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FISH agency prepares for Hurricane Season

By Staff | Jun 4, 2009

Chuck and his wife, Sally, have lived in their cottage on the Bay for more than 30 years. In June 2004, Chuck and Sally received their annual F.I.S.H. Hurricane Preparedness Information Packet. Sally told the volunteer, “Chuck won’t leave. We have our eight- year-old yellow Lab, which we won’t leave behind. And besides, we haven’t had a bad storm in many years.” Six weeks later, Hurricane Charlie was making its approach towards Sanibel and Captiva. As the storm neared, a F.I.S.H. volunteer telephoned Sally and Chuck advising them to make plans to bring in supplies and to think again about evacuation. Chuck insisted he, Sally and their Lab would be fine. They did not evacuate and Hurricane Charlie arrived with all its fury. Water from San Carlos Bay surrounded their home and downed trees blocked their driveway. Although they had water and some canned goods, they did not have batteries, and Sally was low on her diabetes medicine. Help arrived from a Sanibel police officer. F.I.S.H. of Sanibel’s Hurricane Committee had previously notified the Sanibel Emergency Management Office of the Police Department about its clients who would not evacuate and would possibly need assistance following a storm. Sally often recalls how terrifying it was to stay in their home, isolated and wondering if and when help would come.

F.I.S.H of Sanibel works with the City of Sanibel on Hurricane Preparedness. The Hurricane Committee meets with city officials several times, beginning in May of each year. Each year F.I.S.H. prepares a packet containing a cover letter, Residential Hurricane Pass Application, list of current Hurricane Shelters, and information and an application for individuals who have special needs. Also included is an updated list of hotels and motels in the Fort Myers area with addresses, phone numbers and information as to which are pet-friendly, have a restaurant on site, Internet access, and disabled access. F.I.S.H. volunteers deliver this packet to clients at their homes and will work with them on filling out forms and filing them with city and county agencies.

Although F.I.S.H. cannot offer transportation during evacuations, volunteers will work with individuals to find transportation off island prior to a storm. Once the City orders an evacuation, F.I.S.H. notifies the City of any clients remaining on island so they may be checked on once the storm passes. If you or a “neighbor” would like to receive the F.I.S.H. Hurricane Preparedness Information Packet, call F.I.S.H. at 472-4775 to set up a time when a volunteer may visit.

F.I.S.H of Sanibel, Inc. (Friends in Service Here) is a non-profit, all volunteer run organization assisting Sanibel and Captiva islanders and visitors with a wide range of services. For more than 25 years, F.I.S.H. has been a “neighbor helping neighbor” by offering non-emergency transport on and off the Island, a daily hot meals program, temporary loan of health equipment, in-home visitation, person-to-person telephone calls, hurricane preparedness information and health care referral. A monthly Alzheimer Support Group and monthly Friendly Faces Luncheon are also sponsored by F.I.S.H. The Walk-In-Center is staffed with volunteers, who meet with individuals and families, and share information on the services F.I.S.H. provides as well as services provided by others. The Walk-In Center also houses a food pantry, stocked with non-perishable food items, frozen and refrigerated foods, paper products, diapers and personal care items.

The F.I.S.H. Walk-in-Center is located in the Village Shops at 2340 Periwinkle Way, Unit I-1. It is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Anyone needing assistance after hours should call 472-0404.