Our last blog post for awhile ….
To all those who love our little corner of the world,
Hurricane Ian came at Sanibel and Captiva Islands with catastrophic 155 mph winds and an 8-12 foot storm surge, on its way to making landfall on North Captiva, just miles away from Ocean’s Reach.
We thank you for the countless emails and social media messages you have sent. I am writing this 200 miles east of Sanibel, where I have evacuated and have access to electricity and internet, to provide you with the best update I can at this moment.
Sanibel took a devastating hit from Hurricane Ian yesterday, whose wrath continued through to Fort Myers, Punta Gorda and other areas of Southwest Florida on its way to the east coast of the state.
By the time you read this, there will undoubtedly be drone images and other videos showing the extent of the damage. As of right now, though, I can only say that all of our lives and our island have been forever changed.
The initial forecast for this hurricane was targeting Tampa – very “déjà vu” if you remember Hurricane Charley in 2004 – and it was only in the latter part of its approach did meteorologists realize that the hurricane would hit much more southernly than originally expected. By the time it was off our shores, it was a Category 5 for a short time, making landfall as a Category 4 major hurricane.
The damage is expected to be calamitous. At dawn’s early light, it was discovered that large pieces of the Sanibel Causeway had washed away, and the road leading to the toll bridge had buckled like an accordion and is impassable.
That will make recovery efforts – already a herculean task – that much more arduous.
The City of Sanibel has commenced regular communications, highlighting the very long and methodical process ahead.
Our officials are dedicated to putting human health and safety first, so the City’s top priority at this time will be to get those of whom are stranded to safety. Not everyone evacuated the island, due to the inconsistent messaging mentioned above, and we all want to make sure that everyone is safe, hence the early initiation of a search and rescue effort.
Coordination efforts with state and federal government have also started taking place, ensuring that our City will have the resources it will need to meet both short-term and long-term challenges.
While we are all undoubtedly anxious to get back to our beloved islands and begin the rebuilding process, there is much to be done before any residents or business owners can re-enter the island, including: causeway inspections, the safety of all roadways, and a house-by-house, business-by-business property inspection for structural integrity or damages. Only once these actions have been completed will the City be able to potentially transition to re-entry.
Presently there is no timeframe for re-entry, as it is just not possible to estimate at such an early date. The severe flooding will make this process more challenging than any event we have encountered in the past.
With that said, Ocean’s Reach will be closed for the indefinite future.
Please give us some time to adjust to our “new normal,” and we will be in touch with you as soon as we know more.
Once our staff is back together and the lights are turned on, we’ll start with refunds, rescheduling visits, and so on. We will do as much of this “remotely” as we can.
We will also be sure to notify you of a re-opening date just as soon as it is determined.
In closing, we are heart sick and devastated, and I know, personally, I’m struggling to find the words to express how I feel, especially after living through the gut-punch devastation of Hurricane Charley in 2004. This seems exponentially worse.
But I know our island. I know our staff and owners. And, just like 18 years ago, I know that the resilience of our island community will prove to be so much stronger than Ian.