doors, as have The Bank of the Islands and Sanibel-Captiva Community Bank.
Several island stores have temporarily relocated to the Bell Tower Shops in Fort Myers, including Congress Jewelers, Adventures in Paradise, Bubbly Latitude, MacIntosh Books and Synergy Sanibel.
The island’s flagship store — Bailey’s — and its plaza stores, will soon be demolished to make way for a new 65,000-square-foot elevated complex, anticipated to open mid 2025. Bailey’s has reopened their Captiva Island Store and is now also selling memorabilia that survived the hurricane through their online store, which can be found here.
A return to normalcy. Recovery still very much in progress.
Progress is being seen everywhere, but it’s important to note that the island is still in serious recovery mode and will be for some time.
Debris piles still exist, although they are diminishing. Bike paths still have stacked debris waiting for pickup in many places (as the debris could contain nails, the City is discouraging people from using bike paths right now to avoid flat tires). Some areas are further ahead than others in terms of access to electricity and utilities. Internet service has been re-established, but is currently sporadic, at best. There is a curfew in place from midnight-6am. While visitors are welcome, they are asked to be respectful of all of the rebuilding efforts going on with damaged homes and businesses.
A return to normalcy. Backed by a resilient and hopeful community.
While recovery is still very much in progress, we look forward to the day when Sanibel Island will once again be flourishing.
Driving over the causeway, as different as it is these days, is still a special experience. The island is still a special community. And we can’t wait to when we’ll be able to welcome you back to the very special place that is Ocean’s Reach.