This week we saw signs of renewal. Lights shine from our restaurants, bars and hotels. Neighborhoods are lit up and lots of people were out in the street talking to others in their neighborhood. We even saw a few beach goers, here on vacation. All wonderful signs that we are well on our way back to ‘normal.’
Our businesses are open and ready to welcome Islanders and visitors! Let’s all do what we can to get that message out. No need to cancel vacations or day trips to the beach. Come on down! Fort Myers Beach is ready for you!
This week, as many regained power and businesses and institutions re-opened, Fort Myers Beach continued digging out from under what at times seemed like a mountain of downed trees. We suspect we’ll be looking at pieces of that mountain for a while along our roads, a visible reminder of how lucky we all were when Irma slipped a bit east and began to fall apart as she passed us.
We were ready for so much worse than the Cat 2 storm we got. Luckily we didn’t get it. For that we should all remain thankful. How many of us left our homes thinking that we might never see all our stuff again? How many made the tough decisions about what to take when you left thinking that that small pile may be all you had left after the storm?
While we were lucky in that we were able to return to our homes and things, there are many right here in Lee County and elsewhere in Florida that suffered flooding and hurricane damage that resulted in their worst-case scenario of total loss. Just as the suffering from Hurricane Harvey flooding continues in Texas, there will be suffering from Irma for a long time here in Florida.
How can we use our experience to move forward? That intent focus on what’s important, what to take, what to leave. After every crisis, it’s important to analyze what was done and decide how to improve the next time. Our public safety and emergency operations teams do this all the time. As individuals, neighborhoods and as a Town, we should also take the time to review what we learned this time around. Not this week, or next, but once life is back to some semblance of “normal” give yourself some time to think through what was learned, what went well, what didn’t and what you should do next time. The better prepared we as residents are, the less we will need to rely on others’ preparation.
And please, if you’re one of those folks who just discovered that the Town uses Town Re-Entry passes to allow residents and business owners to return to the Island first, after an evacuation, please get yourself to Town Hall this week and get one. Now, before another storm approaches.
This time, the Island infrastructure suffered minimal damage with the exception of the power grid. Had our streets washed out or the water or sewer system failed, re-entry would have been a much more difficult and delayed process and those re-entry passes would have been much more important. Get one now!
The stories of sacrifice, assistance and genuine caring for friends and strangers this past two weeks are overwhelming. There are so many of them, each of them full of recognized need, unsolicited response and heartfelt concern, that we will never be able to tell them all. We picked a few for this week’s paper, but they are just that, a few of many.
The Golden Rule of do unto others as you’d have them do unto you, was never more on display than it was on our Island these past two weeks.
While we can’t possibly tell all the great stories of neighborliness, we invite our readers to share their Hurricane Irma experience. Send us a letter of up to 300 words to tell us who was your Hurricane Hero. Who stepped up to help? Who offered their time, their strength, their caring just when you needed it? Who was there for you?
While we are thanking those in our community who went above and beyond for the community of Fort Myers Beach during and after Hurricane Irma, we have to add two people to our list, Karen Morreale and Joe Monroe of S2R Studios. S2R is the Sand Paper’s Webmaster and social media manager. During and after the storm, thousands of Islanders near and far followed our Facebook feed and our website to read the frequent updates and view photos of the Island. Karen & Joe were the ones that made sure our stories and photos were shared on social media and on FortMyersBeach.news in a timely manner keeping everyone up to date on what was happening on Fort Myers Beach. (We just spoke to a visitor Thursday morning who is going ahead with her vacation plans because she has followed our online reports and knows the beach is open for visitors.) Considering we were all operating with sketchy cell service, power and Internet technology during and after Irma, that feat is amazing. Thank you Karen and Joe!!!
Webmaster Note: We appreciate the kind words. We love the Island Sand Paper and Fort Myers Beach, and are thankful that everyone stayed safe.