Lisa and Keelsie helping with the extensive clean-up —
Their smiles always make our day!
Most of the debris has been picked up, with just a bit more to go
Clean-up has been going on everywhere, including our pond
A first-class pool transformation is in store
We’re in the final stages of developing a “Master Plan” to rebuild the resort
Just wait and see what this will look like in another year or so!
The intrinsic beauty of Sanibel is still here
“In the waves of change, we find out who we really are.”
At Ocean’s Reach, we’ve found that we’re a resilient and tenacious bunch, working hard to restore the tropical paradise we love, yet realistic about all that still lies ahead.
Six months after Hurricane Ian devastated Sanibel Island, there’s been a tremendous amount of progress on recovery efforts:
- Our streets are looking so much cleaner. Most of the huge debris piles that had lined island roads have now been picked up. The City of Sanibel reports that more than 17,300 truck loads of damaged furniture, appliances, and trashed household items have been hauled away. Another 16,700+ truck loads of vegetative debris are now also off the island, with that number expected to rise for months to come as work continues.
- More and more businesses have reopened. Since our last update, we’ve been delighted to welcome back Billy’s Rentals, Offshore Sailing School, Tower Gallery and Ace Hardware, along with Bleu Rendezvous French Bistro, Tutti Pazzi, and Huxters Market and Deli. Sweet Melissa’s has been demolished, but Melissa is now temporarily serving her fabulous dishes twice a week at Island Pizza, which she also owns and has reopened. In addition, a new Mexican restaurant — Rosalita’s — has opened to rave reviews.
- The Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce has debuted a new Wander Map app, an easy-to-use GPS-enabled map that pinpoints all open businesses and attractions. Guests can look up information on beaches, shopping, attractions, lodging, vacation rentals, services and off-island businesses. In partnership with Billy’s Rentals, the Wander Map app is biker friendly. Billy’s will be distributing information to bicycle renters, posting the map QR code along Sanibel’s bike paths, and keeping users apprised of any parts of the path to avoid due to debris or construction.
- Our treasured nonprofits and attractions are returning, as well. C.R.O.W. (the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife) and the Sanibel Historical Museum have joined BIG ARTS, the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum, SCCF, Sanibel Sea School and the Sanibel Public Library in welcoming back visitors. The Sanibel Community House will mark its 96th anniversary tomorrow night with a special “We’re Still Standing” celebration.
- On April 4, the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge will reopen their gates to Wildlife Drive, along with their Visitor & Education Center, the Wildlife Drive observation tower, and sections of the Indigo Trail, Wildlife Education Boardwalk and Wulfert Key Trail. Fishing and paddlecraft-launching spots on the drive will also open, and narrated tram tours will start again (Tuesdays and Thursdays only, for now). For exact times and reservations, visit tarponbayexplorers.com.
- Last, but not least, we’re delighted to share the return of our battered-but-beloved beaches! Bowman’s Beach, Blind Pass, and Tarpon Bay Beach are now all officially open, as is Gulf Side City Park, right next to Ocean’s Reach, which now features new picnic tables and grills, a new walkway to the beach including wheelchair access, and nice restroom facilities.
Yet even as places are reopening, reminders of Ian’s visit are still everywhere. There remain heartbreaking examples throughout the island of the destruction caused by the hurricane’s powerful winds and storm surge. Not all of our island favorites will return. Many are rebuilding, however, and will come back stronger and better than ever.
We will be including Ocean’s Reach in that latter category! Along with other beachfront properties which were hardest hit, we know it will take longer to rebuild, but we’re determined to return.
As Andy and Lisa report, “An awful lot of backroom work has been completed,” referring to nonstop meetings with owners, board members, insurance adjusters, remediation experts, structural engineers, demolition ninjas, roofing companies and a long list of other vendors who will help rebuild the resort. As with homeowners around the island, insurance claims and permit approvals are key issues at the moment. In the meantime, necessary demo work has been completed, the grounds have been cleared, units are in various stages of tear-out, and we’re working on finalizing a “master plan” for the full complex. We do not yet have a re-opening date to announce as there are still too many variables to sort out, but we’ll let you know as soon as we can (be sure to subscribe to our blog for the latest news).
Six months ago, the fury of Hurricane Ian caused Sanibel’s roadways to buckle, trees to topple, and boats and cars to be tossed around. The unprecedented storm surge destroyed countless homes and loved possessions. The damage was catastrophic, “bomb like” and almost beyond comprehension.
Six months later, we’re so grateful to be able to tell a different type of story. Islanders are working diligently to restore our cherished community. New signs of progress are being seen every day. And Mother Nature’s doing her part, too: wildflowers are growing; birds are nesting, and glistening sands are once again decorating our shoreline.
While much has changed, the essence of Sanibel’s incomparable beauty still abounds. As it always has. And we hope always will.