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Islanders invited to attend hurricane readiness event

By Staff | May 6, 2011

Captiva was the first barrier island designated as StormReady. Through proper education, Captiva residents can be prepared for a damaging storm. There will be another opportunity for Captiva homeowners to learn how to be prepared in case of a hurricane and when to safely evacuate.

A hurricane education program will be held on Tuesday, May 10 in the Auger Room at South Seas Resort on Captiva. The event begins at 2:20 p.m.

Guest speakers include Gerald Campbell, chief planner for emergency management in Lee County. He will cover evacuation routes and preparedness for homeowners.

Amy Hoit, the director of GIS Mapping, will be speaking about the damage assessment program and how will benefit homeowners following a hurricane.

“Volunteers called structural safety inspectors help with full-damage assessment and gather reports, which are passed on to Amy,” said Rich Dickerson.

The SSI volunteers will go back to the island after a storm and assess the extent of damage. Before a storm, they may be asked to help with evacuation. They will not go inside buildings and Lt. Joe Poppalardo along with Chief Jay Halverson will direct them.

Dickerson, who will be accompanied by Poppalardo with the Lee County Sheriff’s Department, will talk about the importance of evacuating early. When Lee County is moved to a level two emergency status, residents should begin to execute an emergency plan. If an evacuation is ordered, the fire department will fly a red hurricane flag to indicate mandatory evacuation.

Following the storm, residents must have a hurricane pass to cross Sanibel and enter Captiva when an evacuation has occurred. Last month, the Captiva Hurricane Preparation and Response Committee discussed plans for a massive community mailing containing information about hurricane preparation, including the importance of homeowner’s letters, which will act as a pass to return to the island.

Property owners were asked to fill out a homeowner’s letter before hurricane season begins June 1 and the completed form should then be faxed to the Captiva Island Fire Control District.

Committee member Doris Holzheimer mentioned many Captiva property owners seem to think they don’t need to send in their homeowner’s letters.

“They all think it’s going to be someone they know letting people back on the island after an evacuation. There is no way to know that,” said Holzheimer.

To combat complacency, Pappalardo and Halverson of the CIFCD authored the special letter to accomany the large-scale mailing, which will also include storm preparation tips, to all Captiva property owners.

“People have become complacent and they all say it’s not a big deal, but it is,” said Poppalardo.

For more information on being prepared for the upcoming hurricane season or to obtain a copy of the homeowner’s letter, visit www.MyCaptiva.info. All Captiva residents are encouraged to attend the education program next week at South Seas Island Resort.