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Sanibel mayor describes leaving the island, lauds residents for evacuation, urges safety

A letter from Sanibel Mayor Holly D. Smith posted on the community's web site Tuesday described her leaving the island as Hurricane Ian approached and thanked residents for evacuating.

Dear Fellow Sanibelians,

I left our island about an hour ago. I can tell you it was very surreal to drive a deserted Periwinkle Way and cross the causeway. I want to sincerely thank everyone for listening and preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Ian. It is clear our community did what we do best: we prepared, we helped each other get ready, and when the conditions warranted a voluntary, then mandatory evacuation, you responded.

Mayor Holly D. Smith

I know it is difficult to leave your home and our island, even in the face of hurricane. But evacuating before Hurricane Ian arrives is critically important. The storm is currently expected to be a Category 4 storm as it approaches Sanibel, bringing with it 120-mile hour winds, 6-10” of rainfall, and the potential for 8 to 12 feet of storm surge, regardless of the exact location of landfall.

Earlier today, Lee County ordered mandatory evacuations orders for all of Zone A, all of Zone B, and parts of Zone C. Sanibel and Captiva are included in Zone A. You can find a list of Lee County shelters here. Residents also are encouraged to shelter with family and friends.

There is still a window of opportunity to vacate the island. If you have not yet made that choice, I ask you to consider it. Many of us remember Hurricane Charley and Hurricane Irma. This storm is different and I can honestly say I am concerned for everyone’s safety. Shelters are available. Please consider this option. Driving on roadways in substantially deteriorating weather conditions is hazardous.

Sanibel is an amazing and resilient community that will no doubt come together to emerge from this challenge better than ever. We strongly encourage you to please finish your preparations and evacuate the island.

Please continue to monitor the weather and the City’s news releases. If you have not registered to receive the City’s news releases, please click here to register. Be safe during this storm event.


Holly D. Smith, Mayor

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