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Hurricane Ian Update


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.




40 thoughts on “Hurricane Ian Update

  1. Thank you so much for the update. Although I only have two visits to Ocean’s Reach under my belt, I have loved getting your daily messages and was on tenterhooks waiting for news. As you go through this long, difficult process of rebuilding, remember how many of us there are all over the country and beyond who care about you.

  2. We were lucky to enjoy Oceans Reach one month ago, and are in shock at what has happened to the Island. We will be praying for all of Sanibel and Florida. John and Georgia DeRose

  3. It is with a heavy heart that I will have to say good bye to the island that brought my husband and I so much pleasure. From shelling to biking to eating we enjoyed it all. We can only wish you the best of luck with the reconstruction and prayers that few lives were lost. Please know if there is anything we can do to help we will. Take care and God bless.

  4. Our hearts go out to all of you as you and the island recover from this devastating hurricane. Please know that, when you get back to normal, we’ll be back. We love Sanibel and will miss being there and seeing your smiling faces. Take good care and we’ll see you when we can.

  5. I sincerely hope every employee from Ocean Reach is safe. Take care of your families and homes.
    We all will be back to OR when it reopens. Prayers.

  6. It is with deep sadness that we send this email to the island of Sanibel as we saw the devastation it endured. For the past several years we have vacationed at Ocean’s Reach. It is such a beautiful place where we always feel safe and welcomed. We were looking forward to our vacation there in 2023. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Sanibel and the employees of Ocean’s Reach.
    Be safe.

    The Farlow’s

  7. As frequent visitors to Ocean’s Reach we are heartbroken to see the devastation the whole of Southwest Florida has sustained. We have been visiting since before Hurricane Charley and every since. Although we live right up the road in Jacksonville, we liken Sanibel as a second home! Our thoughts are with everyone in the region as we will wait patiently for our chance to return to Sanibel.

  8. My heart breaks for the people and wildlife of Sanibel and Captiva. I pray that GOD will give you all the strength and endurance to get through the horrible devastation and that one day we all will be able to stroll the beautiful beaches again.

  9. We are devastated for all of you and our beloved Sanibel. After Covid, we were so looking forward to returning for the month of January. Please know that many are feeling your pain and wishing we could give hugs.

  10. The tears come frequently when we think of all our friends at Oceans Reach and your beautiful island. We want to keep in touch with all of you and know that our prayers always include you and your families.
    We were spared on the east coast of Florida but our thoughts and prayers are with you all. Our doors are open to you anytime and we hope there is something we can do in the future to lessen your burden and bring your beautiful smiles back.
    Love, hugs and prayers,
    Penny, Faye and Andy

  11. I’m so sad about the devastating damage done your beautiful island and especially to Oceans Reach. All of you are in my thoughts and prayers. Hopefully we can all be to together again at my destination. God bless you all. 🙏

  12. I am so sad to hear about and see the devastation of Sanibel Island. Thank you for communicating with us. So many of us have loved Ocean’s Reach and it’s staff and facilities. We look forward to returning in the future. We offer our support to all of you as you and all of us grieve for the destruction suffered by Sanibel and Ocean’s Reach.

  13. We are so sorry for what troubles have come to your doorstep. One day a time for now and you will all get thru this. Let us know when reservations start back up as we would love to come back and help bring our business back to your area.

    Stay strong and keep your heads up.

  14. My heart and prayers go out to all of Sanibel and it’s residents. But especially to the community at Ocean Reach. So many memories from the 1970’s with family on the beach, good times. 🥰 you will return better and know that 🙏🏼‘S will support you.

  15. After visiting the beautiful Island , and more specifically Ocean’s Reach, just last week, my family and I are just heartsick to see pictures of the devastation left behind this horrible storm! We cannot even being to imagine the huge undertaking of cleaning up after such a wrath. Please know that you all are in our daily prayers, and we hope to be able to visit next September! God bless the staff of Ocean’s Reach, the folks of Sanibel and Capitva Islands and all others affected by this tragedy.
    1Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you”.

  16. May God bless all with healing and strength for restoration. I have visited Sanibel since the 60’s … we will be back! In the meantime, please consider posting any ways we can help from afar.

  17. After having enjoyed a beautiful vacation in your complex a couple of years ago, and enjoying your postings since that time, our heart goes out to you all. You are in our prayers! My husband and I are Rotarians, and will be getting updates on your area through the local Club. We will be offering support!!

  18. Bless all of you. Joy comes in the morning, it is just going to be a really long night. Prayers are being lifted, we love Ocean’s Reach and Sanibel but can’t begin to imagine the agony of those who own businesses or homes on the Island. We are holding space for Sanibel and patiently waiting for the “night” to end so that you will experience the “joy” that comes in the morning.

  19. We are so devastated that Sanibel and Captiva are so damaged by hurricane Ian. We left there on September 23rd after enjoying one of the most wonderful vacations. Our prayers are with all the people of Florida.

  20. My heart is with you all. Good luck with the crazy nearly impossible task ahead. It will all work out. Just take it one day at a time.

