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Most people on Sanibel Island waiting out the storm; others leaving town

Posted at 12:48 AM, Jul 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-05 00:48:43-04

SANIBEL, Fla. — Southwest Florida natives and visitors spent their 4th of July getting their feet wet on Sanibel Island. Hunter Blackburn and his wife Heather celebrated more than the holiday. It’s their 20th wedding anniversary.

“We love coming here,” said Mrs. Blackburn.

They started coming to Castaways Beach and Bay Cottages for their 10th anniversary and made it an annual trip. They usually extend their stay, but now they’re headed out on schedule.

“We’re actually leaving just to get out of the way of the storm,” said Mr. Blackburn.

He’s talking about Tropical Storm Elsa that’s scheduled to pass through Florida’s west coast early Tuesday morning. The area was hit pretty badly last November when Tropical Storm Eta passed through, and for those waiting out the storm in Sanibel, Castaways has supplied sandbags to keep storm water out of the cottages.

Blackburn says within the last several years she’s noticed a lot has changed.

“There’s a lot more sand, a lot more beach. It doesn’t end right at the doorstep. You can definitely see they’ve been working,” he said.

After years of storms, hurricanes and normal beach wear and tear, Sanibel Island reinstalled more sand to push the shore further away from these cottages as Blackburn noted. But, her husband says more should be done since the additional sand from the island’s renourishment project only lasts for so long.

“It just washes away. It’s hard to keep it here. And if you keep a decent amount of west wind for any amount of time, it’s just going to beat up against it, and drag it out,” he said.

Blackburn says he wants to see a more permanent solution to handle storm surge on Sanibel when big storms come. He also hopes Elsa doesn’t hit the area as badly as Tropical Storm Eta did in November.

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