Sanibel woman back home 9 months after Ian

Reporter: Claire Galt Writer: Matias Abril
Published: Updated:

It’s not every day, but every week, that there’s a sign that Sanibel is bouncing back after Hurricane Ian.

This week’s sign of progress? A welcome home.

Alison Ward is someone who likes everything they way she likes everything, so no other apartment would do.

For the last nine months, she clung to her memories.

And today, she has a home. Her home.

Every wall is bare. There’s an echo in the living room. No couch. No tv. Just a few colorful shells.
Nevertheless, Ward is as happy as can be.

“If there’s a happiness scale of one to ten, I’m about like, 55,” Ward said.

No, Ward is not a minimalist, but at 75 years old, she is starting over, like so many others on Sanibel.

“It’s just a really wonderful time of my life. Really good time. Just getting started,” Ward said.

Nine months ago, Ward had to leave her home and leave the island, after Hurricane Ian made it impossible to stay.

“Life changed in a blink of an eye,” Ward said.

Ward had to accept that life as she knew it was over.

“I was up every morning at five o’clock, to get to Tarpon Beach before six,” Ward said.

After couch surfing for five months, Ward moved into a United Way trailer.

“The analogy I can give you is if you’re on an airplane, and you go to use the restroom, you know, how you just kind of barely move? That’s the trailer,” Ward said.

No more gardening. No more cooking. And the worst part? No more shelling.

“My son says that keeps me off the streets. So out of the bars. He’s not a sheller,” Ward said.

If you couldn’t tell by now, Ward loves shells.

“I clean them, I spray them with Triple X glaze, and then I put them in like a shoe box, plastic shoe box kind of thing,” Ward said. “The shell goddesses would be happy with me because I saved a lot of them.”

Perhaps the shell goddesses were looking out for Ward. On Friday, someone from Community Housing & Resources called to tell her that it’s time to go back home.

“I didn’t allow myself allow myself to to believe it would happen, but it did,” Ward said.

Now, Ward feels complete. She has the three things she loves most in the world: shells, her son and Sanibel.

“People who know me know that my son is my heart and Sanibel is my soul,” Ward said.

And she already knows she’s going to decorate her home with pictures, wallpaper, and patterns of shells. She can’t wait to get started.

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