  21. I am grateful you all are safe! It’s heartbreaking to read about our beloved island. It will be a long time before we see you again but you are in our hearts, memories and prayers forever. Please take care and know how much you are loved!🙏🏼

  22. It is truly heartbreaking to see what’s happened to this unique and beautiful place, which has had a continuous place in our hearts for a number of years now. Upon spotting the damage at Ocean’s Reach in an aerial report from WPLG yesterday, I was unable to hold back the tears–I guess I hadn’t realized how much our annual trips had come to mean to me before that. Good Luck and Godspeed to the truly wonderful, dedicated staff at the property as you work through what will surely be a long, difficult task, and we will anxiously await the day we can cross the causeway, eat lunch at Gramma Dot’s, and once again head to the office at Ocean’s Reach. It is truly a special place.

  23. Ocean’s Reach Family,

    Thank you for the update. Please know you, everyone in Sanibel, and the beautiful island itself are in our thoughts and prayers. We support you with our love and with our finances in the tough days ahead. Our hearts are breaking for the special island we cherish so dearly.

    God’s blessings,
    Charlie Dwayne Harris
    Cynthia Annell Harris
    Kelsey Tzobanakis

  24. We are devastated by this news our hearts go out to you all!! We will be back to Oceans Reach as soon as we get the green light… You are all in our prayers

  25. Janet and are heart sick along with you!!!!! Our prayers reach out to all the employees and owners of Ocean’s Reach as will ad those on the rest of our precious Island!!!
    With broken hearts Pat & Janet

  26. My wife and I are devastated as we see more pictures and videos of the destruction left in Hurricane Ian’s path. We are holding our breath as rescue workers continue to search for people who stayed through the storm – clearly the #1 concern today for all of us. Based on the aerial photos of the damage we saw at Ocean’s Reach and considering the upcoming demand for construction services all across Florida, I would imagine it will likely be a year or years before guests will able to visit again. But whenever that day comes, we’ll return.

  27. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and all the people and businesses of Sanibel & Captiva. We love your community and our stays there. Look forward to visiting again.

  28. So many love Oceans Reach and appreciate so much the people and places that have given us sweet memories. We are absolutely praying for you all.
    Gerry Roller

  29. My wife and I have vacationed at Ocean’s Reach for many consecutive years, except during the Covid-19 pre-vaccination period. We’ve always thoroughly enjoyed our time there. Our thoughts, hearts, and prayers go out for all the staff and owners at Oceans Reach, as well as business owners we have patronized, as well as all the residents of Southwest Florida. Godspeed for a relatively painless recovery and restoration.

  30. Please know that our hearts are broken for Oceans Reach as well. We’ve seen the aerial views of Oceans Reach and just can’t believe what damage has been done. We are glad the staff is well and safe. We will return to our happy place when you can reopen. You’ve taken such good care of us in the many years we have been coming to stay with you and can’t wait to get back when you reopen. Bless you all.
    Bill and Bonnie Harper Baltimore. MD

  31. Our hearts are breaking as we begin to see the total devastation of our beloved Sanibel Island and Oceans Reach. Having vacationed here on the island for more than 25 years, we are truly shocked at the photos we are seeing. Our recent memories of just spending our vacation there over Labor Day week, and those countless other visits, will sustain us until we can drive over the bridge and enter paradise once again. We are praying for all of you and all your staff. Stay strong Sanibel and Ocean’s Reach. We are with you.

  32. I’m so sad and so sorry for this unexpected event that has affected so many. My thoughts and prayers are with you all…. I loved the times I had at Sanibel, a real vacation that I had never known before. Spoken from a lifelong resident of Libertyville Illinois…

  33. We waited until the evacuation notice but should have left sooner . So many places were already booked and when we did find a place it was lights out for over 24 hours . However that does not compare to what is going on with Oceans Reach and the Island . My heart aches for you all . Be safe .

  34. You are in our thoughts & prayers. As we watch the coverage from our Indiana home, our hearts are breaking for our Sanibel “home”. Oceans Reach has become a very special place for us. The devastation we have seen to your beautiful island has left us speechless. We’ve shed a lot of tears the past few days but we know that you will rise again,. We’ve witnessed not only the natural beauty of your island, but also the beauty of your community of people that make Sanibel our favorite place to be. God bless each one of you. We look forward to the day we can visit with you again.

  35. We have stayed at Oceans Reach twice and watched in horror as your sweet place took a direct hit. We’ve seen the satellite pictures of destruction. Please know our thoughts and prayers are with you.
    Scott and Pat Meyer

  36. I am crying reading this. So heartbroken that our beautiful Sanibel and residents have had this happen again. We have been coming back since our honeymoon almost every year with our children and grandchildren and this November was to be our 40th anniversary celebration there. Please know that our hearts and prayers are with you all.
    We love you all and we will see you again! God bless, Tim & Teresa Coons

  37. With a broken heart, I watched the aftermath of Ian, saw the photos. In disbelief, as if I were dreaming, I realized this storm was more than any of us imagined. But this I know – God can make beauty from ashes! I’m praying that the events we witnessed will be overshadowed by God’s grace and mercy for our little bit of paradise. I will come to visit again – as soon as we’re given the all clear! In the meantime, I pray for our island, I pray for the residents and the animals that call this place home. I will pray that the work is done quickly, but quality is of utmost importance as we don’t want a repeat of this the next time a storm comes through. We are #SanibelStrong, #OceansReachStrong.

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