SanibelSusan is thrilled to report that the team and I made it unscathed through Hurricane Irma, as did most of Sanibel and Captiva Islands. With the storm wobbling as it headed this way, and a surge threat that would have covered the island, we were all smart enough to escape from our homes to above-ground inland locations to ride it out. Here is some post-Irma news. Sorry I missed blogging last Friday.
Post Irma on Now-Sunny Sanibel
Electricity stayed on in most Southwest Florida locations until the eye got close Sunday night. Then, by 3 p.m. on Monday, the City gave the all clear for residents to return. Son Dave and I were in line with the first few vehicles that got on island.
An amazing number of huge old trees came down. Surprisingly, most were into roadways which must have made it challenging for the City to get them cleared. Residents were not allowed back on until the bridges were inspected/found safe and all roads (public & private) passable. The sheer number of trees cut and pushed to the roadsides is astounding. I can’t say enough what a great job the City did in coordinating that effort.
Bailey’s was open by Monday late day, followed by the nearby 7-11 (which had gas), and later, Sanibel Grill. The Pecking Order remained open too. (Huge shout out to Richard Johnson at Bailey’s and his crew who had fantastic hot meals ready – breakfast, lunch, and dinner – for anyone looking for takeout.)
By Tuesday, the office had electric service back as did much of San-Cap Road and Periwinkle Way, from the school to about Island Trading Post. After that, I spent time at the “cool” office in-between checking properties and fielding phone calls and internet queries, while Dave did the same based from Ft Myers.
With the office open every day, several have taken me up on my offer of using desk space, phone, bathroom, getting a device charged, or to grab a cold water. Unfortunately, cell and internet service was and continues be sporadic if at all, but texting and Facebook have been fairly reliable (go figure).
Most island structures came through fine – a few torn screens, flyaway shingles, fascia, soffit, and siding, but not much structural damage – or at least I didn’t see any. The vegetation and tree debris are another story, I bet landscapers and yard crews will be working at it for weeks.
Another 15 electric crews arrived Wednesday night, sleeping on island. Cut and stack crews also started work Thursday, getting the many trees ready for removal beginning Monday when a large claw truck will make two rounds of the island. Cutting and bundling normally required for vegetation pick-up are not required.
Dumpsters for pitching refrigerator/freezer waste have remained open and were continually emptied at the City boat ramp and near the recycling area by City Hall. That is one yucky job.
The entire team was without electricity at their homes. Luckily one of my neighbors flew in and texted me at the office last night to say Anchor Drive had power. This morning, I heard from Elise. Hers came on late last night too. Dave and Lisa’s came on this morning. So, now we all are happy campers. Who knew doing laundry and hearing ice cubes clink would be so great. (A Facebook friend reminded me that we need to boil the water in those cubes first. Whoops!)
Making do in the heat of Florida days was challenging, particularly for the elderly, little ones, and pets. Thanks goodness for neighborhood comradery – and the temperatures dropping at night when we all “opened up”.\
The City reported last night that electricity had been restored on the east end to the Lighthouse and that West Gulf Drive also had power, except The Rocks area. Work there was scheduled to continue today. Areas along Middle Gulf Drive were up too, with Facebook posting the good news from residents in Beachview, Beach Road, Sundial, and Spanish Cay. As far west as Gulf Pines was reported to have power too, as well as The Sanctuary. An evening City update reported that power was flickering in Gumbo Limbo due to a “loading issue”, but that LCEC was “increasing size to accommodate.”
Today debris cleanup continues, plus water sampling (still on boil water), and power restoration continues.
A boil water notice had been issued for the island and water was out in several island locations. Now, all of the island has water and the boil order has been lifted for all but drinking water.
Things are coming back slowly. I drove out to The Sanctuary this morning to check one more property and the amount of tree debris already stacked roadside there is staggering. Again, I saw no property damage.
In addition to businesses offering a respite from the heat, cooling stations and spots for recharging were open at the Sanibel Recreation Center, the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, and the Center-4-Life. By Thurs, the Rec Center also was open 24 hours for sleeping and showers.
Getting gas was challenging, but the Speedway and 7-11 kept their lines moving and gas replenished as it ran out. The gal directing cars at Speedway yesterday was terrific.
There was a great joint effort yesterday at noon when Bailey’s General Store and Casa Ybel Resort joined together in the Bailey’s Center to provide a free first-class lunch to all 1st responders and contractors. The chefs from Thistle Lodge did the cooking so you know it had to be good. It’s deeds like that that make this such a great place to call home.
It was announced last night that FISH of San-Cap and the Chamber of Commerce are both open beginning today. Other good news is that South Seas Resort on Captiva which had thought it might not open until Sep 27, has updated their reopen date to Sep 20, with power on.
Unfortunately, phone (both land lines and cell) and internet service continue to be spotty. Sanibel also lost its 911 service for a period of time yesterday, but it has since been restored.
Parts of Lee County were hit much harder than here with County Commissioners yesterday declaring the county a major disaster area. A state of emergency remains in Bonita Springs. Power is coming back on slowly in many of those areas where flooding remains. Schools were scheduled to reopen on Monday, but that now has been bumped to Monday, Sep 25.
I haven’t been able to get internet service long enough to get the Multiple Listing Service Activity since our last Friday update on Sep 1, but after maybe the news article below is of interest.
Releases from Lake “O”\
According to an article in yesterday’s “News-Press”, “The Army Corps of Engineers will start releasing water from Lake Okeechobee later this week, but no water will be coming down the Caloosahatchee River, at least for now.
“Lake Okeechobee is the liquid heart of what’s left of the historic Everglades, and the lake was connected to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers in order to drain the wetlands for farming and development. The St. Lucie system will start to see water this week. The surface of the lake was 14.8’ above sea level Thursday.
““The lake has risen rapidly over the past week,” said Col. Jason Kirk, Jacksonville’s district commander. “With projected inflows, (the lake) will rise to around 17’. The outflows we will begin tomorrow morning will help stem that rise though it will not stop it. With so much of hurricane season remaining, we want to slow the rise to the extent possible so we retain storage for future events.”
“Army Corps protocols say the lake should be kept between 12.5’ and 15.5’ above sea level to protect thousands of people living south of the lake and to provide water for millions of residents and a massive agriculture industry. The Corps is not releasing water to Fort Myers because much of the area is still flooded from Hurricane Irma, which made landfall in Collier County Sunday.
At SanibelSusan Realty
Our Friday closing (from last week) didn’t occur yet (my buyer), but hopefully it will soon and the two offers we have in the works (one on a listing, one my buyer) I am hoping to fan back into life soon.
In the meantime, please know that The SanibelSusan Team is breathing a big sigh of relief and very happy to be in a community where neighbors help neighbors and strangers too.
We hope all readers weathered the storm(s) OK too and that you enjoy your weekend.
P.S. Betcha we have a flurry of business once we get things back to order. It happened after Hurricane Charley and I see no reason why it won’t happen again. Paradise is coming back to normal and will be better than ever before long.
P.P.S. & reports are that the shelling is phenomenal.
Susan Andrews, aka SanibelSusan