Sanibel mayor updates island situation, urges submitting info on missing residents
An update on Sanibel Island from Mayor Holly D. Smith said search and rescue efforts were of paramount importance after Hurricane Ian decimated the island Wednesday.
"Boats are in the water and now heading to or are on island for search and rescue. All individuals on the island need to be taken off," she said. "Chief (Willliam) Dalton has requested assistance with search and rescue through the EOC system and he will continue to coordinate with the partnering agency."
In her remarks the mayor urged anyone with information on missing relatives or friends who may have remained on the island to provide that to authorities.
The mayor's update:
"Sanibelians, and to all those who love our Island,
"I hope you are safe. We are all away from our island home which we love and cherish. I know how difficult that is especially after witnessing the catastrophic path of Hurricane Ian. My prayers go to all who were and are still in harm’s way.
"I am struggling to find the words to convey my feelings, as I am sure most of us are as we look to the past four days. All our lives and our island have been forever changed. What we do tomorrow and the days and months ahead will redefine and strengthen our community.
"The coming days ahead will be difficult. Our first priority is to get those who are stranded to safety. PLEASE CONTINUE TO PROVIDE NAMES AND ADDRESSES OF LOVED ONES WHO MAY HAVE REMAINED ON THE ISLAND.
"Our ability to issue press releases has been limited most of this morning as our focus has been on initiating search and rescue, but we will be communicating regularly from now on.
"Coordination efforts are taking place as we speak. City Manager Souza and I just finished a phone call with Governor DeSantis. We have short- and long- term challenges and the Governor assured us our needs will be met. We have requested barge service for the short-term, to get assets on the island for the recovery, possibly for the long-term for island access due to the condition of the causeway.
"A flyover of Sanibel, Fort Myers Beach, and Pine Island was conducted earlier this morning which will provide more information for our recovery process. Commissioner Ruane indicated that drones will be deployed to aid in that effort.
"AGAIN, Primary ONE objective is to get all individuals off the island to safety and account for people who remained on island.
"I know how much we want to get back on our island and to our homes and businesses. Please be prepared that we do not know what that will look like. Images we are receiving and those you are likely seeing show the gravity of conditions. I ask for your patience and I know how difficult that may be.
"The job ahead of all of us is very tough. We are heart sick and devastated, but our community will prove to be so much stronger than Ian.
"Our island and our community needs us more than ever.
Sincerely, Holly D. Smith, Mayor"
The mayor said there is can be no timeframe for reentry and if residents have somewhere safe to stay they should remain there.
She said search and rescue will be a methodical and long process. After the rescue efforts, police go island-wide for safety and clearance, then the structural safety inspections teams conduct an island-wide inspection of every property on island for structural integrity or damages. Once these actions are completed, the city will transition to re-entry if possible.
City Hall Lines are open from 7 AM to 10 PM at (239) 472-3700. This line is used for NON- EMERGENCY CALLS.
If you have an emergency, please call 9-1-1.
WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.