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Sanibel community group discusses how to build back a more resilient island

Sanibel meeting
Posted at 9:15 PM, Mar 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-10 05:15:43-05

SANIBEL ISLAND, Fla. — The roadmap to the recovery process from Hurricane Ian can go in many different directions. On Thursday night, a group of citizens hosted a meeting on Sanibel Island to discuss what the future holds for the coastal community.

There's no one size fits all solution to building back a resilient community, but there are several ways community members say it can be done.

"There is always going to be risk and there are just some lessons you have to learn," said Portor Goss, former CIA director and Sanibel resident. "We're now asking our citizens, our leadership, to contemplate how we're going to go forward with the problems that we've got."

Goss spoke at the SanCap Citizens meeting along with other community members. They shared their stories of survival after Ian.

"Armageddon, total destruction," said Jerry Minch, owner of Periwinkle Park.

On Thursday night, the question of "Where do we go from here?" came up several times. It's one of many asked by the community, hopefully to eventually be answered by the group and local leaders.

"Trying to bring resources to community around how you think about building better, how do we think about things, about how we manage our emergency management, our transportation here," said Carrie Schuman, coastal resilience manager for the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation. "There are just a lot of things to be forward thinking about."

That forward thinking is coming quickly for business owners like Tracy Sharp.

"We have landlords, and we're not sure which direction to go to get that done," she said.

Minch is currently going through rebuilding issues and says homes at Periwinkle Park need to be elevated up to 13 feet.

"It's going to be difficult, but we're going to get there," he said.

This is one of two meetings the SanCap Citizens group will host. The next one is expected to happen in mid-April, where local experts will focus on how the island prepared for the hurricane, rebuilding efforts and lessons for the future.