Sanibel Lighthouse relit 5 months after Hurricane Ian: ‘It has to be there’

Reporter: Claire Galt Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

Sanibel relit the Sanibel Lighthouse Tuesday morning, marking the end of a long road to recovery after Hurricane Ian rampaged across Southwest Florida and tore off one of the structure’s legs.

People WINK News spoke to beforehand said they’re excited, relieved, and happy it’s coming back. The Sanibel Lighthouse is an island landmark, and it was an impressive enough feat for it to have withstood the storm in the first place.

Nearly every island has a lighthouse that’s built to withstand dangerous storms, monstrous waves, and extreme temperatures.

The Sanibel Lighthouse with the temporary leg. CREDIT: WINK News

The guiding light beaming out of the lighthouses is a symbol of stability. It shows hope and security, letting crews know a safe place is nearby.

“It just… it has to be there,” Sanibel resident Janie Howland said.

Though the lighthouse was damaged it withstood the unrelenting winds of Hurricane Ian.

“Every night when we drove across the bridge, we would see the lighthouse is still glowing,” Sanibel resident Gloria Waterhouse said.

But for five months, the light wasn’t shining.

“I look for the light to shine during the night. And I’ve noticed it’s not been lighting lately,” Howland said.

Early Tuesday morning, the light came back once again.

“We’re looking forward to the light,” Waterhouse said.

“Extreme excitement; it seems like a huge rebuilding effort,” Howard said. “And it’s really exciting, too. It’s a mecca for people, and people are going to see that as a huge rebuilding effort.”

“It’s time to get it done. And we’re moving on with our lives, and the island’s got a long ways to go, but we’ll get there. Very positive about that,” Waterhouse said.

Howland told WINK the lighthouse became a part of who she is.

“I grew old with it,” Howland said.

The lighthouse serves as a reminder of what home means.

“Think of driving across the causeway all these years. Every time, I always look at the lighthouse. I look to just see it during the day,” Howland said.

The lighthouse was hit hard by Ian but stands strong. (CREDIT: WINK News)

“Well, in a previous life, I was married there. It’s decorated at Christmas time. It’s just part of the island. And it’s been here forever,” Howland said.

And the spirit of her little island still stands strong and now shines as brightly as ever.

“It was injured, but it was still here. So are we,” Howland said.

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