Sanibel takes one more step towards normal, lifts curfew amidst recovery efforts

Reporter: Gail Levy Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:

Sanibel, like all the barrier islands in Southwest Florida, took a beating from Hurricane Ian, but that hasn’t kept them down.

A lot of progress has been made in the four months since the storm. Blind Pass and Tarpon Bay beaches are open, and so is a mobile post office.

We all know the beach is the real economic driver on the island. The state knows that, too, so it’s throwing money at the problem.

In the legislature’s special session in Tallahassee, lawmakers added an additional $100 million from the general fund for counties impacted by Hurricane Ian and Nicole.


$12 million of that is going toward Sanibel’s beach renourishment and recovery.

For beachfront owners, the city said there’s help for them too.

“The same legislation also created a restoration reimbursement grant program for private property owners, funded with $50 million for general revenue. If there are private property owners out there who are looking to do beach restoration work on their privately owned land, that program is available. It’s a 50/50 cost-share program, and the maximum grant award is $150,000,” said a Sanibel staff member in a meeting on Tuesday.

It’s one more step toward getting Sanibel back to normal.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, city staff talked about the success of opening up the Blind Pass and Tarpon Bay beaches, along with bringing back the beach parking fees for 99 spaces. That fee helps the city make up for a lot of lost cash.

Normally Sanibel brings in $4 million annually from beach parking alone.

There’s still a long way to go until Sanibel is its usual beautiful self again, but since the end of January, 1.6 million cubic yards of debris have been collected.

The last day to place your debris for collection is fast approaching.

“February 20th, as we, the city council, selected at the last meeting, that’s the last day to place hurricane-generated debris in the right of way. Then March 29 is the last day that Crowder Gulf can pick up right-of-way debris,” said City Manager Dana Souza.

If you still have more hurricane debris to be picked up, you can find out how to remove it by clicking here.

Money for beaches and debris removal was not the only good news that came out of Tuesday’s meeting. The city lifted the curfew that has been in place since the hurricane, and it was announced that the Sanibel School would welcome students back on Wednesday.

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